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Know the impact before withdrawing syndicated listing data

In the fast and changing world of property data syndication, of threats, and closed door meetings, whether to syndicate or not is ultimately a business decision that should rest solely on the shoulders of the individual broker, and not other eager, and interested parties.



A long-running debate

Years ago, a real estate battle boiled over with Realtors and brokers educated on listing syndication arguing how data should or should not be shared with third party media sites. Since then, the debate over who should have what, how it should be presented, and who should get paid, has died down – until recently.

As more brokers either lose market share or become educated on listing syndication (or both), some are considering the option of pulling their listings from third party real estate sites, or from the MLS altogether, both of which have recently been achieved by a select few high profile brokerages, with several smaller groups with few listings pulling out with barely a notice.

Although the debate is not new, it has been reignited by select groups across the nation privately debating how their data is being handled. One of the models the industry has looked to is the Milwaukee brokerage, Shorewest, who pulled their listings from syndication last fall.

Shorewest pulls listings

WAV Group Partner, Victor Lund told AGBeat, “As you can see by the graph [below] – Shorewest is the #1 website in their market, and they do not syndicate – proving that brokers and agents do not need to syndicate to drive traffic and leads on their listings. In fact, this may argue that the opposite is true – if you do not syndicate, you provide consumers with an incentive to visit your broker or agent website to find the cheeze. In this case, the cheeze is listing accuracy, comprehensive listing inventory, and most of all, the service of a real estate professional.”

This now infamous graph has spread across Association committees and brokers’ desks like wild fire as Shorewest performs well in their market without their listings being featured in every real estate search site. The inherent problem is that alternative data contradicts this very chart that could lead some brokers to make business decisions for their companies (and their agents). Without getting into the validity or invalidity of each set of data and how it is measured, it is most important to note that any business making a decision about listing syndication should look at as many data sets as possible.

An alternative view

The graph above uses Experian Hitwise data, but comparing the numbers to comScore data presents an alternative picture. Just comparing the three most common real estate search sites with Shorewest in Milwaukee, WI in January presents an interesting picture:

Of note, neither measuring service takes mobile use into account. Although Trulia and Zillow could not determine their mobile use data in Milwaukee specifically, Curt Beardsley, Vice President of Customer and Industry Development at Move, Inc. told AGBeat that alone saw roughly 24,000 unique visitors in January through their mobile app, on top of the 89,000 unique visitors measured above.

Of the 89,000 unique visitors to Move sites, the company says 83,000 visited and asserts they are not losing market share. notes that Shorewest and have a “shared audience” of 17,000 people, according to comScore, meaning that 17,000 people visited both sites.

Picking winners and losers

Part of the story that many are not picking up on is that companies like Shorewest are within their right to pick winners and losers when it comes to syndication, for example, as of publication of this article, Shorewest is still syndicating their listings to, just not to Trulia or Zillow. Pulling listings is not always a black and white proposition.

The recent IDX battle in Austin makes it clear that there remains a great deal of market confusion not only over the differences between syndication and IDX, but of what rules reign where and what moves each brokerage is making regarding their data.

Many moving pieces of this puzzle

Despite many asserting that this is only a broker issue, there are many moving pieces regarding listing syndication, and each entity has a unique stake and agenda when it comes to data syndication. Realtors, brokers, and homeowners have far different objectives than third party real estate media sites who have different goals than MLSs, listing syndicators, association executives, association committees, and much different goals than the third party advisors and consultants to each of these entities that are in the thick of the debate. Although the comScore data compared to the Hitwise data is not a game changer for some, it should illuminate to the masses that using a single source to determine that opting out of listing syndication is best. It is notable that all three major search sites rely on comScore data for direct metrics.

In light of the fragmentation of the real estate data industry, the goal of all brokers deciding how to handle their data should be to do as much research as possible, and to understand not only how data works, but to obtain a real picture of what will happen if they pull listings from syndication – in some cases, a local site like Shorewest will perform well, in others, it will be crushed by the mega real estate sites. Seeing a single chart or hearing a single consultant speak on the topic can be inspiring, but should not be the sole reason for making a business-altering decision.

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  1. Jonathan Dalton

    March 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Pretty charts, but to me the only number that matters is market share – not online market share, but hard and fast sales market share. If that hasn’t changed, clearly not being on Zillow or Trulia hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference.

    These two sites add zero value to the real estate space. End of story.

    • Kris Berg

      March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Precisely. Unique visitors, hits, eyeballs, online traffic share — these things do not have any nexus to homes sold, sale price or market time. People walking through the door with their agents do. We seem to be repeatedly confusing agent marketing opportunities with property marketing.

      • Benn Rosales

        March 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

        The only confusion I see is a fundamental ignorance in understanding pieces of a sales funnel, and what each piece intricately means to the final result you describe. Web search is inherent, and agent marketing via search sites may or may not be a viable means of obtaining a consumer – this article simply says as a broker, you’d better know before you pull your plug.

