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MLS Policy: Broker Attribution Back to the Drawing Board
This is great news! Multiple Listing Issues and Policy Committee voted to send the Broker Attribution policy change recommendation back for another look. It's an impressive move based on a recommendation by the NAR leadership during the Committee meeting. Why the recommendation for policy change?
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Real Estate Must Fix the Problems with Photography
One of the most interesting things about being an expert witness is recognizing how companies can avoid costly litigation. Zillow actually tested the courts in the case of VHT v. Zillow. The facts of the case were reported by Inman News. In summary, VHT filed for copyright on their images. The copyright was granted. VHT then provided a notification of their filing and requested removal. Zillow refused. VHT sued. The court awarded damages. I think the case is on appeal. This issue is not with Zillow or any other portal, it is about protecting the rights of copyright holders and giving privacy to families that buy homes.
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Zillow May Have Finally Justified Listing Syndication
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Zillow Group Continues Tradition of Showing Consumers FSBO, Other Non-MLS Listings
Since its early days, Zillow Group has maintained a position that consumer interest is best served by allowing listings from many sources, including For Sale By Owner, to be posted to their site. This may be, in part, why Zillow sites had 187 million unique visitors last year. Recently, WAV Group noticed a new type of broker support that is in line with this policy.
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Changes to Flexmls Listing Syndication Options Coming This Week
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Time for Brokers to Clean Up Online Profiles
Online real estate agent and brokerage profiles are a mess. Specifically, agent and broker profiles on broker websites, Zillow, Realtor.com, and Homes.com are naturally in disarray at this time of year. With transaction volume low during December, it is a very good time to clean everything up. Most brokerages audited by WAV Group consulting average 10 percent inaccuracy, which reduces lead generation and undermines a firm's online reputation. Start With Data Collection It is a relatively easy task to collect the data necessary to update profiles. Start with your offices. "Offices have identities," says Marilyn Wilson, partner with WAV Group. "When we audit brokerage firms, we find that companies who have moved offices rarely put forth the effort to remove the old offices from association databases, MLS databases, brokerage websites, and syndication websites." There are services that can do this for you. WAV Group has resources that can automate the process on major search sites like Yelp, Google, and others. But the syndication sites require more effort, typically requiring the broker to log into the publisher site to make corrections. Agent profiles are the heavy lifting. It is vital that you collect the profile image of all of your agents, detail their contact information, and help them curate a reasonable bio of at least 250 words. Here is a quick guide for 5 Best Tips to Create a Powerful Bio (Sherry McCormick).
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Marketing Automation to Fundamentally Change Real Estate Marketing
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Setting Up and Maximizing Your ListHub Pro/Pro-Plus Accounts (9/22)
Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 8:00 AM PDT This short training webinar is for ListHub Pro and Pro-Plus customers. This class will teach you how to create your ListHub account and demonstrate how to access your listing presentation flyers, auto-email your Seller Reports to your clients, and make the most of your online marketing reports. Register now!
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Getting Started with Your ListHub Basic Account (8/31)
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Getting Started With Your ListHub Basic Account (8/7)
Thursday, August 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM PDT This short training webinar is for ListHub Basic users (free account) and is your first step in learning how to create and manage an effective online marketing strategy using ListHub. You will learn how to access over 80 national publishers through our easy to use platform. You will also learn how to manage yours leads, redirect traffic to your website, and much more, including how you can ensure the accuracy of your online data. Register now!
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Getting Started With Your ListHub Basic Account (6/30)
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Getting Started With Your ListHub Basic Account (6/15)
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM PDT This short training webinar is for ListHub Basic users (free account) and is your first step in learning how to create and manage an effective online marketing strategy using ListHub. You will learn how to access over 80 national publishers through our easy to use platform. You will also learn how to manage yours leads, redirect traffic to your website, and much more, including how you can ensure the accuracy of your online data. Register now!
