Posts Tagged as Listing Syndication

Listing Syndication a Necessary Evil – What to Do and Where to Post

With all the buzz following Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia recently, you may find yourself even less a fan of listing syndication. It can be an essential tool for your marketing efforts, however, provided you learn to handle the good with the bad in using this necessary evil to satisfy sellers and generate leads.

We understand why you may want to stay away…
Accuracy issues, competing brokers and agents with prominent displays in ads associated with your listing. These third party portals are just not the same as industry sites.

However listing syndication is an essential tool for your success.
Eighty eight percent of real estate professionals syndicate to at least one portal despite its “necessary evil” status. The reasons for listing to these portals vary. Among the reasons real estate pros – and you – should be using listing syndication include:

  • Satisfying sellers who wish– and expect – to see their home listed on familiar/popular sites.
  • Taking advantage of a cost-free opportunity to market listings to a wide audience.
  • Generating leads – and most importantly, buyers.

Factors to consider when choosing your listing site:

  • Timeliness and accuracy.
  • Prominent display of your brokerage’s and listing agent’s contact information.
  • The ability to link back to your website from listings.

Which are the best portals to use?
Popular portals include…

  • Realtor.com
    Friendly, good exposure, and favored by the industry thanks to the National Association of Realtors presence in its brand name.
  • Listings Unlimited
    In addition to being a one-stop-shop for the creation and marketing of single property listings, Listings Unlimited offers built-in listing syndication allowing you to choose the portals to which you’d like to automatically feed your listings.
  • Zillow & Trulia
    Two popular portals for consumers searching for real estate information.
  • Homes.com
    A no-frills site for listing single family homes and condos.

Want results? Put listing syndication on your to-do list today. Learn more.

The Zillow-Trulia Merger & Your Real Estate Business

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will a Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will the Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

On July 28th, Zillow announced via a press release that “it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trulia, Inc. … in a stock-for-stock transaction. The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015.”

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, stated: “Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals. Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web. This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry.”

Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO, then commented: “Trulia and Zillow have a shared mission and vision of empowering consumers while helping real estate agents, brokerages and franchisors benefit from technological innovation. By working together, we will be able to create even more value for home buyers, sellers, and renters, as well as create a robust marketing platform that will help our industry partners connect with potential clients and grow their businesses even more efficiently. Our two companies share complementary employee cultures with innovative, consumer-first philosophies and a deep commitment to create the best products and services for our industry partners.”

By the (self-reported) numbers:
• Zillow reported a record 83 million unique users across mobile and Web in June 2014.
• Trulia reported a record 54 million monthly unique users across its sites and mobile apps in June 2014.
• Approximately half of Trulia.com’s monthly visitors do not visit Zillow.com
• Approximately two-thirds of Zillow.com’s monthly visitors across all devices do not use Trulia.com.
• “Maintaining the two distinct consumer brands will allow the combined company to continue to offer differentiated products and user experiences, attract more users and maximize the distribution of free content across multiple platforms, apps and channels.”

The Zillow-Trulia merger might not create the “pricing power” juggernaut that many people fear. We’ve been reading comments by agents and brokers all over the web, and the fact is that many MLS boards and independent agents are starting to pull their listings – they simply don’t want to have to pay to advertise next to their own listings. There are also frequent rumblings about the data and Zestimates on Zillow being inaccurate.

Citron Research cites a deal struck between Realogy and Zillow/Trulia. Realogy—the world’s largest real estate agency, comprising Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, ERA, Century 21 and Better Homes—secured a lucrative deal for its agents that “prohibits all other agencies from advertising on their listings” at a cost of less than 95% what any other agency pays. What’s more, Realogy is aggressively pursuing their own online offering that will compete head-to-head with Zillow-Trulia in the consumer-focused online real estate space, with a new product expected sometime in 2015.

“We believe that there is a space in there that we can compete in. It will have features like Zillow and Trulia. It will have features that you wouldn’t put on a real estate brokerage website. An example of that would be Zestimate that Zillow uses. There are certain features that we believe we can effectively do and be able to cast a net outcome, a consumer-oriented facing website arena and be able to capture leads, reviewing [scrub then] as I described, and then put them in the hands of our sales associates so we create the business opportunity,” NRT CEO and President Bruce Zipf is quoted as saying on May 9th during a Realogy Investor Day Q&A.

Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, has been quoted as saying, “It ought to be quite clear to a listing agent or a broker that it behooves their seller to have their listing displayed on Zillow and Trulia or sites that Zillow powers.”

Indeed, Zillow powers some of the internet’s major property search engines, and together with Trulia will indeed have a massive reach. But for how long, with competitors like Realogy making such significant strides, technologically and on behalf of its agents at the bargaining table? And how long before Keller Williams, Remax, Berkshire Hathaway, or other agencies demand and negotiate the same deals Zillow-Trulia have granted Realogy?

Many real estate professionals feel a loss of power in the face of the deal, which cements a growing resentment at having to pay Zillow to advertise their listings. Online forums reveal many of these agents calling for boycotts, while still others agree there isn’t another viable option.

Inman News contributing writer Joseph Rand writes in his Op-ed “Why Zulia doesn’t mean checkmate,” that: “The bottom line is that Zillow needs listings more than listings need Zillow. Which means that Zillow needs the people (brokers and agents) who take those listings more than they need Zillow.” I’d venture that he is bang on with that assessment.

