On ARG's Announcement to Pull Their Listings from Syndication

By
Real Estate Broker Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY
http://actvra.in/s2C

Victorian HomeInman news is reporting a Youtube announcement from ARG (Abbott Realty Group) that they are not  permitting their listings to be viewed on 3rd party syndicators such as Zillow, Trulia and even Realtor.com. The link is already behind Inman's paywall so I have embedded the video below. This comes in the wake of a similar announcement from midwest Giant Edina Realty's decision to do the very same thing this past November. Jim Abbott, broker and president of ARG, gives what I consider a very well reasoned explanation for his company's decision. You may not agree, but his explanation is compelling. 

As much as I'd like to be the enlightened, philosophical, transparency embracing dude I strive to be, the small business owner in me is quietly applauding Mr Abbott's guts. Here's why: You might expect on Zillow or Trulia that if you click on the smiling face next to the advert for more information that you'll be put in touch with the listing agent, but you would be wrong much of the time. I spend 5 figures annually to keep myself as the contact on my listings on these sites, because they are in the business to sell zip codes to agents posting themselves as the local experts. In other words, that smiling face might be some guy who never saw the house in his life but wrote a check to be the contact for the zip code. Any  consumer who has ever made inquiries on Zillow and Trulia knows this.

Some listing agents view this as extortion, because they provide the websites the content, but then have to pay for the privelege of being the recipient of the consumer inquiry on their own listing. 

The argument for syndication (and the natural rebuttal to Mr Abbott) has always been the same thing: exposure. When a broker is hired to market a property, it is our fiduciary duty to maximize exposure of the home, and these websites get mammoth traffic. It is also a matter of raw competition: "I'll put your listing on Zillow and Trulia" is the 2012 version of "I'll buy an ad in the supermarket homes magazine," which was the better mousetrap when I was first licensed in 1996. Here's the problem with that: The data is often inaccurate and not up to date, and I'm not so sure we are doing our clients any favors when we allow inquiries on their homes to go to some guy at another firm who never set foot in their living room. "Hire me and I'll make sure the guy who bought the zip code gets the calls" doesn't sound too compelling to me.

This is where the syndicators play both ends against the middle: they sell their high traffic and exposure, then have a highly caffeineted sales team contact agents and promise them buyer leads if they pay $XX a month. This puts the agent next to anyone's listings in that zip code who haven't paid themselves. I virtually pay an annuity every month to box out Joe Meatball from getting the calls on my listings, and I get a perk for being the contact guy on Bertha Hairnet's listings. Fair? Hardly, it is the cost of doing business.  

When a home is multiple listed, it goes to literally hundreds of websites automatically thanks to the IDX (Internet Data Exchange) feed to search sites of cooperating brokerages, association searches (Like MLSLI.com on Long Island) and national aggregators. The IDX feed is the real time data from MLS. If the information is wrong, it is the fault of the broker, so they have to be on their toes. The trend appears to be that the providers of the content, the listing brokers, are taking back control of their data to ensure accuracy and certainty that they field the consumer inquiries. This takes the property off some popular websites, but if more firms do this those websites may also lose their popularity. That could make them re-think some of their policies. 

ARG -and Edina- have made  their counterpunch. ARG, with about 25 agents and 41 listing on their website is about the same size as my firm. This took some thought and backbone. 

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Re-Bloggged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Kamal Salim 01/28/2012 09:41 AM
  2. Gregory Bain 01/28/2012 11:00 AM
  3. Laurie Clark CRB Angel Realty LLC Your Monument Realtor 719-502-6572 01/29/2012 12:26 AM
  4. Corinne Guest 01/29/2012 01:00 PM
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Topic:
Home Selling
Groups:
BananaTude
Bartender, Make it a Double
Independent Brokerages
Running a Brokerage
"Whacked"!!!
Tags:
arg
edina
syndication
realtorcom
trulia
zillow
kerfuffle

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Rainer
45,434
Jill Kipnis
Move, Inc.

Hi Maureen, nice to meet you. I'm absolutely a fan of Realtor.com, and a proud employee as well. To add to my comment above, if a listing broker doesn't want to participate in the Realtor.com Connections program, they can opt out in minutes through your control panel.

January 31, 2012 04:29 PM
Rainmaker
1,385,700
Maureen McCabe
Columbus Ohio Real Estate
HER Realtors

Now she puts Move in her signature.  When Dustin Luther worked for Move   he was not secretive about who he worked for. 

 

January 31, 2012 05:11 PM
Ambassador
730,713
Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

Hey J - sorry for the delay getting here to respond.

I just wanted to point out that Spencer wrote a great post on ActiveRain discussing the importance of Strategic Distribution that addressed some really important points and issues surrounding this topic. 

Hope you don't mind me sharing it here since it's relative and not just spam.
http://activerain.com/blogsview/2697254/the-importance-of-strategic-distribution

There are a couple things I'd like to clarify:

1. "This is where the syndicators play both ends against the middle: they sell their high traffic and exposure, then have a highly caffeineted sales team contact agents and promise them buyer leads if they pay $XX a month. This puts the agent next to anyone's listings in that zip code who haven't paid themselves."

I can't speak for the other companies but at Zillow, exposure for listings is free for the listing agent. For premier placement, a listing agent just needs to fill out a free profile. Once a listing agent does create a free profile on Zillow, it takes the number of times the listing agent is referenced on the page from one to four times.

Sellers do hire a brokerage to market and sell their homes, and a big part of which is marketing the homes to the broadest audience possible. The real losers in this situation are home sellers, and the agents who represent them. If a brokerage isn’t marketing listings on Zillow, it isn’t seen across the largest real estate network in the country, or across the most popular platform of mobile real estate apps.

In December, more than 23 million unique users visited Zillow’s websites and mobile apps. On a mobile device alone, home shoppers viewed nearly 100 million homes in December via Zillow; that’s 36 homes per second on mobile! 

I think if the sellers are given the choice, they would want to see their homes on every possible platform that will contribute to getting it sold.

January 31, 2012 05:48 PM
Ambassador
730,713
Brad Andersohn
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy

BTW - I wanted to add that Greg Schwartz just posted an article regarding how Zillow works with Listing agents.  I don't want to appear as though I'm spamming here, but the post is relative. I know others will be interested in this too: http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-02-03/how-zillow-works-with-listing-agents/ 

February 03, 2012 05:04 PM
Rainmaker
814,125
J. Philip Faranda
Broker-Owner
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY

Brad-mi casa su casa. always. 

February 03, 2012 05:21 PM
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Additional Information

Phil Faranda is broker and owner of J. Philip Real Estate LLC in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Since founding the firm as a sole practitioner in late 2005, the team has grown to over 30 agents & closed 350+ transactions valued at $140 million. He is in his 4th term as Vice President of the HGMLS. This blog commentary is geared toward consumers and industry colleagues alike. You can reach him at (914) 723-8900.
Warning: *Sarcasm and irony advisory at all times.*



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