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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.

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?”

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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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