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Knoxville Area Association of Realtors stops syndicating real estate listings

After seeing brokers pulling their listing data from individual aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, a Tennessee trade group has followed suit, but there is no consensus as to whether this is a positive or negative event.

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KAAR Board of Directors makes a big decision

In an email provided to AGBeat by a Knoxville Area Association of Realtors (KAAR) member, the Association announced the following:

“At last week’s Board of Directors meeting, upon a recommendation from the MLS Committee, the Directors approved to stop syndicating all MLS listings to Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads and Yahoo Real Estate. This action was taken because of numerous complaints from agents and sellers regarding inaccurate listing information on the sites.”

Real estate listing syndication has long been a contentious industry issue, but as more boots on the ground have learned the full implications of data and data accuracy, the last year has proven to be especially heated and controversial. Companies as small as two agents all the way up to mega franchises have been making decisions about whether or not to syndicate, and reasons for pulling listings have begun to vary this year, led by Edina Realty, one of the first to publicly pull the plug, and others like Prudential Kansas City, ARG, and others have made similar decisions, with some pulling all syndication, and others picking and choosing winners between the aggregators.

Until now, however, Associations have mostly left the decisions up to individual brokers, but with KAAR’s decision, we will likely see a handful of others following suit – monkey see, monkey do, after all.

The move has seen praise, but has also generated many questions from industry insiders. Russ Bergeron, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) asked in the AG Facebook group, “Does this mean that prior to this all listings were being sent from the MLS to these sites regardless of the brokers wishes? Or does this just mean that the MLS will no longer facilitate the shipping of listings at their brokers’ requests? Is the MLS still sending listings to ListHub and/or Point2 and allowing brokers to make their own decisions as to where their listings should go via those distributors? Is KAAR instituting a rule that brokers can no longer display their listings on any of these sites? What about other sites like Homes.com, realtor.com, AOL, msn, Homefinder, et al?”

Is this a means to block syndication? It doesn’t appear so…

Celeste Starchild, VP of Sales and Marketing at ListHub said in the group, “ListHub continues to be available to all Knoxville brokers. In the past, this MLS syndicated to several sites automatically by default. Now, listings will only be syndicated if the broker creates a ListHub account and makes these choices proactively. For those Knoxville brokers who already created a ListHub account, settings will remain intact and syndication will continue according to the ListHub account.”

John Whitney, President of Industry Relations at ListHub added, “The MLS decided to not make choices on behalf of their brokers. But, everyone still supports broker choice… that MLS sourced data is the most accurate. We don’t want to create an environment that depends on listings from other sources. The best thing we can do is give brokers a wide variety of options, tools to make informed choices, a single platform to manage their online marketing activities, and deliver quality data to those sites to create the best consumer experience possible.”

Industry opinion on syndication pulling

Past KAAR President and current member, Jim Lee made a keen observation, noting that “If not every broker in KAAR chooses to go the Listhub route then Trulia, Zillow, Hotpads, and Yahoo Real Estate won’t be able to say they have ALL the listings for sale in the KAAR MLS.”

Arizona Realtor, Jonathan Dalton said, “Bold prediction… pulling listings from Zillow and Trulia will have exactly ZERO impact on the Knoxville real estate market. Sales will take place at the same pace, for the same prices and in the same amount of time post-syndication as they have pre-syndication.”

Elsewhere, Dalton wrote, “from the way it reads, the association didn’t pull the plug on syndication because it believes in broker choice. To say a decision on the MLS level is insignificant is short-sighted.”

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. JonathanDalton

    September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Here’s my extended train of thought … Zillow has gotten where it has largely on the back of public relations. The data’s mediocre, the Zestimates are wildly inaccurate and finding a real home for sale is like bobbing for apples. Yet it continues to be quoted in the MSM because it puts itself (and Spencer) out there for anyone with a microphone.Having an MLS pull out, even if the brokers still can syndicate, makes for poor public relations – “if it’s such a wonderful place to sell homes, why would any MLS not support it?” Remember, no one cares about the details else Z wouldn’t be where it was.  

  2. Ozarksagent

    September 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Some MLS’ syndicate to Point2Homes and they provide Trulia, Zillow and dozens of other sites with listings so what is to be gained by not making sure they all just get correct info instead of second-hand info that creates the problems they are upset about?

  3. Rob McCance

    September 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve long said that this data is created by and belongs to the Agents that populated it….for our own use.
     
    And our own use includes using it as bait in search engines on our sites to generate leads for OURSELVES.
     
    Why anyone would just give this data to companies like this in the first place is beyond me…
     
    Rob in Atlanta
    http://www.atlantarealestateinfo.com/
     
     

  4. J Philip Faranda

    September 25, 2012 at 8:16 am

    So now agents must opt in via Listhub instead of having the feed sent automatically. This is not that earth-shattering.  

  5. joemspake

    September 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    It sounds to me like this is just a transition from broker opt-out (from a comprehensive feed to List Hub) to opt-in.  Seems to be a healthy choice for  all boards and MLSs to have a look at.

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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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Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

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?

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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

RIP office culture: How work from home is destroying the economy

(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.

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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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