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Setting Up and Maximizing Your ListHub Pro/Pro-Plus Accounts (6/9)
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Getting Started With Your ListHub Basic Account (6/1)
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 8:00 AM PDT This short training webinar is for ListHub Basic users (free account) and is your first step in learning how to create and manage an effective online marketing strategy using ListHub. You will learn how to access over 80 national publishers through our easy to use platform. You will also learn how to manage yours leads, redirect traffic to your website, and much more, including how you can ensure the accuracy of your online data. Register now!
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Real Estate in Crisis: Is Nothing Better Than Something?
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Attracting Online Consumers: Listings and Syndication
Last year, ListHub collaborated with The CE Shop to create a course to help educate real estate professionals about the nuances of listing syndication and how to attract online consumers. Now you can learn about syndication AND get credit for it! This new comprehensive course from The CE Shop is designed with the goal of helping brokers and agents make more informed decisions about syndication and data rights. Course highlights include: Tips for putting together an engaging listing description A review of key fair housing laws and how they affect listing descriptions How to get the best images for listings An overview of the risks and rewards of listing syndication Tips for selecting and working with a listing syndication provider An analysis of listing syndication agreements and clauses to watch for Questions to consider before signing away your listing data
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Listing Syndication Basics for Brokers
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Inaccurate Listing Data? Check Your Virtual Tour Solution
A common tool that you or your agents are using to promote listings may be an unexpected source of inaccurate property data. If you're noticing that the price or other details of your listings are showing up incorrectly online and you're not sure why, you may want to check your virtual tour solution. That's right--several virtual tour solutions on the market today offer syndication to the major portals. If you've turned off the syndication feature that your vendor offers, there may be another culprit. Many professional real estate photographers include virtual tours with their services. Check to see if the tour solution they're using requires them to enter property details manually. Virtual tours that don't rely on automated data feeds from the MLS are one of the biggest sources of listing inaccuracy. When a photographer first creates a virtual tour, everything looks great--the photos are attractive and high resolution, and the property price matches the initial listing price. But what if the price of the home is reduced? Your agent will of course change that in the MLS, but it's unlikely that they'll think to update the price in their virtual tour solution--and that inaccurate price will still be syndicated by the tour. To head off this problem, brokerages should be sure that their agents are using a modern virtual tour that are auto-populated with data pulled from the MLS. That way, the tour will automatically reflect changes to property information. When a listing's price is changed, that change will be reflected both on the virtual tour platform and on sites it may upload to, like YouTube. Additionally, when a listing is sold, the tour will automatically be taken offline.
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MLS Not Ready for Direct Syndication
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Listing Syndication Now Part of Broker Office Policy Manuals in Colorado
Colorado Real Estate Commission Position 21 (CP-21) was officially revised this week to include Listing Syndication within office policy manuals. CP-21 is a long standing position statement that covers a variety of topics suggested for real estate office policy manuals such as handling earnest money, contract review and, as of April 7th, listing syndication. Timing is perfect considering the recent changes between listing syndication giant, Listhub, and consumer portals, Zillow and Trulia. As of April 7th, Listhub and Zillow Group ended their contract with one another, leaving brokers and agents wondering how their listings will be sent to consumer portals. Increased marketing exposure for listings can be beneficial but may also come at a cost. Duplicate listings, lag time on listing changes, unauthorized use, unfavorable Terms of Use and re-syndication have become increasingly problematic. These issues, combined with general confusion of how listings are sent to third parties, may cause Managing Brokers to struggle with forming office policy regarding how, when and where listings should be displayed. In turn, agents are often unsure how to answer consumer questions regarding marketing properties on third party sites. Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES and former state MLS Presidential Advisory Group member, presented information to the Colorado Real Estate Commissioners to encourage listing syndication dialogue between Broker owners and agents in February 2015. "I'm thrilled with the Real Estate Commission's decision to include listing syndication in CP-21. To my knowledge, Colorado is the first real estate licensing entity in the country to make this move," said Hansen. "I'm hopeful that this decision will be a launching pad for thoughtful discussion regarding the pros and cons of listing syndication at office meetings." To help brokers with the process, IRES drafted an office policy template related to Listing Syndication participation that they can cut, paste and revise as they see fit. According to the Real Estate Commission, the implementation of the new and improved CP-21 position will take effect immediately.
