Some days I can't get out of my own head...you know what I mean - those days where thoughts rarely find their way to actions. So I thought I would put a call out for clarification to see what kind of opinions come back.
Our IT department has been working on a listing feed to drop to some of the more popular listing sites, you know the ones I mean - those large national databases that are not MLS/IDX driven. Many of our agents have said they are getting great traffic on their individual listings so it seemed like a good thing to pursue. So pursue we did and all systems are go, but I am having trouble giving the final launch orders. i can't help but thinking... Is Listing Syndication a Smart Move?
On the countdown for launch... here is my system diagnosis:
1. It's FREE and free is good - but for how long? Maybe I shouldn't care. But let's just say zillions of leads start pouring in and the feed just seems to good to be true until it is no longer free... then what? How much are the leads worth? Will the bill of burden be put upon the broker's lap? the agent's lap? or both? Will the cost of the most successful sites be cost prohibitive to a smaller brokerage? Are we on a doomed mission with no way back?
2. These aggregate sites are not necessarily Realtor friendly. When you move away from MLS/IDX feeds, the rules of order and honesty start to disappear - no one to call when your listing shows up as duplicate content because another broker or the owner uploaded it. No control over the content which may be anti-agent in nature. I understand consumers want more information, but who is in the control center monitoring the mission? Do they really care if you crash and burn?
3. How many sites is enough? When does it stop? I hear a lot about layering your web presence - just like ad reps used to talk about print ads. So if you believe the hype - your inventory needs to be everywhere - on every local, national and Realtor site in the country, or else you might miss someone. Are we so anxious to join the race that we are willing to jump on a ship with no guidance system?
At the risk of stirring a bit of controversy - I have to ask - is there any real value in listing syndication at the broker level - or are we all just so lured by the promise of leads and the peer pressure of new models that we are doomed to repeat the mistake we made with print ads? Are there so many unique buyers and sellers out there that we must be in every free site or are we really just layering the same listings on the same sets of eyeballs?
I can certainly see where an individual agent could see value in the time spent to load their listings every place they can and reap the rewards of any leads that come their way. But at the broker level where you are deciding for thousands of listings - I am not so sure. I can't help but think we should know better than to build someone else's business model with our inventory without knowing how much it will ultimately cost. Afterall, where would consumer's go for real estate information if these aggregate sites did not exist? Wouldn't we be better off providing better information and maximizing our own search engine content to drive traffic to our sites? But then again, I could just be lost in my own head. So give me the order - launch or scrub this mission?