In the last two years the co-op type field selection of “not available for co-brokerage” is getting more than its fair share of use. We have all heard many different explanations as to why, but no matter the reason there are multiple legal and ethical issues that come into play.
The first concern is the relationship with fellow brokers. If you sell boats in North America, you probably already belong to one of the seven yacht broker associations that cover the region. If you are a Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB) you belong to at least one if not multiple yacht broker associations. As a member of an association, you have vowed to adhere to a code of ethics.
I would urge brokers to revisit the code of ethics of their association for a section on how you are to do business with your fellow brokers. In the Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA) code of ethics, specifically section 3 “Relations with His Fellow Broker,” you can find the outline of how to be ethical with your fellow broker. The following line appears: The Broker will cooperate with other Brokers on vessels listed by him/her on a Central Listing basis whenever it is in the interest of the Seller, sharing commissions on a previously agreed basis.
Another major concern is the listing contract you are using. If you are using the YBAA central listing agreement, the broker responsibilities are clearly spelled out. Under section “D” (The Broker Agrees: line 2), reads: To prepare information describing the VESSEL and to distribute this information through its multiple listing systems to brokerage companies, hereafter referred to as “Corresponding Brokers.”
By signing the central listing agreement you are agreeing to the broker responsibilities and telling your client that you will prepare the listing information to be shared with your fellow corresponding brokers. Any attorney could easily imply that you have a duty to share the listing. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the responsibilities you are agreeing to do for your client.
You can find the YBAA Central Listing Agreement here.
Lastly, check the websites that you are advertising your boats for sale on. The user agreements might state that a certain percentage of your central listings need to be “Available for Co-Brokerage”. After all, the spirit of an MLS (multiple listing service) by definition is: A database established by cooperating brokers to provide data about vessels for sale. The MLS allows brokers to see one another’s listings of vessels for sale with the goal of connecting buyers to sellers through professional brokers. Under this arrangement, both the listing and selling broker benefit by consolidating and sharing information.
The bottom line is if you choose to select the co-op type “Not Available for Co-Brokerage” you are potentially exposing yourself to ethical and legal action and you may be violating a user agreement.
The best advice I can give you is if you see “Not Available for Co-Brokerage”, pick up the phone and give the listing broker a call. The majority of the time, two brokers talking to each other will get the issue resolved without bringing in an additional party.
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