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ListHub/Zillow Divorce Stimulates Discussion
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Broker Best Practices for Avoiding Listing Delay and Inaccurate Data
There are countless methods for distributing listing data, and some are more prone to error and lead loss than others. Today, we're going to look at what some of those channels are and explore ways brokers can ensure that their data is accurate and up-to-date to best serve their customers and represent the quality of their brand online. Choose a Single Source of Distribution One of the best practices for brokers is to define a single syndication method so that listing information goes to publishers from only one location. This is important because when a publisher gets the same listing data from multiple sources, they have to use "trumping rules" to determine which information to display. This slows the frequency of listing updates. Furthermore, all of these competing "voices" may not be sharing the same information, even on the same listing, thus poorly representing the quality of your brokerage to consumers. Once you define your method, it is important to ensure agents are providing listing data through these controlled channels. There are multiple ways that listings are distributed. The most common method is via the MLS, as most MLSs syndicate listings to Realtor.com and distribute listings to a large number of IDX vendors. Many MLSs have outsourced listing syndication to services like ListHub and reDataVault. But, only the MLS can provide data directly to publisher websites, like Trulia and Zillow, via a RETS server, which can update listing changes every few minutes. If a broker is part of a franchise or network, the franchise may also syndicate directly to publishers. RE/MAX, Realogy and Keller Williams all do this since they have the technical resources, but the quality of their listing flow varies depending on their technology. Additionally, virtual tour and single property website providers and companies like Postlets also provide listing syndication services.
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3 Keys to Evaluating How Portals Protect Your Brand
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Why Frequent Listing Updates are Better for Your Brokerage
Your brokerage's listings exist online from the time they're listed to the time when their status changes to pending. During that period, you're generating brand impressions each and every time someone views a listing online. How is your brand presenting itself? A substantial part of your brand's impression depends on the accuracy of the listings with which you're associated. This is particularly true in high-demand locales like San Francisco, where days-on-market may be as low as nine. If a potential buyer is relying on, for example, public search portals to find new listings, a significant delay in how quickly those listings are updated may mean that by the time that buyer is notified of a new property, it may already be too late for him or her to take action. Imagine that buyer's frustration upon calling your office and discovering that the listing is already off the market--and so is the next one they inquire about, and the next. The consumer will feel like they've been lead on or even deceived. This is not the kind of impression your firm wants to make. This is why it's important to be in control of when and where your listings appear online. Too many brokers are comfortable with simply sending their listings to every available publisher channel in the syndication tool they use without understanding how the publisher handles their data or how frequently they update it.
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Trulia launches Get Fresh Campaign in support of data accuracy
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Unintended Consequences
WAV Group has been studying listing syndication for a long time. We have observed that the listing syndication strategy has been hugely successful at supporting the brokerage firm from exiting the expensive and largely underperforming newspaper advertising demand by sellers. The first week of the month is the period of time that I sit in on a number of brokerage management and board of directors meetings. At each meeting I am asked the same question: "Do sellers request newspaper advertising anymore?" The answer is a resounding "NO!" The removal of the expense of advertising in the newspaper was a huge windfall for brokerage firms. One client removed $6,000,000 from their advertising budget over a period of years as they transitioned from print to web – which equated to about $100 per month per agent. Today, they have parlayed that savings into a suite of productivity solutions and online marketing and have dropped that number from $100 per month to less than $50. Better yet, the results are better. Today consumers ask their agent how they are going to market their company online, not in the newspaper. It is a huge win for all parties concerned. WAV Group consults not only with brokerages but also with MLSs. MLSs want to deploy strategies that strengthen the participant and subscribers' connection to the consumer, and listing syndication is an important service. Some MLSs do not agree, and have dropped listing syndication altogether taking the stance that the consumer has many options to access real estate listing content on agent and broker websites. Who needs portals?
