Listing Syndication: Choosing to Participate or Not - Debate It

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Services for Real Estate Pros with Crye-Leike, Realtors

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 LaunchChallenging 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.

Real Estate Listing SyndicationAnd 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....

  1. 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?
     
  2. 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."
     
  3. 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?

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Anonymous
Kelly at Trulia

Angie, Kelly @ Trulia here. Great topic that all brokers and agents should consider carefully. We wrote on this topic last year in our search paper titled, "The Truth About Real Estate Search": http://images.trulia.com/resources/Trulia-The_Truth_About_Real_Estate_Search_White_Paper.pdf .

In it, we encourage brokers and agents to see if their marketing partner is willing to put their business model in writing. We do that and have stuck with our model since day one. In that regard, here is one clarification to your commentary on Trulia. We have and will always offer free links from Trulia to a listing broker or agent's listing.  There are options to enhance your brand and traffic through our newer paid ad features. We have always shared this with our broker partners, but did not launch the ad products until we had tested them to ensure they were delivering incremental results beyond the free traffic you already receive. Hope that helps!

Nov 06, 2007 05:23 AM #1
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger
Hi Kelly - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I took a brief look through the white paper. I think the list of questions to consider starting on page 12... is a good list - easy/quick to read - to help provoke more thought and areas of consideration.
Nov 06, 2007 07:05 AM #2
Rainer
83,973
Joanne Hanson
Coldwell Banker Colorado Rockies Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Summit County, Colorado Realtor
A good, thought provoking post Angie.  Our board is having discussions about this issue now, although they have discussed it for years already, and probably will for a few more.  I am going to park and see what everyone else has to say.
Nov 06, 2007 01:42 PM #3
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger
Hi Joanne - are you a member of the board that is involved in the discussions? Just curious on which side you are watching from.
Nov 07, 2007 03:51 AM #4
Rainer
21,775
Prudential Preferred Realty Butler PA
Prudential Preferred Realty - Butler, PA
Our MLS doesn''t allow it.  No choice from agent, broker, buyer, seller.  MLS says no advertising listings without written consent from BIC, and IDX is the only one they big guys consented to.
Nov 09, 2007 05:25 AM #5
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger
Hi Jayne - I'm not sure I understand. How can the MLS tell you how to advertise your own listings? I understand how IDX is regulated - and the display of other firms listings. However when it comes to your own listings, the MLS is not the owner of them, but the brokerage is.
Nov 10, 2007 12:14 AM #6
Ambassador
754,969
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Angie:  I went up and down your list of Groups joined.  I did it twice, and to my astonishment, you have not been invited to join the Active Rain Bronze Star Hall of Fame!  And you're 50K past the mark.  What were your subscribers thinking?

Mike in Tucson hereby formally invites Angie Vandenbergh to join the Active Rain Bronze Star Hall of Fame!

Get cracking, Angie!

Nov 10, 2007 01:10 AM #7
Rainmaker
138,450
FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:. FranklyRealty.com
Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc - Arlington, VA

I say the more the merrier.

 

Frank 

Nov 15, 2007 02:20 PM #8
Ambassador
891,651
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I'm almost of the thought that some of these aggregators and syndicators should be paying the MLSs for the listings.  They are the product that these entities use to create their sites.  At the very least, they should never be allowed to charge (let me clarify the word allowed.  If they charge, we should suck all of their listings right back out of them so fast there is a popping sounds.  Their business models crash without our product).

R.com has become a problem as well.  When the NAR ceded control of the domain, they stopped working for the membership, and started working against us.  It is another model that needs to be crashed.  I'm not at all enamored of a site that takes MY product, and then sells it back to me for my use.  They take the listings that I create, and only allow me to benefit if I pay them more money. 

Nov 18, 2007 02:17 AM #9
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger

Hi Lane, Thanks for commenting. It is true that without the listings they would have no site/product. I think part of the trouble with pulling listings out after the fact (if they change their business model) is that if the site gets really popular than to some extent some people feel forced to keep the listings there (ie sellers ask for it or all the competitors are doing it etc). It would be hard to be in the minority that ended up taking their listings out.

