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Help Me, Don't Sell Me: The Future of IDX

May 12 2019

wav help me dont sell me future of idxOne of my favorite pastimes is to read the reviews that consumers leave for Homesnap, the technology partner of the Broker Public Portal. As a consultant to the Broker Public Portal, reading the reviews informs my awareness of the best and worst features of the app. The funny part is that even the complaints are positive. The favorite feature of the app is that consumers are connected directly with the listing agent.

Consumers do not want to be sold, and they do not want to be treated like a lead in a lead funnel. They are trying to discover a home for their family.

As you know, broker and agent IDX websites and third-party ad portals do not follow the Fair Display Guidelines, which make it easy for a consumer to connect with the listing agent. Rather, IDX websites and advertising portals direct the consumer to the next agent in line for a lead—typically an agent who has no knowledge of the property the consumer is asking about. Remember, the consumer has already looked at the listing record and photos. They want to know something about the house that is not in the data.

Imagine the experience of walking into a Honda dealership and asking a question about the Bluetooth integration on a car that you see on the lot. The sales rep says, "I have never seen that car before, but I can go look at it with you and represent you in purchasing it. I help car buyers like you negotiate the best possible price on cars and will assist you throughout the complex transaction process!"

"Wait a second!" you exclaim. "I want you to answer my question, not sell me on why you should be my agent."

Perhaps the greatest thing about Homesnap is that it connects consumers with the listing agent—the most knowledgeable person for that house other than the homeowner. When a homebuyer is poking around the market to get a sense of neighborhood and value, they want answers, not a sales pitch. Guess what—consumers like this about Homesnap.

I know that it seems like a crazy idea, but I would love to see a brokerage rethink their website strategy and put the contact name of every listing agent on every property of their website. I understand the argument against this. Let's unpack it:

  1. I would be giving a lead to a competitor.
  2. I might not be generating as many leads for my buyer's agents or relocation business.

I could probably come up with more reasons, but reason #1 is probably enough to stop any brokerage from doing it. It seems counterintuitive to give leads to a competitor after investing all of that time and treasury in attracting a consumer to your website. But what if:

  1. You use the lead generation to recruit that listing agent from another firm because you not only believe in giving leads on an agent's listing to the listing agent at your firm, but you believe that this is the best practice.
  2. You refer that lead out as a referral to that listing agent—so even when you are giving away a lead, you can recapture the cost of lead generation.
  3. Consumers like your site better because you connect them to an agent who actually knows the property and your site becomes the most popular site in your area. After all, we all know that Redfin has the most popular brokerage website in America, but more consumers use Redfin for search than they do to transact. At some level, Redfin benefits even if the transaction happens with a non-Redfin agent.

Maybe IDX has had its run. Perhaps brokers should refocus their websites on creating a special experience that markets each of their listings rather than focusing on a normalized search experience across the entire MLS. It annoys me that most broker and agent websites do not even have a Featured Listing or Our Listings button anymore. Akin to refocusing on the listings you represent, perhaps broker websites should position their agents better. Real estate is not about selling homes, it is about representing buyers and sellers with fantastic agents backed by an awesome broker. A fresh strategy discussion might inspire some innovation.

If you are a brokerage who wants to launch a test site for this type of thinking, contact Victor Lund. We might make a profound difference and delight the consumer.

To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.

Other articles of interest: Top Producer IDX | Birdview IDX