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"Valuable" Real Estate Data: The Listing Syndication Debate
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MOVE Acquires Point2 Syndication Contracts
It looks like MOVE, operators of Realtor.com, have taken a stride that is not altogether different from the success that Zillow is garnering with their acquisition strategy. MOVE is doing their best to control the pipelines that deliver advertising to portals in the United States. MOVE already owns ListHub, the largest syndicator of listing content. Now they pick up their nearest competitor – Point2 – much in the same way that Zillow picked up Trulia. The biggest difference, beyond taking out a competitor, is that they will removing a layer of duplication of listing syndication. Spencer Rascoff of Zillow describes today's listing syndication feeds as spaghetti. MOVE will now have a pretty good chance of cleaning up the problems. Point2 is providing a single data point for CREA that amasses the country's listings from every market. MOVE did not buy that. Point2 will also continue to manage all of the syndication for CREA. Point2 will also retain all of their syndication technology; ListHub is just getting the contracts in the US with MLSs, Associations, and publishers. This acquisition is for US listing syndication services only. Point2 will continue to provide MLS consumer facing websites, Point2 Agent Websites, Team Websites, Point2 Mobile, etc. I tried to reach out to Saul Klein to chat with him about this, but he was not available. I imagine that his phone is on fire. Saul has been at the forefront of a project he called Contract Alignment – a process of using the listing syndication agreements between content providers and publishers to cure many of the ills of syndication. Knowing Saul, I doubt that he will drop the ball on this topic as a vocal supporter. He has a pretty untamable passion for this stuff. The saddest part is that he will no longer have a mechanism for getting in the middle to impact change. In other stunning news, Saul Klein and his partner John are no longer working with Point2 or Yardi, effective September 1.
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Who Syndicated My Listings?
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Road Map to Listing Syndication
Listing syndication to online portals is in the throes of a revolution in real estate today. Listing syndication has followed a philosophical pattern first envisioned by the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel in his triadic process – thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis. This paper will walk though the first two phases of the process, discussing the evolution of the original thesis of listing syndication followed by the new roots of today's chaotic antithesis. The industry is developing a plethora of new models to transmit listings for online advertising at a pace that is eroding the effectiveness of the process in a significant way. However, out of this chaos of antithesis we are beginning to see a glimmer of new publishers who seek to be the best possible partners to brokers. A new synthesis is on the horizon. The Birth of Listing Syndication From 2004 to 2006, listing syndication to online publishers played an important and strategic role in the success of real estate brokers. At the time, firms in competitive markets who carried between 100 and 150 listings were spending $1 million annually on print advertising. The print advertising was not effective in generating many leads, but it was done because the seller insisted and the agent agreed. There is something magical about seeing your home and your agent's photo in the newspaper that stirs the soul. Unfortunately, print was not financially sustainable. Brokers needed a way out. Consumers had already fled to the internet for property search, and brokers needed a way to cut their advertising budget. Portals solved the print crisis by offering marketing to millions of consumers shopping for listings on Yahoo, AOL, Google, MSN, and so many others – more reach at a fraction of the cost. Newspapers became nursing homes where advertising dollars went to die. Brokers took up the initiative of manually duplicating listing input onto publisher websites, or providing crude FTP data feeds.
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The Global Opportunity
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Howard Hanna Promotes 5,700 REALTORS® on Realtor.com
Today's real estate broker faces some difficult decisions when it comes to online advertising. The choices are often predicated upon what your competition is doing, what sellers demand, traffic and leads generated by your website or franchise website, website owner terms of use, who gets the lead, and who pays – agent or broker. It is really quite a mess. It is so bad, that many large firms have walked away from it entirely and leave it up to the agent. Other firms have taken the proverbial bull by the horn and worked hard to market listings online is a very controlled and purposeful fashion. Howard Hanna is one of those brokers. About Howard Hanna Howard Hanna is among the most dominant online marketing brokers in America. In their core cities of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, traffic to their broker website is greater than the national sites like realtor.com®, Zillow, Trulia, and Homes.com (Hitwise). But Howard Hanna stretches well beyond those two metropolitan areas. The firm covers most of Pennsylvania, most of Ohio, and parts of Virginia, Michigan, upstate New York, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland (169 offices in total). They are the fourth largest firm in North America, trading 52,827 homes and $9.7 billion in closed sales in 2013. Howard Hanna is also a full service firm offering consumers services in Mortgage, Title, and Insurance. An important component of the Realtor.com arrangement is not only that broker competition is not displayed on a Howard Hanna listing, but neither is any other competition from home services companies. Howard Hanna listings are generating leads for all of the affiliated companies they have. The effort also extends to the Realtor.com mobile application, too.