Nov 19, 2007 01:07 AM #10
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger
Mike in Tucson.... Sorry for the late reply. I saw your invite to the bronze hall of fame.  Thanks so much for that. I'm going to have to think about what to write....
Nov 19, 2007 01:09 AM #11
Rainer
20,554
Vangie Williams
Prime Residential - Serving Virginia - King George, VA
Real Estate with Personality

I advertise to Point2.com.  I have gotten tremendous response but does it irritate other agents with the volume of emails from new listings.  I still don't know if emails are sent when listings are updated.  

 Great post Angie.  Happy Holidays. 

Dec 15, 2007 04:07 PM #12
Ambassador
252,037
Jesse & Kathy Clifton
Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS® - Fairbanks, AK
Retired
I'm somewhere in the middle.  I like that my listings receive attention from a wider audience, but with Realtor.com wanna-be's we run the risk of ceding control of our content to someone who can change their TOS at any moment, cutting us out of the loop or charging an exorbitant fee to receive the leads.  Most of these sites already generate a ton of revenue from advertising, which they only get from having our listings.  Realtor.com, in my opinion, should be totally wiped out and a new site created from scratch.  NAR has lost sight of who they are supposed to work for.  Again, if not for our content, there would be no traffic on Realtor.com.  Make money off advertising or related non-competing services, but stop trying to stick it to agents who provide the content that make Realtor.com the site is it.  I stopped paying for enhanced site a few years ago when the yearly fee went to $1,700.  Today I know agents that pay upwards of $7,000 - $9,000, which is entirely ridiculous.
Dec 15, 2007 10:05 PM #13
Ambassador
754,969
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Angie,

I'll be looking for your post with anticipation.  I just now clicked your link to Jordan Mackey's post.  Thanks for that; I've found another blog I need to subscribe to.

Mike in Tucson

Dec 15, 2007 11:50 PM #14
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger

Vangie - I agree about point2 emails being overwhelming. They send out a lot of different types of emails. I would think there are preferences for them, but I've never looked that far into it.

Jesse & Kathy - I think your points about Realtor.com are valid. When you look at costs associated with the site for an agent, it does feel like they've lost what everyone thought the goal was.

Dec 17, 2007 03:57 AM #15
Anonymous
Chris Dowell

I use point 2 agent and love it. The new tools are great and the listing syndication is awesome. The overwhelming e-mails can be turned off and or personalized. I have tried many listing syndication tools (classifiedflyerads, reallyo, realbird, postlets, vflyer) and love point 2 agent. Here is a link to check it out! http://www.dowelltaggart.com/ForAgents.aspx

 

Jan 20, 2008 12:43 AM #16
Rainer
6,897
Gary Streisand
Post Your Listings - Stony Brook, NY

Now that it's a buyers market, listing syndication is becoming more popular. I remember when there were only three portals, Microsot, Yahoo and realtor.com.

Most of the leads are coming from Google base and craigslist.  We send to about 21 portals but pull our listings if the web site changes their business plan and doesn't link back to our brokers and agents or decides to charge.

One complaint I receive the most is that the MLS lets the idx feed be distributed and the web portal charges the agents for getting leads from their own listings.

 

I think everybody knows which 3 web sites do this. 

Mar 29, 2008 06:37 AM #17
Rainmaker
184,708
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty Beatrice Associates - Middleton, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

I admit I do syndicate.  I feel I have to for the sake of getting the listing and competing with the other listing agents to get the listing.

My frustration with syndication is two fold:

  1. Accuracy of the listing data.  I get calls from people all the time on listings I had two years ago.  Im sure it is frustrating for the buyer. 
  2. When these sites package our data and try to sell back leads that come from our data. 

 

Feb 03, 2012 01:58 AM #18
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