Listing Syndication - Failure to Launch

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting

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?

 

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Rainmaker
655,982
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
I think you are right on. There comes a point where no reasonable person can keep up with it all. And then to have an assistant do it, one has to justify if it is cost effective. Some things are not cost effective.
Aug 14, 2007 04:32 PM #44
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL
Hey Karen- welcome to the twilight zone of real estate brokerage - there is so much stuff to absorb and figure out there and at the same time so many people who don't have a clue that any of this is going on.  And because so many agents have no idea I do think it is a good idea for the broker to just go figure things out and do it for them.  We live in interesting times.  
Aug 15, 2007 12:46 AM #45
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL
Bob and Carolin - it is an especially  tough call in a down market 
Aug 15, 2007 12:47 AM #46
Rainmaker
61,402
Kevin Tomlinson
One Sotheby's International Realty- Miami Beach Real Estate - Miami Beach, FL
Miami Beach Real Estate

Karen

Loved, love, loved your comment!  It is the crux (sp?) of the burden of learning something new.  Coming back from San Francisco, I learned that there are so many ways to market properties, easier ,cheaper and faster.

Beth and I have a running joke that we are always 5 minutes behind on everything( though most people would say we were light years ahead)--but the reality is more like 2.5 minutes behind--but don't tell anyone, ok?

Aug 15, 2007 02:50 AM #47
Rainer
9,842
Karen Ross
Esslinger Wooten Maxwell - Weston, FL

Beth -- when you don your "Spock" ears, the final frontier will open up, you will go where few have gone before, and you will be showered with instant knowledge about all that you have been pondering. I will see you next Wednesday morning in Dade with camera in hand.

Kevin -- my head was spinning thinking about how anyone could write a program (even though our IT guys walk on water) to seamlessly upload all the listing info, photos, etc., with one click of a button, when every time I go into any website, the INTERFACE changes!  even MLX has given us a tough round with "the link"  when they change their programming from time to time . . .  glad you're back home safe. Do share.

Aug 15, 2007 03:46 AM #48
Rainer
9,842
Karen Ross
Esslinger Wooten Maxwell - Weston, FL

Gee, another website (to add to the list????):  www.321gone.com.   Help me, Rhonda!  The postcard I received in the mail today stated, "Ask Your Realtor Why Your Home Isn't Listed on 321gone.com . . .A great new way to sell your home! The only website buyers and sellers will ever need to use!" 

Check it out if you dare.

Aug 15, 2007 01:07 PM #49
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL
Karen - went to the site - looks like an auction site to me... but it has the disclaimer "This is not an auction site"...
Aug 15, 2007 01:52 PM #50
Rainer
9,842
Karen Ross
Esslinger Wooten Maxwell - Weston, FL

Beth -- I am sure you read the "about us" -- not an auction site but the home is supposedly listed at that lowest possible list price for a period of time.  No cost to the Seller -- not sure about the cost to the agent.

Oh, I see.  "The fee to post your listings is $29.95 a month. This fee allows you to post unlimited listings, upload up to six pictures and type unlimited text describing your listing in detail."

The card I got in the mail was their marketing of the website. Another website (with a fee) to add to Janie's list (if not already there)! Interesting.

Aug 15, 2007 03:02 PM #51
Rainer
8,208
James Clark
Real Estate Professional - Potomac, MD

In order to seamlessly upload listing data to multiple systems, there are many components that need to interact. This cannot be done with a "single program."  At a high-level, sending and receiving data occurs in the back-end or Itegration tier. A web site interface is another part of an application. The key to note is that the presentation of data is different than the transportation of the data.

A close assessment of skills may be in order, and there are many different types of "pools of water" in the IT realm. There are many industry efforts dedicated to the sharing and efficient transfer of real property information.

Brief Technical Overview of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) (http://activerain.com/blogsview/83454/Overview-of-Real-Estate)

RETS (http://www.realtor.org/CRTweb.nsf/pages/CRTRETS?OpenDocument)

 

Aug 16, 2007 05:47 AM #52
Rainer
9,842
Karen Ross
Esslinger Wooten Maxwell - Weston, FL

Chris -- I read your profile (very slowly -- hey, I'm from Tennessee) and you obviously know what you are talking about.

I know that there are "back-ends" to these websites from my brief encounter with various IT people -- but I didn't want to mention "back-end" in my comment for fear of what Kevin Tomlinson might write!  ha!.

