The Problems with Syndicating Your Listing Inventory

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I thought this post was funny and very informative. I had to reblog it. Thanks for the blog Bart.


Original content by Bartley Wilson


"Well you know man, everyone is smoking marijuana. And you can't put everyone in jail, you know?"

That kind of mentality can also used with brokers and agents who now "syndicate" their listings, online too.  

So many of us are doing it, we tend to point at the whole industry when we get into trouble when syndicating our homes to every Tom, Dick and Harry website out there.

"You guys syndicate listings? okay, here. Take my homes. Please."   That kind of thinking is getting a lot of brokers and agents into a little bit of hot water because few REALTORS are reading the fine print. And that fine print on some of these syndication portals are dumping your listings into Consumer MLS Portals which in effect -- sometimes compete with traditional and trusted sources of MLS data. 

Homes that have long since been sold are often shown as active and available right now on some "listing portals" and through many syndicated websites.  And in some cases, the broker or agent had no clue where their homes would wind up at. 

We tend to use the herd mentality and we see lots of agents pushing our homes on Trulia. So, we mooooove that direction and we do the same thing. Then Listing Hub. Then Point 2. Then VAST and the list just goes on and on.

How many REALTORS are reading the fine print BEFORE they press the SEND button to list their properties on some of these sites? Apparently, not many. Because of the 1.7 million homes listed right now on a dozen websites, more than 37% of all homes listed on many popular listing portals contain out dated listing information right now.


The Trouble with Trulia

Putting more fishing poles in the water is a good idea -- to an extent. But conventional wisdom applies here, too. Don't be stupid. If Google is generating 74% of your traffic, leads and conversions, then it makes sense to stay with Google Base for syndicating your listings. There's no need to waste your time on tinier portals that might bring you a fish.

Focus on what works. Forget what doesn't produce a lot of results. 

Linking your home inventory to a website without knowing WHERE ELSE the portal sends your listings to can sometimes get you into trouble as the cartoon above shows,, VAST and Postlets are guilty on this charge.  Homes that are sold, expired or deleted sometimes remain on other portals they syndicate to and if you read their fine print, it's scary. You have ZERO control over the data once you post to these portals.  And this is what is getting a lot of you into hot water. 


At the end of the day, REALTORS are hired for one thing when it comes to your listings. We're expected to use our brain and our marketing savvy to help the homeowner find a buyer.  Period.   I would argue, that we have too many choices. Too many portals. Every REALTOR is struggling for Google page one visibility. Syndication portals allow us to carpet bomb next time home owners who are searching for a home. 

Syndication is a lot like fishing. You put one fishing pole into the water. You might catch a fish. You put a lot of fishing poles into the water and you're bound to catch a fish sooner rather than later. 

I went fishing a few months ago near my favorite spot at the Elephant Butte Dam, near Truth or Consequences, NM. I'd been fishing in the same spot for hours and I'm catching a fish about every 30 minutes. Then this Coors drinking moron shows up with his drunk friends and a fancier boat. He pulls up about 300 feet from mine, weighs his anchor and starts tossing huge amounts of chum into the water.

I'm not the only one who is thinking this is one of the ways we are cheapening and destroying the value of what REALTORS bring to the table. Chumming for buyers is the same thing as the jerk in the fishing boat in my humble opinion. 

Not too many years ago, you had to physically drive to and visit with Real Estate Brokerage if you were shopping for a new home. REALTORS once upon a time were the only trusted source for buying or selling a home. Now, buying or selling a home is as close as your Mac or PC. And the Internet isn't always giving us accurate information. Corners are cut. Information is out dated or just plain wrong. 

In my humble opinion, it's a real mess. And I don't think there's any quick fixes here, either.


What Can Go Wrong When you Syndicate Your Listings?

But the problem comes in when the originator or the syndicated portal isn't updating the other websites you have them posted on. A real time syndicator with RETS is needed because it uses a form of bread crumb technology that constantly looks for "triggers," to change, or delete the listing on the other website portals. 

Listings linked to such a system using RETS can be programmed with a "trigger event," or flag. Properties are rigged to watch for changes from the source or syndicating server.

So when 14 Elm Street is now under contract, the banner flag changes instantly to PENDING and all links to that property through the syndicated portal are updated within minutes or a few hours.

When a home is expired or withdrawn, the syndicated links are shut down and removed.

Homes that are SOLD often stay on line for 90 days or longer.

This has the tendency to make new home owners upset when buyers come calling three months or more AFTER they closed on the home. Because some buyers tracked down the home through Google maps and eventually contacted the new home owner. 

You can imagine what comes next. 




The home owner places an angry call to the agent's broker they closed with, or worse -- they write a nasty gram to the local REALTOR association demanding someone's head on a stick.  It can get pretty ugly and uncomfortable. 

This kind of problem is what is fueling the technology is already being discussed and implemented as the new STANDARD for real estate driven database appliance servers called RETS. This stands for Real Estate Transaction Standard.  More information on RETS can be found here.


More Headaches with Listing Syndication

Listings are being scraped from and other real estate portals on homes for sale and are reposted on other websites and are shown as FOR RENT properties.

Here's how the SCAM works;


  • You stumble on a website that features homes for rent.
  • You call them, or email them and eventually you decide to RENT the home.
  • The scammer asks you to send them a PayPal payment or you give them a check by mail.
  • They promise to meet you at the home or some office (that doesn't really exist) and you end up discovering from the shocked REALTOR that the listing was never for rent, and you've just been scammed.


