The Future of Listing Syndication is Now

We have all heard stories and read the various articles regarding listing syndication – both good and bad.  After hearing those stories it’s easy to see how brokers can sometimes be left wondering what listing data gets displayed and by whom, how it is being displayed, and what they get in return for sending that all important listing data to public websites.

Make no mistake; the “Big 3” of REALTOR.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com are fighting for the hearts and minds of consumers, brokers, and/or agents everywhere.  So, it makes sense to require these and other public websites to adhere to display standards of how data should be displayed that is most advantageous to the broker’s business.  The brokers do own the data, after all.  Sounds simple, right?

It’s not.

All public real estate websites have to make money, we all understand that.  It’s not a bad thing.  However, should a broker be providing what is basically the source of a public portal’s revenue (the listing data) for free just so the portal can make a profit and throw a lead their way every so often?  RealTracs does not think so, and it’s a safe bet that most brokers don’t either.

This was the catalyst for changes made in September 2014 of how data was sent to public portals, whether it was received directly from the MLS as is the case of REALTOR.com, or via a syndication company such as Zillow from ListHub .  This is the reason photos were reduced from twenty to four.  This was the reason we added a data field to redirect an online shopper to the brokerage website.

This was the reason RealTracs took action.

The concept is simple.  Require public portals (e.g. REALTOR.com, Zillow, and Trulia), and the syndication companies that send those portals listing data on the broker’s behalf (ListHub et al.), to display only the information needed to give the consumer a good experience on the public website, while “leaving some meat on the bone”.  In other words, don’t display all of the data on a public website.  Display enough so the consumer will want to visit the broker’s website for more information.  Remember, your potential client should come to the local professional, not to the highest ZIP code bidder.

This redirect to the broker website is made possible by redirect URLs, or links, that are now a part of all public website data feeds.  If RealTracs has been provided the information from the broker or the broker’s website adviser, then the link is in the data feed.  If RealTracs has not been sent the information, or if the broker does not have an active website, the listing will link back to the details page of that particular listing on RealTracs.com.  To date, almost 80% of listings have a redirect URL attached to them.

To see an example from Homefinder.com of what a quality online listing with ample information and a broker redirect URL looks like, click the image below.

2014-12-09_1554

As is evident in the above mentioned screenshot, the experience for the consumer is neither diminished nor degraded.  It’s concise and directed to the listing brokerage. This is a step in the direction of brokers maintaining control of their own intellectual property, without being forced to hand over the keys to the castle.  It’s about giving the power back to the brokers.  It’s about brokers not being charged for leads to their own listings.

It’s way overdue.

It’s why the future of listing syndication is now.