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Euro Net Privacy Calls Brokers to Action
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Calculating ROI on Syndication to Publishers
WAV Group provides enterprise brokers with a monitoring service to measure their listing syndication strategy. It is a thorny and emotional topic where risks and rewards are balanced delicately. Undoubtedly, this week brokers who do syndicate to publisher websites are reviewing their reports from last month. Here are a few things you should look at. Listing Views Obviously, you want to know the number of times that your listing was viewed on each publisher website. The easiest way to view listings by publisher is to look at reports from your listing distributor – like ListHub, Point2, reDataVault, etc. If you are sending the data from your broker website provider, you may not be getting this information in a consolidated report. Rather, you will need to combine the listing reports from each publisher. Here are a few things to be aware of. About 30% of the listing views are robots, not consumers. With the exception of Realtor.com, few publishers have strong anti-scraping technologies. This also explains why publishers report so many millions of visits when there are so few homes sold per year. They are counting machine traffic (so are reporting tools like ComScore). Visits It is always a good idea to look at the visits to your website as a result of syndication. Driving website traffic is a key benefit of syndication. Most firms see about four visits per listing, per month for premium brokers (premium means you pay). There are techniques to improve this that include modifying photos and modifying description text.
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What's New With ListHub Global?
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Questions to Ask Before Sharing
Guest contributor Meg White of REALTOR®Mag says: Brokers: Before anyone else can advertise your listings, you must give consent. Any listing advertisement must include your name and any additional information required by state law such as office location or telephone number. But there are other factors to consider when you're deciding where you'll allow listing data to be displayed. These questions, drawn from a list developed by NAR attorneys, will help you evaluate companies and websites that display listings. Look at how the site displays content. Is the broker's identity properly displayed? Is the listing agent identified? Is the listing agent's contact information included? Do links on the listing display go directly to the broker? Does the publisher include a visible timestamp? Are agents who are not affiliated with the broker advertised on the broker's listings? Does the listing display clearly distinguish between the listing content and advertising placed around it? Are copyright notices on listings preserved and displayed? Is the publisher's identity readily identifiable on the website?
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Crye-Leike to Halt Syndication to Zillow and Trulia on Thursday
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First Out of the Gate: Manage Online Leads and Respond Faster
According to the latest NAR Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, the number of home buyers using the Internet to search for a home increased this past year to 92%. We all know why buyers are looking online--it's convenient and the information is available any time of day, with the click of a mouse. So it's not surprising that response time is consistently cited as one of the most important factors to buyers when working with an agent. "Today's Internet consumer is expecting a response certainly within the hour but, more likely, within 15 or 20 minutes," said Bradley Miller, One Cavo founder and president. That is why so many leading real estate companies have instituted lead management programs to help their agents respond to clients fast. Yet even with lead management tools, real estate professionals ignore or are late in responding to almost 75% of customer leads, according to a study conducted by PCMS Consulting and One Cavo. According to the same study, half of agents did not respond to Internet leads at all! Managing online leads is a challenge for businesses in every industry, not just real estate. It's widely known that online leads go cold fast, so response time is key. The Harvard Business Review conducted a study analyzing over 1 million sales leads received by 29 B2C and 13 B2B companies. Companies that contacted potential customers within an hour of receiving an inquiry were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as compared to those that contacted the prospect even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. It's so important to be the 'first out of the gate' and respond to those leads fast!