Where does your business fit in? Do you use Zillow to obtain leads? One thing I can say with certainty is that this isn’t over, and we’ll be talking about the Zillow-Trulia merger for some time to come. How do you feel about all of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts from the proverbial trenches.

New Real Estate Listing Network Challenges MLS

The launch of a new real estate listing network aimed at real estate franchises challenges the supremacy of the real estate industry’s traditional multiple listing services (MLS) and is generating a lot of discussion among U.S. Realtors. Developed by behemoth real estate syndicator ListHub, the new Real Estate Network (REN) will expand property listing syndication to the websites of the nation’s biggest real estate franchises. Owned by Move, Inc., ListHub is offering participation in its new Real Estate Network to real estate brokers and multiple listing services as a free and voluntary online real estate tool. RE/MAX, Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Realty Executives International were the first to jump on the bandwagon.

The launch of Real Estate Network will allow the 43,000 real estate brokerage firms, 376 multiple listing services and numerous real estate franchises that currently participate in ListHub to expand their real estate marketing reach by choosing to send their property listings to one or more network members. Members of the new network retain the right to pick and choose the network members with whom they will share property listings and may refuse to share listings with select network members at their discretion.

In the Real Estate Network launch announcement on PR Newswire, Move CEO Steve Berkowitz called the new network “an industry-friendly initiative” that “maximizes and ensures broker control” over the promotion of real estate listings. While Real Estate Network rules are similar to the Internet Date Exchange (IDX) listing parameters imposed by multiple listing services, the game-changing difference is that Real Estate Network mandates a uniform nationwide listing standard.

Several aspects of the new network are generating talk in the real estate community. The possible demise of multiple listing services seems to be the greatest potential impact the new network might have on the real estate industry. Some industry watchers are also predicting that online realty lister Zillow will suffer from competition with a new, broad-scale listing network. The biggest winners may be smaller real estate firms that stand to benefit from free access to real estate tools developed by their bigger brethren.

Is Syndication Making the Agent & Broker Less Relevant?

As the debate about whether brokers should or should not syndicate their listings rages on, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh the Pros and Cons.

I read a nice post today by Brad Blumberg from SmarterAgent.com and thought I’d throw my 2 cents in… As the debate about whether brokers should or should not syndicate their listings rages on, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh the Pros and Cons.

For the Consumer:

Pros:

  • Have more ways to search for properties online (how many ways do we really need to access the same information?).
  • Prospects do not need to contact a broker or agent to view the available homes.
  • Prospects don’t need to login or register with a local Broker to view MLS data.

 

Cons:

  • Data is not always accurate or up to date.
  • Property Value sites are not very accurate giving misleading information to consumers.

A few of the above mentioned “Pros” might sound like “Cons” if you are an agent or broker …

For the Brokers and Agents:

Pros:

  • Listing gets more exposure (But this information is the same in the MLS so if you are a buyer, wouldn’t you get the same information from your local agent?).

 

Cons:

  • Brokers have less control over where their listings appear and the accuracy of the information provided.
  • Buyers do not need to contact a local agent or broker to get property information.
  • Syndication sites will showcase other agents next to your listing – for a fee.
  • Local Agent and Broker sites have to compete with syndication sites AND now their own BRAND websites (see The Real Estate Network brought to you by MOVE).
  • Prospects do not need to contact a broker or agent to view the available homes.
  • Prospects don’t need to login or register with a local Broker to view MLS data.
  • If you want to get the leads that your listing generates, you will probably have to pay the syndication site a “Featured” Fee.

So what is the next step for Syndication Websites?

I wonder if sites like Zillow have considered charging a referral fee yet. Or, if they can claim they “found” the buyer, why not charge a referral fee or could they simply refer the buyer to a Zillow agent? Have the big brands or brokers considered this possibility?

Listing Syndication: a Good Idea?

Listing syndication makes a lot of sense for agents. You obviously want your listings to reach as wide an audience as possible, and placing the listing on your site and social media accounts and in the local newspaper, while definitely useful, will likely not reach a huge audience.

Benefits of Listing Syndication

Listing syndication allows you to reach a much wider audience, and spread your listing all over the Internet, including major search engines, and high-profile, high-traffic sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and of course Craigslist.

Zillow and Trulia: Supporting Agents or Potentially Undermining Them?

But while sites such as Zillow and Trulia are excellent for buyers and sellers, are they really that great for agents? We need to remember that these sites are focusing on increasing their own traffic, not necessarily on sending traffic to agent sites. Their goal is to keep visitors on their site. Which begs the question, are these sites great partners for agents – or are they a possible threat?

Recent features added to Zillow make it pretty clear that the site’s ultimate goal might be to become a real estate marketplace, independent of real estate agents, that charges a fee for transactions completed through the site. Zillow now enables homeowners to upload information about their homes, it has the “Make me an offer” feature where homeowners can get direct offers on their homes, and it has also added a Wiki where buyers and sellers can learn about the complexities of handling a real estate transaction.

Listing Syndication Still Useful

So, is listing syndication a good idea? We think it is. You should definitely syndicate to major search engines and to Craigslist. As for property website portals such as Zillow and Trulia, we believe you SHOULD take advantage of the huge traffic these sites receive. After all, you can post your listing on these sites along with your information and a link back to your agent website. But you also need to make it very clear to buyers and sellers that your knowledge and expertise are invaluable, and that going into such a huge, complex transaction without the help of an agent is extremely risky.