Part 2: Illegal MLS Fudging. 20% Chance You'll See 1.

This blog is an extension on the blog “MLS Data Fudged By Realtors. Watch out!” This new post might not make sense without reading it first.

One blog reader asked me, “How frequently does MLS fudging really occurred. Are we talking once in a blue moon, is it commonplace or even the default?”

Great question!

They wanted a breakdown of the frequency of both the Fat-Free MLS Fudge (technically allowed which is the same agent relisting a property to reset some data like the DOMM not DOMP and Starting Price), and the Full-o-Fat MLS Fudging that is a MRIS violation, which resets the DOMM and DOMP and makes the listing look brand new, with no trace of the old listing.

Quick DOMM vs DOMP recap.

  • DOMM= Days on the Market- MLS (days for that MLS listing only)
  • DOMP= Days on the Market for the property (regardless of relistings, unless fudged)

Quick Full-o-Fudge MLS recap.

An agent can pull their listing and when given a 1 click option to restart it, bypass the default and put “00000” in the tax id box. This is an MRIS violation but done so that buyers and many agents won’t see how long it has been on the market, in hopes of getting a higher price.

My estimations:
I can’t get exact figures. There are probably over 10,000 active listings right now in this area. The system only allows us to pull up 500 at a time. While I was able to search for Tax ID 00* (* meaning anything after two zeros), and 999*, XX* and 123* I then had to manually look up EACH result to make sure it wasn’t a new construction or condo conversion (which don’t have Tax ID’s yet and putting in “000” is and acceptable and legit practice). Some of you might think I have too much time on my hand (maybe since I sometimes talk people OUT of buying), but I don’t have THAT much time.

So I pulled up one county and price range and did a sample analysis. 2400 active homes analyzed.

My search criteria:
Homes and condos in Fairfax County priced from $300,000 to $600,000 built before 2004.
The result was 2400. (Since the max search is 500 I had to do smaller $50k range searches and add them.)

Then I searched for tax ID of 00*,XX*, 999* and came up with about 40 results. Again, sometimes not having the Tax ID (which attaches a property to prior MLS listings) can be legit in cases of new construction, condo conversion and a couple other reasons.

So I took those 40 and opened another browser. I searched for that street address and included all Withdrawns, Temp off, and Expired to see if that property was previously listed and whether the Tax ID of 000 was used to reset the data.

I found 21 Full-o-Fat MLS Fudgings and 17 of those were from the same agent (vs a new agent taking on a listing and wanting to reset everything, which is also not allowed but not AS bad in my opinion).

So out of the sample of 2400 homes, I found 21. Which is just under 1%. This doesn’t seem like a lot and I do remember seeing it fairly frequently, so I started looking at that 1% another way.

Lets say an average buyer might go into about 7-10 homes, they probably have the agent look into about 20 homes online. That means there is a 20% (20, 1% chances) chance that you will come across a listing that has been fudged by the Realtor to deceive the public in order to get their listing sold faster.

Fat-Free MLS Fudge frequency?

So then I wanted to see how frequently a listing undergoes Fat-Free MLS Fudging, the act of relisting the property but not removing the Tax ID. This practice is allowed. Heck, one agent did it 17 times.

I couldn’t look at all 2400 homes, so I focused on 90. , the results from a price range search of $499,900 to $500,000 in Fairfax built before 2004.

25 of the 90 were relisted and had a different DOMM vs DOMP (defined above). This 25 is legit, and tells you that there is a ton of turnover of listings to a different agent. Sucks to be those that lose the listing agents losing those deals.

    Of the 25 active listings with a DOMM and DOMP discrepancy

  • 15 were new listings from one agent taking over for another agent. This is 100% legit.
  • 10 were the same agent (Fat-Free Fudge, allowed but questionable)
  • 3 (of the 10) were relisted and withdrawn 3 times for a total of 4 MLS #s each
  • 1 (of the 10) was Full-o-Fat Fudged

About 12% of listings get relisted by the same agent
About 3% of the time they relist it multiple times, sometimes 4 times.
About 1% of the listings (in the example of 90 and 2400) are fudged.

So if you look at 20 properties, there is a almost certain chance that a few were using the Fat-Free Fudge technique and probably a 20% chance that you will encounter the illegal fudging technique.

Why does this matter?
When bidding on a property, you should have ALL the available information. If a place appears to have just hit the market 5 days ago, there might be a little rush to winsecure it. If you bought it to then find out that it was really on the market for 300 days, you wouldn’t be happy that you were duped. Also the amount you offer might be lower if it sat for the same price for 200 days.


  • MRIS (our local MLS system), do a better job at catching these manipulations. A simple review of all 00* would be a start. Secondly impose fines and get serious about cracking down on this. (Email me if you want an address to complain to MRIS)
  • Buyer Agent Realtors, report these violations to compliance, they can reset the listings.
  • Listing Agent Realtors, stop fudging the MLS or risk losing your l
  • Buyers, don’t be scared, just be aware and make sure your agent double checks into this before putting in an offer. Also ask your agent if their emailed reports use the DOMM or the DOMP (most use the DOMM).

