Late Friday night, Abbott Realty Group (ARG) out of San Diego sent shutter's throughout Real Estate cyberspace with a YouTube video announcing that they are going to pull all of their listings out of Listing Syndication platforms such Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow. This follows an announcement back in November from Edina Realty that they were doing the same thing.
Here is the for those who haven't seen it yet. Here is a link to the video:
This has a caused quite a stir in the Real Estate cyber-world, and has invoked a lot of conversation, both for and against listing syndication. If you watch the video, scroll down to the comments section and you will see what I mean. Jim Abbott of ARG points out the reasons they pulled their listings in this video. He starts off by saying these sites post an agency's listing data alongside contact information of other agents who pay for the right to have their contact information displayed. He later says that they make it nearly impossible for the consumer to discover who the listing agent is. He asserts that they have inside data the proves that neither a home seller or potential home buyer are remotely well served by these listing syndicators. He says that these syndicators use fear and peer pressure to induce agents and brokers to sign long term costly contracts to use their lead generation services. He goes on the say that much of the information on these sites is inaccurate and misleading to the public, and often overstate the actual inventory of homes for sale. They do this, Abbott says, to extract exorbitant fees from unsuspecting agents and brokers. They also promote the outright theft of an agents and brokers intellectual property (such as property photos, virtual tours, property description language), and take this property without compensation to the broker, agent, photographer and videographer who create, pay for and own this content. He then goes on to say the consumer is the one who really gets the raw end of the deal, because the agent whose contact information is posted alongside a home is not the listing agent, and the contact agent may or may not be an expert in the market area of the particular home, and whose only qualification is that they paid to have their contact information on the site. In fact, Abbot continues, that agent most likely has never seen the house of interest, nor are they likely to have detailed knowledge of the home or neighborhood, and will more than likely try to switch the consumer to one of their listings, or a neighborhood that they do know. Finally, Abbott says that these site represent a failed approach to property marketing, that frustrates home buyers, hurts home seller, and brings little value to the brokers and agent who own the listings and the content that is attached to them.
As a Real Estate Agent and Brokerage, one of our main objectives to get our listings sold. Our home sellers, for the most part, do not care how we get their house sold, as long we get the job done. The data is clear, around 90% of home buyers start their home search on the internet. To me, an agent or brokerage who will pull their listings from 3 of the top 5 most visited Real Estate websites is doing their customers, the home seller, a disservice. In fact, by doing this, they are also creating a false picture of the Real Estate market by leaving out their listings out of these top visited sites. The home buyer who searches these sites will get an understated picture of the Real Estate inventory.
There has been a fundamental shift in the Real Estate industry in the last 15 years or so. We, as Real Estate professionals, are no longer the keepers of the information. The information is out there for all to see, whether its from the public side of our MLS's, our own websites, or the syndicators that are mentioned above and in this video. When an agent or brokerage keeps their listings off of these sites, they are limiting the online exposure that their listings get.
I know that there are many in the industry who disagree with me, but to me, it's not about who owns the listing information or data. In fact, I think that most home owners would dispute that they own the data because it's about their homes. But in the end, they don't care about owns this intellectual property. They don't see these sites as giving false or misleading information, and to be honest, for the most part, these sites pull their information from our MLS's, so much of the false information is coming from our own intellectual property.
It's not about owning data or intellectual property, it's about getting our listings maximum exposure and putting them in front of as many potential buyers as possible. It's about doing the job our customers pay us to do, getting their homes sold.
It's about the customer, stupid.