This "transferring of data" would have to be handled by a techie at the broker level and not by an agent unless the agent had the background and/or the program for doing so. I would be concerned about blowing up the entire infrastructure of the web. 

Thanks for the info.  I glanced at your post regarding RETS and I will read it (probably 2x) once my blurring vision from reading Beth's blogs has returned to normal.  Good luck in your biz!

 

Aug 16, 2007 01:20 PM #53
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL
Christain - we have been waiting for RETS in our area for a couple of years now.  There was one broker in our area who went to the MLS to get the permission for the feed and it was turned down - but the broker found a way to do it anyway.  We would welcome a RETS feed or anything else for that matter that would help us along.  To date there is nothing in our area.
Aug 16, 2007 11:54 PM #54
Rainer
8,208
James Clark
Real Estate Professional - Potomac, MD

Beth, thank you for the information! It is greatly appreciated. We are currently working on some materials that directly address this issue. I will send you a copy of our presentation as soon as it is ready.

Aug 17, 2007 06:20 AM #55
Rainer
5,702
Richard Bolen
Dickson Realty - Zephyr Cove, NV
CRS, ABR, CLHMS, e-PRO, Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information
Beth, thanks for commenting today on the post about AR that Gary and I recently did. Mentioning you on it was our pleasure. 
Aug 17, 2007 01:11 PM #56
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL

CHristian - look forward to it.

Richard - thank you 

Aug 18, 2007 03:11 AM #57
Anonymous
carol housen

Hi all!!! I am reading the comments. I don't quite know how to figure where our future will go , but I find it exciting. Even knowing I am not a geek but  love the chalenge. I only hope i can learn as afst as need to to keep up.

 I would assume there needs to be someone overseeing at the top to keep it all honest. If my readiNg serves me right, could this replace mls and those realtoR sites that take so many of our hard earned $$$$$$$  as we know it to One Big Internet World for free?? I look forward to getting into this new way of marKeting as well as I will share when I met Beth we nicknamed her to have the middle initials HP!!! I guess you all Know why. Brilliant! Thanks, Beth.

CAROL HOUSEN

Aug 19, 2007 08:45 AM #58
Anonymous
carol housen

Hi all!!! I am reading the comments. I don't quite know how to figure where our future will go , but I find it exciting. Even knowing I am not a geek but  love the chalenge. I only hope i can learn as afst as need to to keep up.

 I would assume there needs to be someone overseeing at the top to keep it all honest. If my readiNg serves me right, could this replace mls and those realtoR sites that take so many of our hard earned $$$$$$$  as we know it to One Big Internet World for free?? I look forward to getting into this new way of marKeting as well as I will share when I met Beth we nicknamed her to have the middle initials HP!!! I guess you all Know why. Brilliant! Thanks, Beth.

CAROL HOUSEN

Aug 19, 2007 08:45 AM #59
Rainer
8,208
James Clark
Real Estate Professional - Potomac, MD

Here is a high-level diagram of the system we are working on. This system will enable brokers to control their listing data and publish it to multiple systems, in accordance with association guidelines, state laws, and their own policies and procedures.

http://activerain.com/blogsview/188837/Broker-Systems-Control-Listing

 

Aug 30, 2007 08:07 AM #60
Rainer
42,470
Artur Urbanski
Cimpler Real Estate, Inc. - Burlingame, CA
Helping property owners to maximize property value
Beth, a great post as usually.  Syndication became a fact of life.  But only a few sites really count, so it for statistical reasons I would say that 10 is more than enough.  What do you think?
Aug 30, 2007 08:34 PM #61
Rainer
32,950
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL

Christian - thanks for the update- it looks very interesting.

Artur - I would agree- for now 10 is enough 

Aug 30, 2007 08:46 PM #62
Rainer
4,618
Tony Fernandez
Austin, TX

I don't see the future of these sites as an expense to brokers/agents.  Their typical revenue model is advertising, so they want as much content as possible so custoemrs come to them.  The internet business model is all about traffic.

I use a software solution from VTX Solutions www.vtxsolutions.com that is directly connected to my local MLS and automatically pulls my listings to my websites and sends them to the syndication sites nightly.  I don't have to a thing once I've entered my listing into the MLS.  To enter listings into another application, after you've already done it in the MLS is redundant and a waste of our valuable time.

Apr 15, 2008 06:09 AM #63
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