Columbia, South Carolina MLS “Rules”: A Few Thoughts…

All Real Estate May Not Be Local, According To Feds…

It looks like the federal lawsuit concerning Columbia’s MLS system, received some attention today. I can sympathize with some of the thoughts of the filers of the suit. Having said this, I can also understand why some of the rules are in place. Here are a few thoughts regarding some of the bullet points in the newspaper.

1) Membership Fees: $5,000 (Now $2,500). This really doesn’t hit the day to day licensee. As I mentioned in a previous post, our dues (as licensees) are much lower than this, and we pay them quarterly.

I must say though, that MLS has an in town office that’s staffed with 3 full time employees. We enjoy state of the art technology which includes, but not limited to, full service web function, lockboxes (infared), lockbox keys (infrared), MLS key safety fobs (access to MLS is prohibited for safety purposes w/out an ever changing code).

If the MLS is charging too much, then I suppose the fees should be lowered. It seems as though the federal gov’t shouldn’t set prices, though.

I hope the safety of my sellers is not compromised, or the speed of my services suffer, because some folks think a fee is high.

2) Allowing Home Offices: I really don’t see what the big problem with this is, although I can see why it was put in place. Can a lawyer practice law at home? I don’t know. I’m know he/she can “work” at home, but I’m not sure a law firm can domicile on the kitchen table. Can a doctor? Some folks may say, “well that’s different.” Maybe, maybe not.

Any real estate practitioner can work at home. The problem is that the liability “brunt” does not lie with that salesperson. The “buck stops” with our Broker In Charge. We are simply sub agents of our broker. I would think that it’s not too much to ask for a professional business that deals with peoples escrow monies, access to every home on a market and 5 years worth of documents of tens of thousands of our neighbors information, not be asked to have a store front. It’s going to be a hum-dinger when some broker/owner has to explain to a judge, that the dog ate his files.

As I said, I can see it both ways. I don’t see how a broker domiciling at home, can have their clients best interest in mind, when they are responsible for 10-1000 licensees. Maybe they can make this rule “size sensitive.” Maybe if they have five or less licensees, they can domicile at home. Who knows…

To the lady who said, “It’s basically a huge monopoly.” Think of it like this. A non-lawyer can’t own any part of a law firm. However, this is not state law. But, in order to practice law/own a firm in South Carolina, the lawyer must be a member of The Bar Association. Well, to be a member of The must be a lawyer. Get it???

Further, in South Carolina any and all real estate transactions (including refi’s,) must be closed by a lawyer (no Title Companies allowed – see above). Want to talk about monopolies? Now, guess which state has one of the least “title problems” in the U.S. You got it…. South Carolina. The MLS is not a “monopoly.” It is a system…

The old rule of our profession was “Let the Buyer Beware.” Today it’s, “To Protect the Public.” Tomorrow the theme may be, “Let the Buyer And Seller Beware…?”


HotSheet; Columbia’s Newest Listings…

>>New Listings; May 4 – 13, 2008

Spurrier; QB’s Should Emulate Tanneyhill…

“Hopefully, Tommy Beecher or Chris Smelley can improve and really jump out there and play like Steve Taneyhill,” Spurrier said. “Taneyhill came out there with his hair flapping and with an air of confidence that I’m going up and down the field and you boys can’t stop me. I wish we had one like that. We don’t have one like that. We haven’t had one since I’ve been here.

This is what Coach Spurrier told a group at USC Aiken last Tuesday. Finally, someone said it, that’s at the top of the heap.

Now, we all know that Taneyhill wasn’t the greatest athlete of all time. Actually, it was a surprise when we saw a perfect spiral come off of his fingers. However, this guy had spunk. He had swagger.

We need a guy that has some mojo between the ear holes. No matter who the opponent was, Taneyhill said to himself, “To hell with this crap, we’re gonna get first downs. We’re gonna bust you up, and we’re gonna win.”

This is one of the reasons that the Garcia debacle was so hurtful. This guy was creating a buzz of confidence. It’s too bad he decided to show off in 5 Points, rather than Williams-Brice.

Smelley or Beecher need to step up. Actually, they need to get out of the huddle saying to the defense, “STEP OFF.” One of them needs to say to themselves that, “I’m a quarterback, and I’m going to sling it and wing it down the field.”

Actually, I thought it would be Smelley. I thought that he would make it such that he would want to “show up” his Alabama recruiting rival, Tim Tebow.

Smelley/Beecher, get it on. Expect to go down the field. Expect to score, and expect to win.

These guys need to walk around Williams-Brice, like they used to cruise their high school hallways. Taneyhill did…

Trust Busting in Columbia, S.C.?

Should The Term “denies membership,” be Replaced with the Phrase, “costs too much for membership..”?

Many of you read this (see below) in The State today. It will be interesting to see who is behind the lawsuit. On the surface, it seems like someone is miffed about the dues that the Multiple Listing Service charges.

