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I have been a real estate agent and member of local boards of REALTORS, NAR and FAR since 1998. My experience is that the real estate industry is very competitive. The MLS gives brokers from all size companies to cooperate in selling real estate. The comsumer is benefited by this cooperation. However, not all brokers have to put their listings on the MLS and even if they do so their clients can request to "opt-out" of that feature.
Sellers do not have to use a broker to sell their property and many represent themselves and go the route of "For Sale by Owner." They can have their own web site, run newspaper ads, radio announcements, distribute flyers and many other means of making their property known to potential buyers.
For those who choose to work with a broker they have a lot of choice. They can choose from any number of companies and any number of agents. They may pay a very small fee just to have a presence on the MLS or a little more and get representation. In Florida they can find brokers who will represent the transaction as a transactional broker or as a non-representative or they can choose a broker who will be there for them as a single agent.
There are as many models of real estate as there are agents and companies. Even within the same company agents work differently. It is not easy to be successful in this business and for that reason many people try, but give up after a short time.
There is more to real estate than passing an exam. It requires investing one's resources, learning to work with people, long hours, going on to additional study and learning by actually doing. We are many businesses under one name but that gives the opportunity for great variety, keen competititon and satisfied consumers.
Jim and Dianne Randall, REALTORS®