The real estate news of the week is that Move and NAR have formally amended their operating agreement. I’m sure there are more details to be released pertaining to the dissemination, syndication and distribution of listings and properties submitted to R.com (Move, Inc.). Let the story unfold.
This article started as a comment here. It’s my list of random thoughts and observations about what could happen once we start giving a feed to third party aggregators.
I am still just one small voice of NAR, but I wonder how many agents feel the same way I do. Maybe I am a lone voice! I would hope not.
Soon, Realtors will not have the ability to decide the best marketing for their clients. As soon as you click submit on your local board website, your listing will be sent to R.com, who in turn will submit it to every syndication site they have an agreement with. What if you don’t want your listing on a particular site?
Too bad! Think Craigslist!
- In and of itself, Craigslist is not a bad site. I don’t know about you, but I receive at least 10-15 calls a month from someone who saw a home for rent there, listed by a scammer who wants them to send money to Africa or New York and then they will receive the keys. Now these type of scam listings are showing up on other sites. Syndication? Scrapers?
- If we know that almost 97% of listings are sold through the use of the MLS and another local broker, why do we care if our listings are on all these other sites. If we do a good job representing our clients property on a local level, do we need third party aggregators? I don’t think so. We need Brokers who know how to make their sites rank for their company and agents.
- As soon as all the third party aggregators have a complete list of all listings in the MLS, with a direct feed, how much do you think they will charge for you to be the *featured agent*? How much will Move (Realtor.com) charge now for the pleasure of having a showcased listing? Will these sites (with the exception of R.com)begin to charge for leads? How much are you willing to pay? 25%, 30%, 40%?
- Do you think these sites care about the accuracy of the data? They want the data, so they can be the source of the information, and then charge more to advertise there. And now, we want to give them accurate data, so they can do with it what they will. Be sure to read their terms of service.
- On any of these sites, you can and a link for similar properties. I once took a listing off a site, because the properties they suggested as similar were in no way similar. The similar properties made my property seemed overpriced. I know many homes are overpriced, but this one wasn’t. Even with a data feed, some details will not be accurate and will they have the freedom to add more data to the page.
These were my initial thoughts, but maybe it will be as others think and the third party aggregators will pay R.com for the feed and not charge agents. Somehow, I think they will want to monetize the data.
A few observations and conversations from the trenches:
- A few weeks ago I asked an agent who advertises on a few of these sites if she has seen a return on her investment. She said no, but she does it because her clients expect it. Two years ago, our clients didn’t know about Trulia and Zillow, but thanks to all those free widgets agents adorn their sites with, we have given them the power to be known. Same thing for R.com or any other site with a widget. I wonder what would happen if every agent across America took those free widgets off their sites? Would it diminish their rankings? Just a thought!
- My son called me a few nights ago and wanted some info about buying a home in Chino Hills in California. I went searching Google online and the top five results did not include an agent or a broker. They were third party aggregators who charge for premium listing status or leads. I was shocked!
- I checked a local competitor’s site who advertises the Zillow mortgage widget. In the source code, I see no less than five links back to the site. It’s really long code, so it could be more.
- Remember when all these sites were FREE?! In a conversation with someone who was creating a widget for agents, his comment was agents are stupid and will take anything that is FREE! He knew every widget displayed was a link back to him. Sadly, it worked and he will outrank his competitors.
Consider this- every widget on your site takes visitors OFF your site where they can and a link to your competitor. If should provide our site visitors the information we so freely give everywhere else and keep them on our site.
Until now, the data on most of these sites is inaccurate. They don’t update unless the agent goes in and updates. The game is about to change if they receive a direct feed from R.com.
Our local boards can stop this madness, if they disallow automatic syndication. My local board gives us the option to prohibit auto valuations. We can even prohibit the address from being displayed online, if we choose.
Every broker should figure this out:
A mentor once told me “use these companies for what they can do for you without giving them power to dominate you.” Every broker and/or agent should figure out how to do exactly that.
We work too hard to give away our content and knowledge for the benefit of a company who has no interest in whether or not we are successful. Will we shoot ourselves in the foot trying to be everywhere and if so, at what cost?
I am willing to admit I am wrong and no one really cares about paying outside companies for listings we provide. To me, there is really something wrong with that picture. It increases our costs and therefore, our clients.
Someday, someone will say, “what’s a Realtor?”