As a Realtor, I don’t have anything to do with this. All I do is pay my quarterly dues to the MLS, so that I can have access to the information it provides. This lawsuit is not from a “licensed salesperson.” The lawsuit stems from a “Broker In Charge,” who must pay a FAR bigger amount, than everyday licensed professionals.

Apparently, he doesn’t want to pay his fair share of what it takes to keep this service running. Since he/she is probably a “discount broker,” he/she may not be making enough to fulfill his/her promises to the clients his company serves. The company has probably bet “the house,” that it can provide the same services that the full service companies are providing.

Real estate companies, Realtors and other licensees pay their fair share to be members of MLS, respectfully. I know I pay mine…

U.S. Sues Columbia Real Estate Brokers Over Listings

By Kristy Eppley Rupon –
The U.S. Attorney General has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against a group of Columbia-area real estate brokers to prevent them from restricting competition.
If successful, the suit could lower the commissions home sellers pay real estate agents and would provide more access for discount brokers.

The suit says the Columbia-area’s Consolidated Multiple Listing Service membership rules are set up in a way that denies membership to “brokers who might be expected to compete more aggressively or in more innovative ways than CMLS’s members would prefer.”

The CMLS maintains a database of homes for sale in the area and records of sales that help real estate agents set prices for homes. Information is available only to members.

The group is made up of 370 brokers who represent more than 3,100 real estate agents in seven Midlands counties: Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Saluda, Fairfield, Calhoun and Newberry.

April 24 – May 4, 2008

>>Click Here for Columbia’s Newest Listings

South Carolina Beach Time…

This time, it’s Surfside/Garden City…

One of the best reasons to live in South Carolina, and Columbia for that matter, is because we are so close to awesome beaches. A beach trip for most of America, is a big deal. For South Carolinians, we can just fill up a laundry basket and be in the ocean, in the same time it takes to do a home inspection.

This time, Jenna and I (and Hairston’s) are going to spend the weekend in the Surfside/Garden City area. My late wife’s (Kinsey Black Jones) parents have a condo right on the beach, so we are going to hang out, play spades and fish off of the pier.

I haven’t been to a beach north of Litchfield in about 7 years (since Kinsey was alive). I think it’s going to be pretty cool to be about 2 blocks from the pier. I’ll be emailing/texting in the middle of the night with live squid on the line, hoping to catch anything that will tickle my line.

Even though we will be a little north, I’ll bet $5 that we will find ourselves at our favorite spots. Somehow, we always find ourselves at Frank’s or Louis’s. Someone may convince us to hit Gulfstream. It is always good for a great time, with great views.

I have about 12 Pending Contracts on the board. I think we have everyone covered, and ready (or almost ready) to close. I will have my Centro (laptop will be hooked up, of course) on me, at all times. If you need local help, email Amy at

I will be back after a visit in Manning on Sunday…

South Carolina Ranks 38th in Forclosures: Not Awful…

It’s not often often that we can brag about being ranked at the bottom but this time we have an exception. SC ranks near the bottom of foreclosures in the country (38th), but the increase of foreclosures is increasing (87% increase 1st quarter 2007 v. 1st quarter 2008). That’s not as bad as it sounds because we’re still below the national average of 111%. I believe South Carolina’s below average foreclosure rate is due in large part to the predatory lending laws that our General Assembly passed a few years ago.

Most states are in worse shape. One in every 54 Nevada households received a foreclosure filing during the first quarter, the highest foreclosure rate among the states and 3.6 times the national average. Foreclosure filings were reported on 19,595 Nevada properties during the quarter, up 3 percent from the previous quarter and up 137 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Source: RealtyTrac Inc.

S.C. is for Teachers; State Makes Money Available to Teachers For Housing

South Carolina Lures Teachers to the State with Generous Housing Assistance.

The State Housing Authority is making $20 million available for home loans to new teachers. The loans carry a 5.9 percent interest rate. The state expects to offer about 175 loans this year.

The program also includes down payment assistance of up to $7,000 for teachers making less than 80 percent of the county’s median income, assistance that will be forgiven if they stay in the home for five years.

Teachers can get the loans, which have a maximum between $180,000 and $240,000, from more than 200 lenders around the state.

What a great tool! If you are a new teacher, or know a new (or soon to be) new teacher in South Carolina, we need to set you up for this new loan program. If interested, call or email me. I’ll help find you a participating lender…

Columbia, SC Ranks 9th! Nice….

Columbia Ranks Ninth in the Nation for Job Growth
Apr 15, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – April 15, 2008 – Job growth in the United States has slipped significantly from 1.0% annual growth six months ago, to a 0.4% year-over-year growth according to March 2008 data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even in a time of economic slowdown, many cities are still posting significant job growth.

The top three cities for job growth for the year ending February 2008 were Raleigh, NC (3.9%), Houston, TX (3.4%) and Greenville, SC (2.9%), while Charleston, SC (2.1%) ranked sixth and Columbia, SC (1.9%) ranked ninth in the nation for job growth.

April 14 – 23, 2008

>>Columbia’s Newest Real Estate Listings