This kind of problem goes on a lot more than we think and it's so rampant, the news media isn't even covering it anymore. 


Kayyah  (PHOENIX) has a unique PhatKey technology that will destroy scraped listings when they are placed on unauthorized websites and listing portals, but I am not allowed to spill the beans on that technology until January. 


RE-Syndication and Losing Control of Your Listings. Ouch. 

The broker has no written rights with Trulia, VAST or Postlets as to what other servers or portals your syndicated properties will go to. Kayyah is the only exception.  That system is a private MLS that allows any REALTOR or Broker to manually create listings for virtually any property. 

Automatic reposting of homes to other portals or re-syndication creates problems as home owners as well as REALTORS have complained they had no control over where the listings went to -- and without their written consent. 

Kayyah's current system is version 9.5 and offers limited perks for re-syndication.

A lot of brokers and agents have forgotten to update homes on Kayyah after they expired or sold. Which explains why a lot of home inventory is on line without photos right now. Kayyah was one of the first alternatives to and it allowed syndication of listings by hand - a key benefit that no other portals currently offer.  Kayyah was built in 2004 and got started well before Trulia and before Zillow. Kayyah is page one #1 when you Google: international MLS.

For all the media hoopla over Zillow, Trulia and other portals -- Kayyah has remained a silent submarine, but is soon to surface with some clever nuclear inventory designed to obliterate the me-too syndication portals. 

PHOENIX, is version 10 of Kayyah. It will be a brand new breed of Open MLS Server Appliances and it will feature RETS "trigger events," to control real time display of homes syndicated through Kayyah to other real estate portals. It will be the first OPEN MLS system to allow residential, commercial, short sales, foreclosures, recreational property and luxury property rentals (by owner) from one source.  Right now, has been the dominant 800lb gorilla when buyers go shopping for Commercial properties. PHOENIX will be coming up pretty fast in Loopnet's rear view mirror.   

When a home is changed at the MLS level to OPEN HOUSE for example, within minutes -- all links to the Kayyah (PHOENIX) portal will update the syndicated listing and it sends an IDX VML command to the other listing portals. Which updates the other portals within nanoseconds. 

Which loosely translated means Real Time Property Updates will soon be possible with the PHOENIX MLS Appliance servers. 

Real Estate Syndication Portal Comparison Chart

Graphic 1.1. Data points (above) courtesy from the WAVE Group. RETS and PhatKey Syndication courtesy of Kayyah Worldwide Partners Group. 


This is becoming a popular listing syndicating portal, but there's just one problem with CraigsList. You can't automate a string of homes as an XML/RSS feed into CraigsList. They just don't allow that. It's a Web 1.0, manually updated classified system. There's not a lot of beeps, bells or whistles with CraigsList and it remains to be seen if we are going to see more robust system anytime in the near future. 


Some crafty agents are inserting pretty HTML newsletter templates into CraigsList. It's manually done and it becoming a popular way of showcasing Short Sales and Foreclosures for many discount shopping, next time home buyers. 



Final Thoughts on Listing Syndication

A publication from Roost in 2008 showed that many Website real estate portals are still showing homes that have long since expired or have been sold.  While it sounds simple to have MLS data updated throughout the entire downline of syndicated chain of servers that show the same home photo, price and status of the home... it's been far from being easy to mop up the mess.  

The problem stems from the simple fact there are more than 30 different MLS vendors out there. Rapatonni, Innovia, Paragon and a whole lot more. No two MLS companies create MLS server appliances the same way. No two MLS servers will communicate some fields the same way, either. 

One MLS shows a half bathroom as 1/2 bath.  The other MLS shows it as a fraction .5 bath.  

This is like playing out the scene from the Cool Hand Luke where the Sheriff blurts out, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate.

RETS promises to solve this communication problem but it is going to take at least another 2 to 3 years to see RETS in place for all the MLS servers and even longer for the other big players like Trulia, Zillow, VAST and AOL to adopt RETS into their proprietary systems.  

Colorado Springs PPAR is still old fashioned in that way. IDX and IDL feeds are pulled nightly. They dump all their photos and data into IDX vendors servers once every night at 2:00 am. ALE Exchange in Anchorage is the same way, as is countless other cities across the country.


I'd like to hear your thoughts, and nightmare stories on listing syndication.

I'm finishing my my 3rd book, "Real Estate Warriors," and I'd like to collect a few more stories direct from a few REALTOR fox holes on this issue.

For more information on Listing Syndication, the WAV Group is an excellent source for learning more about this subject. Click here to register and get a copy of their FREE Report on this topic. 







Bart Wilson | Chief Marketing Officer | SEO Rockstar

Voyager International. The Real Estate Marketing Company

Tel: (505) 466-2483  iPhone: (505) 204-8097

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Comments (1)

MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Wow, thanks for re-posting this. The biggest problem I actually see is with AGENTS not updating their files. Many agents are happy to let the public think they have more listings out there than they really do. I've seen one local husband & wife agents show they have "119 listings" - however NONE were active! It's simple, just DELETE them once they're sold, especially from Postlets. I have literally seen listings where the home sold over 2 YEARS ago get "refreshed" and show up as not just for sale but NEWLY for sale, as of today's date!

Dec 15, 2009 06:53 PM