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Will new policy heat the IDX arms race back up?

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Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is the transfer of MLS data from the Board of Realtors to websites. There is a long, sordid history of how the IDX feeds came to be and are used today including the 2009 battle between a Realtor, MIBOR and ultimately the National Association of Realtors (NAR) (the back story starts here, is followed up here, ultimately ends here).

If you’re new to the space, there’s a lot of history catch up on, but we’ll simply fast forward to last week wherein agents with IDX feeds going to their sites and being indexed by Google were in the SEO position to outrank many of their competitors, even the big boys Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com for local listing search results.

That was last week. Welcome to this week, post NAR’s Annual Convention wherein the Directors voted to “expand NAR’s IDX policy to allow MLS participants to provide IDX data to real estate franchise organizations to index and display on their websites.”

According to the NAR, “The amendment comes with conditions, such as the need to promptly correct inaccurate or incomplete information and a prohibition on advertising on pages displaying the IDX information.”

Breaking it down in layman’s terms:

Justin LaJoie, CEO of Diverse Solutions (DS) said, “The expanded policy by NAR is going to start leveling the playing field for those that are using MLS data for SEO reasons. What this will do is allow the larger and national franchise websites to begin to compete in the search engines in their franchisees local markets. Once they are able to do that effectively then they will be able to compete with the likes of Realtor.com on a national level. Previously it was up the local franchisee to create a SEO strategy leveraging the local MLS listings which few of them did well. With this change they are going to get the power of the large franchise helping them in their local market.”

All that said, to me, the punchline to this whole update is who this ruling benefits. LaJoie continued, “This is good for the local franchise but potentially not so good for the local tech savvy agent who now has to compete with the franchise website for potential clients.”

So, the agents that are small potatoes that are fighting on the ground and living closing to closing without the benefit of getting the piece of everyone else’s pie are now competed against even by their big box broker who will most certainly use their ability to compete as a selling point (and some agents will fall for it), but the truth is that again, the individual agent has just been kicked in the teeth. In other words, the IDX arms race is on and agents have to compete for SEO position with any techie who decides to open up a real estate search site and now with their very own brokers.

AG is not affiliated with NAR or MIBOR; DS is an AG advertiser.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has 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.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Bob Wilson

    November 10, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    This is a non issue.

    • Rick Steiner GRI

      November 10, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      A non issue sanctioned by NAR…

      Gee, how surprising that NAR makes a ruling that favors big brokers. Why does membership think NAR is working in *their* interests rather than for the biggest brokers and the biggest brokers alone?

  2. Teresa boardman

    November 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    The listings are already on 2 zillion sites and they will become a far less important way to get traffic to a web site as they continue to become more generic. Not a problem there is far more to offer consumers than listings. Anyone can do that.

  3. Steve Nicewarner

    November 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    “agents have to compete for SEO position with any techie who decides to open up a real estate search site and now with their very own brokers.”

    Which makes the next question “Why should I work with a franchise at all if they are going to take part of my commission and use my own listings to compete with me?” This looks like a win for the national francises on the surface, but it might be another thing standing in the way of them retaining the superstars.

  4. Jim Duncan

    November 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Whatever.

    “… but the truth is that again, the individual agent has just been kicked in the teeth.”

    Not really. The individual agent who was depending on IDX SEO to significantly boost his rankings has been kicked in the teeth.

    This has been coming for a long time now; there was a very small window there that allowed individual agents to temporarily boost their rankings.

    I’m no SEO guy, but I suspect that Google will figure out that the same listings are *everywhere* and will devalue/derank their importance.

    This is yet another instance of the franchises/big boxes following rather than leading.

    • Benn Rosales

      November 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      I agree with your last line entirely. Coming for a long time? Yep, the ship is turning, and it’s full steam ahead, and never mind who or what it runs over. 🙂

  5. Carol Cei

    November 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    The individual agents can never compete with the major franchise sites, trulia, zillow, etc. Never really could. I don’t think this will change things very much in the end.

  6. Rail Life

    November 11, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I have a feeling that content is still King. Just because someone at a large firm throws up a data feed on a piece of crap template site, I doubt they will be out ranking guys that work hard on said content…

  7. Teresa boardman

    November 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Jim – you said it better than I did. 🙂

  8. Brian Wilson

    November 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

    AgentGenius is really taking the leadership role in the recent industry changes of listings policies. This analysis and this one: agentgenius.com/real-estate-news-events/zillow-dupes-realtors-investors-and-consumers-with-flawed-claims/ get to the heart of the issues. I just want say “job well done.”

  9. Rob McCance

    November 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I agree with Bob Wilson, though he didn’t give us much to work with.

    I agree because SERP rankings for IDX data is not where it’s at anyway. Who really cares if you can rank for a specific property address.

    A specific address might, but probably won’t, be searched once, if ever.

    On the other hand, a top local real estate related keyword will be searched hundreds of thousands of times a month and the searchers are real buyers. Terms like [atlanta real estate] [alpharetta homes for sale] etc., etc.

    Being crawled for IDX data (basically addresses) hardly helps you rank for these local keywords, if at all.

    And finally, smaller, more focused, nimble sites should be able to outrank large sites, or sites that are just lists of IDX data, for these local high-volume KWs.

    And there’s NO way these sites can outrank more focused sites for lower volume, but more specific local terms, like neighborhoods.

    So, non issue.

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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.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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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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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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