There is a strange and incongruent set of policies, rules, and customs in real estate that apply to the display of broker attribution on listings. State laws regulate broker attribution on signs and in advertising. We tuck broker attribution into the bottom of the page on IDX displays – but when you enter the world of the MLS or Virtual Office websites, that attribution is removed.

In most markets today, client servicing tools used by agents to work with homebuyers are afforded the opportunity through rules and policies to deprecate (remove) the broker attribution entirely. These policies were not ill conceived; they were founded in the spirit of supporting buyer’s agents. There is no ill will or bad intent.


If you look at the narrative of litigation in State and Federal courts and follow the prying investigations into real estate by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, the concerns are vivid and clear. Do not withhold information from consumers.

It’s time for the real estate industry to listen to brokers who have been begging for proper attribution on every pathway. It’s time for a trade. It’s time for the industry to put aside policies and practices that deprecate broker attribution everywhere.

The internet search has the answers anyway

At the heart of this plea is a simple recognition that the consumer can search an address and see the information anyway. The practice of hiding broker attribution is merely a stifling inconvenience. Buyer’s agents can lock in their clients with a buyer representation agreement. There is no longer any merit to hiding information from the consumer.

Measure the balance

If you measure the balance of losses and gains, you have the lead generation aspirations of buyer’s agents pitted against the transparency reforms of the court system and the Justice Department who want consumers to have transparency. In my mind, it’s a pretty simple decision and rather easily implemented.

Where to start

I have long bemoaned the issue of brokers having no access to supervise agent-client conversations behind the walled garden of the MLS system. We know that more than 200 million emails are sent to consumers each month from these systems. Unless an MLS has directed their vendor to display the broker attribution, it is suppressed. Let’s start right there. And while you are at it, give brokers access to supervise their agent accounts in the MLS and… since I am asking to break everything… provide brokers with an API of their client data, saved searches, and saved listings that are currently locked in the MLS client portals.