Disclaimer: The data that I collected might not be statistically perfect, but it was the best that I could do. I would be happy to work with a research person to get more exact figures. Also the Fat-Free Fudge, which is allowed, is my opinion not kosher, many agents might debate this or say it is company policy. To each his own. I just wanted to bring up the debate.

Now talk amongst yourselves…

– Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker/Owner

  • 4
  • January
  • 2007

25 Responses to “Part 2: Illegal MLS Fudging. 20% Chance You'll See 1.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    thanks, Frank. you are new to the biz (rookie in 03), are you concerned w/ burning bridges?

  2. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    The MRIS is a corporation that runs the local DC area MLS. They claim that they have software that searches for and filters this fudging out. Does that mean that almost 1% incidents that I found would have been 5%? Who knows.

  3. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your question. I’m not sure if you are a Realtor or not, but I think the 99% of Realtors that DO NOT illegally fudge the MLS data would agree that they don’t like those bad apples.

    I will be starting a Realtor focused Blog shortly. For Realtors to be able to vent along side me about other Realtors (not by name of course).

    If you are a Realtor, and agree, email me, or join us!

  4. tchaka owen says:

    Frank, people make mistakes – and I can understand a newbie agent erring. But to do it 17 times in NOT an error. I believe that this particular realtor should be outed. Even if not to the public, to NVAR.

    I’m very happy to hear it’s less than 1% though. Shows that the vast majority of realtors are good people.

  5. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Thanks for your comment. But that agent that did it 17 times, he did the Fat-Free Fudge technique which IS allowed

  6. Debbie Cook- Realtor MD says:

    I also use MRIS. I wonder how many agents FUDGE the seller concessions made and the SALES PRICE. It would be very easy to do and is not monitored by anyone. It’s up to the listing agents and honor system. How could it be monitored?

  7. Renee Burrows- Realtor Las Vegas says:

    Ours has the history button also. I do think “fudging” goes on in other areas as well such as when a property closes. We get to determine what appraisers will use as comparables such as: property condition, sales price and concessions. When I was doing a CMA for a buyer last night – so we could determine what to offer on the property – I became very skeptical of the “honors system.”

    I was very bothered that an entry level community had ONLY ONE comparable in the last six months that included closing costs. I found that very disturbing in THIS market that only one out of something like 18 or 20 closed properties, entry level housing, 10 months inventory, had their closing costs paid by sellers. And that one – was only 2%

  8. Tim Maitski- Realtor Remax says:

    I don’t see anything morally wrong with this. I always thought that it was just what a smart listing agent did to put the listing in the best light. Yes, it sometimes takes a bit of knowledge and work. That’s why people need a savvy agent who knows the system and know how to use it to his client’s advantage.

    Either the buyer likes it or not. How do you know if it was actually marketed well or if anyone even showed it? It’s not your right to know how motivated a seller might be. Being on the market for so many months does not make the house defective in any way.

    In Atlanta you can withdraw a listing and get a new listing number if you pay the MLS a $25 fee.

    I really think this is a big non-issue. I think it’s a pile of real fudge.

  9. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Tim,
    Thanks for the posting. WOW! I guess you help prove my point that buyer better be aware of tactics like this from Realtors. No doubt that you might win business by employing these tactics, but they are a violation of the MLS rules.

    I bet your broker wouldn’t agree with your tactics and how that makes RE/MAX Greater Atlanta’s brand look.

    Tim, why do we even track the Days On the Market anyhow?

  10. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    An email was sent to Tim’s Managing Broker at Remax. I’ll let you know how he responds and if Remax condones these tactics.

  11. Bernie Krebs says:

    All MLS’s should have to play by the same rules and have the same reporting requirements. Ours has a history for each property that was listed in the MLS.

  12. Steve Dalton- Synergy Homes Indiana says:

    Every time a procedure is set up, someone will find a way to get around it. It’s a fact of life.

    On this one, in an increasing price market, it probably didn’t really bother anyone. In those markets that are now conflicted with flat or declining prices, I can sure see why this method of data fudging is unfair. I’ll be totally honest, I’ve had homes listed for months (specs) and I’ve sure wondered aloud “how can I reset the clock, they’re going to try and undercut me since they know it’s been listed so long”

  13. Jennifer K. Giraldi, North Atlanta REALTOR® says:

    Awesome Post again Frank. We need to start are own National Real Estate Police Force….LOL

  14. LLoyd Nichols - Realtor Florida says:

    Great Blog Frank.

    In Lee County one may try to Fat free fudge an MLS, and therefore “reset “the number of DOM but we have a property history button over the listing and one can check if the same realtor was fudging or not.One looked like it had been 33 days on the market, but it was actually 288 days.AS far as fudging the taxes.many try to put an older tax amount but I have not seen the 0000 here yet.In my office at Rens in Fort Myers, we have to fill a complete list of creteria to our processor, among others we have to make a copy of the property tax from the Lee County Appraisor. WE have also problems with realtors pretending they do not know the square footage and put a 00 and also do not disclose the lot size. A Realtor should know how to do it. There is a fair amount of fudging here I am afraid but a good Realtor will find the truth pretty fast.It is true that some properties do not have any Pid but the county does have a tax calculator so you can come up with a very close number anyway.
    Thanks for the blog!