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Authorship and Canonical Links on Real Estate Listings
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It’s 2013, Do You Know Where Your Listings Are?
Are you confused about the difference between re-syndication and powered-by sites? Don't worry, you are not alone! The topic of "re-syndication" and how it's different from websites 'powering' other sites seems to keep popping up year after year, but many are still learning about this distinction, so we're going to break it all down right here. First of all, ListHub does not allow its publisher partners to re-syndicate the listings they receive from ListHub. Why? Because if the listings get re-distributed then the third party websites down the line who receive your listings would have no rules or terms around how they can use the information. That means your listing data could be a) sold, b) left online indefinitely resulting in stale inaccurate data, c) repackaged into derivative products, and other problems that will cause other unintended damage to you. Obviously this is a problem, which is why ListHub prohibits publishers from re-syndicating ANY of the listings being syndicated via ListHub. ListHub has strong contracts in place with each and every publisher that protect your information from unintended use. To review these protections click here, but in short, they ensure that your listings are used for consumer display purposes only – no more, no less. Now, what about the "extended network" of ListHub publishers? How do they receive and maintain the integrity of the listing data? The answer lies in how the technology works.
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Syndication Platforms Improve Listing Accuracy
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Are Your Listings Being Hijacked?
Real estate professionals are constantly running into situations where their listings are being hijacked and published on sites like Craigslist as part of rental scams. The National Association of REALTORS® has a Risk Management Committee that published a guide to monitoring your listings online so you can be alerted to any unauthorized use of your listing. NAR suggests three methods for monitoring your listings: Google Alerts IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) Google Images With Google Alerts, you simply enter the address of your property listing. Be sure to include site 'craigslist.org' in the query with your property address. Set the Result Type to Everything, set How Often to Daily, and set How Many to Everything. This is also a handy way to send a report to your seller. IfThisThenThat is another service for monitoring your listing online. You can create a free account and set up an alert that they call a Recipe. Select Craigslist as a trigger channel. To build the recipe, do a search on Craigslist and copy the URL of the search and paste it into IfThisThenThat. The last step is to create an email alert.
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How SourceMLS Benefits Brokers
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Product Review: ListHub Global
This product review is a bit out of the ordinary for us. There was no hour plus demo to sit through, no interface screenshots to take, and no set-up processes to explain. Brokers will be happy to learn that this is because ListHub Global is an extremely low maintenance solution that, once activated, acts like any other affiliate ListHub publisher. It's accessible through the same interface, and is automatically included in your ListHub reports. The only difference is that instead of syndicating listings domestically, ListHub Global distributes your listings to potential buyers in over 40 countries. While that sounds simple, ListHub Global is actually a sophisticated solution to a complex data problem. The Challenges of Global Listing Distribution At the heart of this problem is the organization--or lack thereof--of international listing data. Listing accuracy is a contentious issue here in the United States, but that's only because it's so important to us. We have agreements governing the use of listing data and have built MLS connected platforms to help ensure the integrity of that data. Internationally, however, the situation is quite different. In fact, a ListHub study of international data found that a whopping 75 percent of listings were inaccurate--some with "last sold" dates as far back as 2007, 2005, and even 1992! This is because in other countries, listing data is considered "open." Listings don't have the same protections as they do in the United States, and no one party bears the right or responsibility to ensure the accuracy of those listings. As you can imagine, US brokers looking to distribute their listings overseas face a daunting problem when it comes to preserving the integrity of their listing data.