        The article is about broker choice, not public pressure, or the push from the crowd from a cliff. 90k uniques is a ton of uniques to a market, and that’s just Milwaukee focused.

        I found it insanely interesting that purports 17k uniques between themselves and shorewest website, it tells me there is a connection/delivery from point a to point b.

  2. Ted

    March 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    One of my listings was hurt by an online 3rd party value. That value was $65k below our list. It was off by a mile. Many buyers find a property and then check the value via those sites – if that value is wrong, the seller is hurt and the buyer is given an improper expectation.

    What I find ridiculous and amusing is the agents who mis-represent this story. A property these days does not need to be syndicated up the Wazzoo to be found. Otherwise the search term “”insert the name of your city here” real estate or homes for sale” would not be the highest cost adsense real estate search term at google 😉 Consumer’s will find the properties – piece of cake. I watch techno-tards do it everyday.

    Most buyers I deal with are frustrated by the inaccuracy’s of the 3rd party real estate sites, because those sites have inventory that is stale. Buyers typically give me the addresses and I call back explaining those properties have either sold or are under contract. Additionally some of the 3rd party sites list the defaulted properties from the public records as for sale at the price of the default amount and buyers think they can buy those properties for 10 cents on the dollar.

    Syndication just for syndication sake is a goofy argument. What has been going on for the last several years is a mess and part of it is the fault of the MLSs and part is the fault of the 3rd party vendors. Listings are a private employment contract between seller and broker, the MLS is a private agreement between brokers to share listing inventories and cooperate on compensation – there is no public right to this data. The 3rd party vendors are lucky that the brokers were not smart enough to offer a robust platform before the 3rd parties beat them to the punch.

    The buyers are getting the shaft right now. No I am not a fan of single agent dual agency – outlaw it and I would be fine. But I would not mind if I could get a chance to tell a buyer about property features that may not be available via IDX or 3rd party sites – that is something that the buyer’s agent will not be able to do without talking to me or visting the property.

    I have yet to see data that shows that homes sell faster and for more money because they are syndicated up the Wazoo. What selles a house is Price, Condition and Location. Get those right and the properties sell.

    You can market the #$%^ out of an over priced listing – syndicated it up the Wazoo, Fly the Goodyear Blimp over your overpriced listing with an advertisement and it still wont sell. Funny how when homes are priced right their DOM is very very short.

  3. Ivan Ronskonski

    May 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Come on – your buyers get information from you (via MLS) on every matching listing before they hit any of the web sites. So when selling those sites do nothing to find real buyers. Unqualified lookers early in the process, sure. But all you need to sell the house is price, condition, and accurate MLS entry.

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Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.



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So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?



Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s not just your empty office left behind: Work from home is drastically changing cities’ economies in more ways than you think.



An empty meeting room, unfilled by work from home employees.

It’s been almost six months since the U.S. went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s subsequent safety guidelines were issued – it’s safe to say that it is not business as usual. Everyone from restaurant waitstaff to start-up executives have been affected by the shift to work-from-home. Even as restrictions slowly begin to lift, it seems as though the office workspace – regarded as the vital venue for the U.S. economy – will never truly be the same.

Though economists have been focusing largely on small businesses and start-ups, we are only just beginning to understand the impact that not going back into the white-collar office will have on the economy.

The industries that support white-collar office culture in major cities have become increasingly emaciated. The coffee shops, food trucks, and food delivery companies that catered to the white-collar workforce before, during, and after their workday, are no longer in high demand (Starbucks reported a loss of $2 billion this year, which they attribute to Zoomification). Airlines have also been affected as business travel typically accounts for 60%-70% of all air travel.

Also included are high-end hotels, which accommodate the traveling business class. Pharmacies, florists, and gyms located in business districts have become ghost towns. Office supplies companies, such as Xerox, have suffered. Workwear brands such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy, as there is no longer a need to dress for the office.

In Manhattan – arguably the country’s most notorious white-collar business mecca – at least 1,200 restaurants have been permanently lost. It is also is predicted that the one-third of all small businesses will close.

Additionally, the borough is facing twice as many apartment vacancies as this time last year, due to the flight of workers no longer tied to midtown offices. Workers have realized their freedom to seek more affordable and spacious residence outside the city. As companies decentralize from cities and rent prices drop, it isn’t all bad news. There is promise that particular urban white-collar neighborhoods will start to become accessible to the working class once again.

Some companies, like Pinterest and REI, are reporting that their shift to work from home is in fact permanent. The long-term effects of deserted office buildings are yet to make themselves evident. What we do know is that the decline of the white-collar office will force us to reimagine the great American cities – with so much lost due to the coronavirus, what can now be gained?

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