  15. Monika McGillicuddy- New Hampshire Realtor says:

    Thankfully our MLS has a history button…which searches the property address to see if it’s been on the market before. Probably not 100% perfect but it sure helps. As a buyer agent I always double check.

  16. Ann Cummings, REALTOR ~ Portsmouth, NH says:

    Frank – As MoniKa wrote above, our MLS tries to prevent that kind of thing by the “history” button we have, and we also have some rules that address taking a property out of the MLS so it can be entered as a new listing, another way to help try to prevent ‘fudging’.

    No matter what one puts in place, or already has in place, there will always be those who feel the need to try to circumvent the rules, whatever the rules may be. Why they always have to work that way is beyond me, but they do. Make a rule and someone will always spend time trying to find ways to break it.


  17. Rebecca says:

    OK… more of a question here but I am hoping someone can answer it since we have had conflicting answers.

    My sister in law had her home in Pasadena, MD listed for about 3 months. Her then agent stated that they should take the property off of the market for the winter, wait 2 months (60 days) and then relist it so the days on the list would be reset at zero. She is disappointed that she followed that advice. She will be relisting her home in the next few weeks. Our question is this… what is the amount of time that a property must be off of the market for the DOM to show as zero? She is interviewing agents now and doesn’t know what to do. if anyone can tell me, please email me at . I have been researching this for her for hours and can’t find an answer that will bring her some comfort.

    Thank you.

  18. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Rebecca,
    I won’t worry on whether it is 60 days or 90 days. I would focus on making the house look like a model home. Make SURE she reads my blog on Why Most Listing Agents Suck.

    You can also email directly to helpdesk(at)mris(dot)net they run the MLS. But again, I’d ignore that and get a great agent.


  19. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much… WOW that was a quick reply!

    I am going to forward your message to her now. If you hear from her… her email starts Bell!

    Have a great day!

  20. tchaka owen says:

    Rebecca, if I’m looking to buy a house, I worry less about DOM and more about how the home is and whether it’s priced right. And I believe that’s how many others view homes. So your sister should focus on satisfying the needs of the buyer and not whether or not the house has been on the market X amount of days. Good luck!

  21. NewbieHomeBuyer says:

    This entry has reminded me of a property whose mls number had completely changed, along with the DOM stats.

    On 4/20/2008, I visited an open house at ‘13407 BURROUGH FARM DR, HERNDON VA 20171’. At the time, it was listed with mls #FX6733567. The agent at the open house gave me a stats sheet, dated 4/18/08, that listed a DOM-MLS/Prop value of ‘0/0’.

    Then, sometime in May 2008, I checked back on the property via the mls number, and the property was gone. Couple of days later, I googled the address and found the same exact property under mls #FX6761918. And yes, the DOM stats were completely reset.

    Would this be an example of illegal fudging? Is there any legal reason why a property would be relisted under a different mls number?

  22. FRANK LL0SA Va Broker- says:

    In your example, the new MLS # has a non working TAXID number (missing dashes), while the same agent previously posted that listing with the correct Tax ID.

    One can trick the system this way (different Tax ID) so that the DOMP would reset. I can not say for certain if this was intentional.

    The relisting did shave off 18 days off the DOMP.

    As for when can a listing have a new MLS#, that happens all the time. Sometimes a new MLS # can be legit if a new agent takes over, or if the same agent relists it (I call that legal fat free fudge) which is allowed as long as it doesn’t reset the DOMP. I don’t allow that practice or relisting (the type that resets even the DOMM) since I think it is shady.

    Again, the legal fat free fudge does not reset the MLS DOMP, just the DOMM (which most sites show).


  23. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see your posts. I’m a broker in Florida and I think honesty and integrity is huge in our business. If you have to cirumvent the system it is not right.
    There are so many houses on the market here that Realtors try anything to get a house sold. For instance, how many of you have seen a list price that is too good to be true? It usually is a short sale or foreclosure. When a buyer makes a “list price offer” it is rejected by the bank (usually takes 4 to 8 wks to find out). Come to find out the owner owes $100,000 more than the list price! Banks aren’t willing to give a $100,000 discount. I always check the tax records now to see how much the owner owes and then warn my buyers before they make an offer. Realtors can really help their clients by doing a little research prior to submitting an offer.
    Keep up the good work!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful blog with great posts! However, you’ve made a critical flaw in your math – 20 1% chances does not yield a 20% chance as probabilities are multiplicative. Sorry to get all academic, but 120 1% chances would not yield a 120% chance of occerence. The probability of randomly pulling 100 houses and seeing 1 MLS fudged is … 1-2% as you yourself found.

  25. Jesse says:

    The estimate is pretty rough, but it would make roughly an 18% chance -(1 – 0.99^20) of seeing a listing with a fudged days on market number.

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