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Aggregators, Realtor.com® Hot Topics at Broker Conference
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Choosing a Listing Syndication Solution
This is the latest in a series of 'Buyer's Guides' that feature questions to ask and options to consider before making a new purchase. See our previous guides to purchasing a CMA, CRM, Document and Transaction Management, Electronic Signature, Ad Network, IDX/VOW, iPad App, Back Office, and Lead Generation solution. What is Listing Syndication? Listing syndication allows you to share property information on third party Web sites. It is a cornerstone of Internet marketing; but, in order for it to be effective, a thorough understanding of the concept and your specific solution is essential. We recommend reading a few articles (for instance, "Listing Syndication Definitions") on RE Technology to get started. The companies that build listing syndication technology are experts in this area and can be a wonderful resource, so don't hesitate to reach out to them with any of your questions. Questions to Ask There are some important questions to ask when buying any real estate technology product and some that are unique to choosing a listing syndication solution. First, let's look at general questions you'll want to ask. What are my objectives for this piece of technology and will this product help me achieve those objectives? What is my budget? What kind of customer service and training programs are available? Are there webinars and, if so, are they recorded so you can view them at any time? Is the vendor's online help sufficient?
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Questions to ponder
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The Challenges (and Opportunities!) of International Advertising
Imagine this, you find your listing displayed on a popular website in France--the only problem is that the listing sold five years ago! You are outraged, so you decide to call the website, a French publisher (a six-hour time zone difference away) trying to make a case that the website must remove the listing because it is no longer on the market. Now, imagine this conversation taking place in French... Operator: "Parlez-vous français?" You: "No...English please." Operator: "Je ne parle pas anglais." You: "...huh?" Well, you get the picture. It sounds daunting, to say the least! Marketing to international buyers comes with certain challenges. In other countries listings are considered "open listings" and nobody has the exclusive right – or responsibility – to market a property accurately and effectively. Currently, companies who syndicate listings to international publishers today are doing so without the level of protections we have become accustomed to here in the United States. Accuracy is a pervasive problem in international advertising, one that we explored in detail with our 2013 study on international advertising. We conducted research in which we evaluated listing data accuracy on two major publishers in the UK that display U.S. listings.
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A new tenor to integrated solutions for brokerage
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Get Moving and Go Mobile!
It wasn't long ago that the thought of having access to the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a device you could fit in your pocket seemed like the stuff of science fiction. Today it is not only reality, it is common place! In fact, the number of Internet-connected mobile devices (i.e. - smartphones and tablets) will exceed the number of desktops and laptop computers in the next year, according to recent report from Morgan Stanley. The growth and usage of mobile devices in the real estate industry has skyrocketed in the last few years. Companies in nearly every industry are considering how to leverage mobile to maximize their ROI. With ListHub, it's easy! Many of our top publishers have either a mobile friendly website or application for download, and some have both making it easy for you to reach consumers on the go. Here are some recent stats from a few of our publisher partners about mobile usage in 2013: More than 241 million homes were viewed on Zillow via a mobile device in April 2013. That's 93 homes per second! In Q1, Trulia had 11.4 million mobile monthly unique visitors, up 122% year-over-year Mobile traffic now makes up 40% of HomeFinder.com's traffic across the site's apps and mobile website
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Whitepaper: Maximum Marketing - Part 2
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6 Steps Brokers Must Take to Protect Their Role in the Real Estate Transaction
For many brokers and agents, worry is mounting that popular real estate listing portals will do to the real estate business what Expedia did to travel agents—that is, make their business model and role obsolete. The fear that keeps some brokers up at night is that eventually, these portals, which have been highly successful at attracting consumers, will begin selling properties directly to these consumers, thereby cutting out the perceived "middle man": the real estate broker. There's no denying that real estate listing portals have become an extremely popular way to search for homes and offer wide exposure to consumers. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 96 percent of homebuyers under the age of 44 used the Internet in their home search, mostly through one or more real estate portals. And total unique visitors to real estate sites are up 70 percent year over year, according to ComScore. But is selling properties really the end game for real estate portals? The portals say a resounding "no," insisting that their business model has little in common with that of brokers. Portals generally assert that they are focused on providing exposure for properties, and generate their revenues from advertising and lead generation. We don't want to be part of the transaction," says Mark Tepper, senior vice president of sales and marketing at HomeFinder.com. "Our goal is to facilitate the transaction and make the agent's job easier. We are a marketing organization. We want to get consumers to come to our site and then get them to brokers."
