Why We Love - and HATE - Automatic Syndication!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with RealSupport Inc.

For those of you that are not familiar, syndication has become all the rage with MLS’s, websites, you name it. The way it works is you enter your listing onto one site, let’s say your MLS. Your MLS then “feeds” it (or sends the listings automatically) to several other sites.

Why We LOVE Automatic Syndication:

  • It is convenient and less work for us/our agents.
  • Time is money, and this saves a lot of time, in turn saving money.
  • Agents who do not have large budgets can strategically place their listings on a select few websites that feed to many other sites, getting the most “bang for their buck”.

Why We HATE Automatic Syndication:

  • By allowing your listings to syndicate, you are giving up control over the content that is fed.
  • Any listing information that is syndicated cannot be changed.
  • So many sites are syndicating; it has become an issue that listings are being “fed” onto one site several times from several places.
  • For our clients that want as many photos, as much ad copy & information as possible on all marketing, they are giving up the ability to add any of that information.
  • Profile information – This one is huge – when your listing syndicates, it does not actually go into an account, with your profile information, a photo, etc. Therefore, there is not nearly as much branding on your listings as there would be if they were manually entered.
  • The biggest challenge for us is giving up the control over your listings. You can no longer change a photo or price, you are at the mercy of the “feed” and when the “feed” doesn’t work, it is VERY difficult and time intensive to find someone to help you fix it.

What is our solution?
The trick to getting the most out of syndication is to take a careful inventory BEFORE you start marketing your listing. Look into where all of your marketing sites syndicate to and then make sure you are only allowing one feed to each site if possible.

For example, Mr. Marketing places his listings in the MLS, it goes on his ColdwellBanker site, Postlets, Point2Agent and he has a VisualTour created for it. All of these sites, minus the MLS, feed to Trulia and Zillow. So now, a decision needs to be made – which site will you allow to feed? We recommend choosing the one with the most information, in this case Point2Agent.

Mr. Marketing’s next step is to go onto all of the other sites, and remove (uncheck) Trulia and Zillow from the feed sites allowed. This way, his listing will only feed onto Trulia and Zillow from one source, removing the multiple listing issue.

I suppose what I am trying to say, is that we see the benefits of syndication; it is an amazing tool to get your listings seen on an almost unlimited number of sites. But, buyer beware, and just know that you no longer have control over your listing, which is now on an almost unlimited number of sites. So, it is important when utilizing feeds to take the bad with the good. Just know, it is not a perfect system, and there will be issues. At times the issues end up costing more to fix than it would have to just manually enter them in the first place.

We’d like to think that over time and with experience, we’ve become “syndication experts”. We know what sites auto syndicate and we also have certain sites that we recommend posting to manually.

Don’t have time to wrap your head around all of this? Let you Real Estate Virtual Assistant dig deeper and devise a syndication plan that works for you!

Syndication – We most definitely have a love/hate relationship with it.

Jen Miller
Marketing Manager

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Rainer
268,446
South Austin Real Estate Blog
Sky Realty South Austin - Austin, TX

If you are following the NAR and IDX snafu on Agent Genius you will see how dangerous it can become for agents to rely on syndicating listings and not having the ability to display those listings on any other realtors idx sites.  What a mess it is. Time will tell about the resolution or outcome of Thursdays meeting at the NAR convention.

May 12, 2009 10:52 AM #1
Rainmaker
298,871
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate

I am really interested in what Gail just said....will have to go check that out.  I found this to be a good article showing that what we think is good might not be. 

May 12, 2009 01:32 PM #2
Rainmaker
301,963
Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

I just read Gail's post and it sounds very interesting. It goes to show that things are changing constantly in our business, which can be good and bad, and we all have to keep updated. Thanks for the post.

May 12, 2009 01:48 PM #3
Rainmaker
657,504
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

I've noticed that Postlets, and I think Realbird also, has a box that says "others" that you can check for syndication. Do you know what "others" they syndicate to?

May 12, 2009 01:59 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,517,838
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

We used to have syndication issues when we had 2 competing mls's that finally merged - problem solved.  Once you give your information, your listing, over to any site you no longer have any control over where it goes.  AND YOUR SUPPOSED TO LOVE IT!  Don't you know what's best for you and your listing????? That's what they want you to believe.  Let's not even mention the scraping that goes on that you never find out about!

