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Huntsville Area Association of Realtors shifts listing syndication strategy

Real estate listing syndication continues to be a topic of debate in the industry as associations and brokers consider their strategy going forward.

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haar namls

Real estate listing syndication

As the real estate industry feels their way through the changing tides of Realtor sentiment toward third party syndication, brokers and real estate associations alike are making choices as to how they distribute real estate listings.

Recently, the Austin Board of Realtors cut the cord for direct syndication to ListHub, sparking another wave of industry discussion surrounding syndication.

Huntville Area Association of Realtors’ changes

But Austin isn’t alone. The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors reached out to us, expressing their process of changing their strategy as well.

Rhonda Ricketts, MLS Director at the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors (HAAR) explained that in February of this year, they formed a task force to examine the pros and cons of syndication, exploring what would be in the best interest of their association as a whole.

“After webinars and interviews with large brokerages that had already stepped away from syndication, a recommendation was presented to our Board of Directors (which was unanimously approved) to cease syndication through ListHub and to offer ‘MLS Direct Syndication.’ This occurred in June 2013 and ListHub was given a 90 day notice of our intent, which went into effect September 16th 2013.”

HAAR sending listings directly to third parties

Today, HAAR is in negotiations with the largest real estate search sites to sign their Third Party Data Access Agreement which is a combination of their existing MLS rules and several items adopted from the “Syndication Bill of Rights.”

Now, Bridge Interactive Group manages HAAR’s RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) data, which does not syndicate, rather allows Participants and Subscribers are able to opt in or opt out of a third party site, down to an agent level. Ricketts notes that when they identify misuse of data, they can immediately turn off the data until the site becomes compliant.

Kipp Cooper, CEO at HAAR and the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service acknowledges that some people support syndication, others oppose it, so their organization feels they have a fair middle ground. Cooper said, “In the early part of 2013 we formed a broad taskforce of agents and brokers from over 14 different firms and identified all of the various options. Finding none that suited our needs, we built the new model of MLS Direct Syndication™ with the help of our partner Bridge Interactive Group.”

“When we peeled away the issues of data security, stale data, and the inappropriate use of our data, we found that our data feed to ListHub was the conduit through which many of these undesirable results were made possible,” Cooper said.

While this is HAAR’s contention, we would assert that ListHub isn’t the bad guy here, as they’ve gone out of their way to add scorecards to every listing syndicator and encouraged brokers at every step to remain educated on the final destinations they offer for listing data, but either way, some final destinations remain questionable, regardless of the vehicle used to syndicate.

The HAAR rules third party aggregates must follow

Cooper outlines specific rules that their third party agreement, “Third party advertisers must prominently display the listing agent and firm on their site at no cost and add a link-back to the brokers listing on our member owned public facing site valleymls.com. They are also prohibited from re-syndicating our data beyond their controlled network, must refresh data every 48 hours (most pull data several times daily), follow our data trumping rules and must respond to MLS and/or Broker issues or corrections within 24 hours.”

In September, they announced Trulia as their first partner, followed immediately by Homes.com, adding more partners daily. Cooper says they will soon roll out a broker dashboard to provide analytics regarding where their listings are being viewed.

“So the bottom line is our members are very pleased with the changes we have made. As an association and regional MLS we are leading the way in in both protecting our members and their clients data and still offering a robust platform for them to syndicate their listings to reputable national sites for the maximum positive exposure of their listings.”

The shifting tides

While HAAR and North Alabama MLS have far fewer members than the Austin Board of Realtors, and their members chose alternate routes, they are both indicative of the continuing pendulum swinging in real estate.

Sources tell us that in Austin, the bigger real estate search sites are reaching out to the board to attempt a direct feed like HAAR, but Realtors have opined to us that they don’t think offering dozens of check yes/no boxes in every listing upload page changes much of anything, and that brokers being forced directly into the ListHub system or making decisions about their data on a case by case basis is best.

Neither HAAR or ABoR will influence a mass exodus from list syndication sites, but their strategies are based on membership task forces and decision, and both have stated they are not looking to influence others’ decisions, rather are doing what members feel is best for their local listing data.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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