This is a difficult decision for many. I think a lot of agents participating in Active Rain are more likely to syndicate listings - so this may be a little one sided on this site - but I may be off on that. Debates are going on across the country (Listing Syndication Failure to Launch, Challenging the MLS Data Assumption ). Some vendors are preying on ignorance. You may not have decided for yourself. If anything I hope that reading this may help clarify points in your mind and help you consider the issue for your own listings. I'm hoping someone will be able to fill in a perspective that I may have missed or that you feel is not understood in the community.
Let's Begin.... (this gives you a little background to some of the perspectives I've seen)
There's of course Realtor.com - The site that was started to benefit the National community of realtors. It created one site for consumers to visit and search all the listings. We also know that this has morphed and at this time we have a national site that should be benefiting its members, but instead seems to be competing against its members and nickel and diming every agent.
- Want to put multiple photos on your listings? Gotta pay extra.
- Want to put a virtual tour link on your listings? Get out your check book.
- Want the lead to come directly to you? Again, hope you've got cash.
If you put your listings in the MLS, then they are on Realtor.com - so the choice does not start here. Just outlining a few points that may help get your thoughts churning on this.
Then the playing field was leveled a little with IDX. And now you too can display listings of other companies participating in your MLS on your web site. (Note - in some markets only the broker can do this in others agents and brokers). Some MLS's started their own public facing sites where they send inquiries back to the agent.
And the List Grows - Then the list of other sites wanting to display real estate data for consumers grows and grows and grows. It starts to get complicated to some and others see it as a great opportunity. I see a couple categories of these sites.
- There is the group that links the listing information back to the broker site - (real estate search engines). Listing searches on google base and Trulia are examples of this. Right now it is free to include your listings in these searches.
- Then you have what I call the Realtor.com wanna be's... (I'm hesitant to list any by name using the "wanna be" label - but I'm sure you get the idea.) These are the sites that want to have all the data and then charge ‘enhancement' fees for you to add photos or actually get the lead etc.
- There are tons of debates on zillow.
- You also have all your local newspapers wanting a piece of the action.
- And there are the online classified ads...
- There are so many sites out there. It would be difficult to hit them all in this list and in advertising.
Syndicating is generally free and pretty easy. (Here's one guide.) There are other ways of doing this. Most of the sites allow you to submit listings directly to them and there are other services that will do it for you.
Here's a few sides of the debate that I most often see....
- One side of the group says "We are setting up a system which may not cost us anything right now, but once they become the source for info then who knows what they'll start charging. And by that time you would have to pay the fees and participate." As evidenced with Trulia changing its tune and asking some for money to keep listings on the site. Why is all this syndication free? How do the sites make money? Off advertising alone or will they come back and get you to pay once you set them up for success?
- The other side says, "By syndicating my listings, I am advertising the listing by every means possible and doing what I can to get it sold. It is helping me sell it faster."
- There are also groups somewhere in the middle.... Usually syndicating to some places or not based on the current size and reach of the site. For example - maybe not helping to grow the little site, but once they get big then jumping on with listings on that site. Or syndicating to the sites as long as they stay free.
I'm curious where do you fall in the debate? Can you swing someone over to your side and which side it that? Do you have a compelling point in a blog you've written or thoughts that you would include in the comments here? If you are an individual agent with a few listings would your perspective be different if you were deciding for the whole MLS versus just yourself?