May 12, 2009 02:04 PM #5
Ambassador
511,020
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

I always thought the more sites it went to the better.  Now I have to get my head around the issure that that may not be the case.

May 12, 2009 02:29 PM #6
Rainmaker
183,243
Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Unlimited Northwest - Cary, IL
SRES;SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL

Good points about the pros and cons of syndication.  I think it is important advertise your listing in as many places as possible online, but you are right, we do lose control of the content in many of these syndications.  I always let my sellers know up front that there are some sites I have control over and many I do not, so they know why if they see it somewhere with the "old" price or picture.  We even have a clause about that in our listing agreement to disclose this in writing.

May 13, 2009 12:29 AM #7
Rainer
113,497
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

You make a great point. I make a big point out of getting all of the information prepared prior tp listing input in the mls. There are a lot of agents that input their listing and then add photos and additional information as they get it. What these agents don't understand (or care about) is the fact that most of these listings are syndicated within 15 minutes of hitting the mls and the information won't be changed once it is sent out.

May 13, 2009 02:02 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,431,110
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

P2A is a great listing tool.

May 13, 2009 04:42 AM #9
Rainmaker
191,008
Billie Hillier
http://702IsHome.com - North Las Vegas, NV
Savvy Home Realty Solutions

Some of the sites that the syndication goes to have a way you can create profiles and "capture" your listing to your profile. If you are a premium member with Trulia if there are multiple feeds you can choose the link that is displayed. (broker site, postlets, P2, etc.)  Not all will let you do this but some do.

May 13, 2009 10:41 AM #10
Rainer
133,735
TERRY DRISCOLL
MAINE HOME REALTY - Bath, ME
REALTOR - Buy or Sell in Any Season!

I am a control freak and almost had to seek professional help to deal with the loss of control caused by syndication - - for a long time I would never check the Zillow box (the free-for-all nature of this site still annoys me) on the Postlet feed - - then our MLS started feeding to Zillow, I just threw up my hands and gave in to the syndication pandemonium - - Que Serra, Serra!

May 13, 2009 01:18 PM #11
Ambassador
2,007,427
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

It sounds like I need to take a closer at syndication.  I've been happy to have syndication, but it sounds like there are negatives to it.

May 13, 2009 02:07 PM #12
Rainer
36,215
Skye Hawk
At Your Service! Virtual Assistant Specialists - Fountain Hills, AZ
NAR Cert. REPA "Rockstar REVA"

Yes one good point on the hate is you can't control what information is fed on the syndicated websites it is kind of a pain.

May 15, 2009 04:39 AM #13
Rainmaker
310,766
RealSupport, Inc.
RealSupport Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
- Virtual Real Estate Marketing

Hi All!

Based on the number of responses, this is certainly a hot topic right now! I love Debra's idea about adding a disclaimer to her listing agreement! I think by adding a clause like that and explaining how it works to sellers ahead of time you can avoid having upset clients. Sellers are increasingly tech savvy and are often finding their listings on sites their agents didn't even know they were listed on! By explaining this to them ahead of time, you can avoid a lot of confusion!

I think we are all in agreement, there are pros and cons, but either way you have to keep up with the technology, and just sort of "go with the flow" when it comes to syndication!

Thanks!

May 20, 2009 02:13 AM #14
Rainmaker
191,008
Billie Hillier
http://702IsHome.com - North Las Vegas, NV
Savvy Home Realty Solutions

In your marketing package for your sellers, explain the technology and how MLS feeds to Realtor.com, Trulia, zillow, etc. and that some feeds are every 15 minutes (Realtor.com) to several days to catch up with the changes. Create a bulleted list of all the places their home will be syndicated to.

May 20, 2009 03:33 AM #15
Rainmaker
563,528
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Selling Waterfront in Gladwin & Midland County

Great post!  And as someone who knows about syndication I totally GET your love/hate relationship with it!

May 21, 2009 03:09 AM #16
Anonymous
Victor Lund

WAV Group has done a report that measures the impact of listing syndication.  It may be downloaded for free from our website.

Brokers are in a great spot for managing listing syndication, agents have little or no control other than witholding the listing from all internet display with client consent.

We have written a number of articles on the topic that can be found here.

You point out two key issues.

1.  It is very difficult to manange your syndicated listings

2.  Once you syndicate your listing, you are providing companies outside of real estate with historical listing data that they can keep and reuse as they wish.

Jun 25, 2009 11:45 PM #17
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Rainmaker
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RealSupport, Inc.

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