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Whitepaper: Maximum Marketing
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Whitepaper: Maximum Marketing, Part 2
This article is Part Two of a new whitepaper from ListHub. Click here to view Part One. Do Brokers Know What They Are Doing? Are brokers making an informed choice when they choose Maximum Marketing? As new publisher sites and models have emerged over the years, some industry participants have questioned whether brokers are demonstrating ignorance with their actions when they make these advertising choices. Do Brokers Need to be Protected From Themselves? So, we asked them. ListHub recently conducted a survey to learn what factors are important to brokers when deciding where to market their listings online. The survey was administered by both phone and email to 200 ListHub brokers who have selected "Maximize Marketing." We Found Out "Were you aware that you selected all of the sites?" First, we wanted to find out if these brokers were even aware of their selections. With 83% responding "Yes," we learned that the brokers knew the choices they had made. "Why did you choose to send your listings to all of the sites in the network?" The second question was open-ended. However, we received many similar responses. The common thread for these brokers was the importance of getting the maximum exposure possible.
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Whitepaper: Maximum Marketing
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Trulia Buys Market Leader
In a release today, Trulia announced that they are buying Market Leader. As a result, Trulia has taken ownership of a brokerage. That means that they can compete with other online brokerages like Redfin, ZipRealty, Sawbuck, Movoto, and others. However, I do not think that is their strategy. There is a persistent paradigm emerging in the portal business where these companies combine the portal with technology products and services offered to agents and brokers. Operating a portal that relies on ad spending alone does not seem to be sustainable for the type of growth and stable recurring revenue that investors require. Advertising has, and always will be, a volatile business. Offering deeper levels of products and services to agents is a classic cross-sell opportunity. Move was the first portal to recognize this strategy, and has a suite of products that begin with Top Producer and expand from there. Zillow has followed the same path with their acquisition strategy of Diverse Solutions. Homes.com offers HomesConnect for agents and brokers, and powers many of the largest franchise sites in America. With Market Leader's suite of products, Trulia can now provide agents with more leads, offer marketing on RealEstate.com, HouseValues, JustListed, as well as Trulia. They can move that buyer lead directly into agent websites backed by a full contact management solution, drip marketing, and excellent market analytic reports. For sellers, they have a full marketing suite with flyers, postcards, virtual tours and, of course, the ability to market that seller listing up through the portals – Trulia, RealEstate.com, etc.
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To Pay or Not to Pay… That Is the Question
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Is Data Scraping Taking Money from Brokers’ Pockets? Realtor.com’s Curt Beardsley Says, ‘Yes’
Data scraping and misuse of listing data that belongs to brokers are growing concerns. Many scrapers (or others who receive the data legitimately but use it in ways that violates its licenses) are actively reselling listing data for various uses not intended by brokers, such as statistical or financial reporting. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Curt Beardsley, vice president of consumer and industry development at Move, Inc., a leader in online real estate and operator of realtor.com®. Beardsley shared his thoughts on the proliferation of data scraping, the grey market for data, and how brokers can protect their data from unintended uses. Reva Nelson: How are scrapers using the listing data once they scrape it? Curt Beardsley: The listing data's first and foremost value is as an advertisement to get the property sold, and to promote the agent and broker. That value is clear and fairly simple. But the second value is not as clearly defined, which is all the ancillary ways this data can be used, such as for statistical reporting, valuation, marketing of relevant services, targeted mailing lists – that is beyond the original purpose of the listing, which is to present information to consumers and other agents to facilitate the sale of the property. Banks and other entities are eager to get hold of that data because it lets them know who will be up for a mortgage, who will be moving, who will be potentially needing services, etc. People who are selling homes offer a prime marketing opportunity since they may need movers, packing materials, storage, etc. There is a vast grey market for this data. RN: Given that the users of this data aren't even in the real estate industry, why should brokers be concerned about this issue? CB: If your license agreements aren't clear, that whole other world gets fed and is living on this data. It is taking money out of the broker's pocket. The leaks are taking money away in two different ways. First, if this marketplace could be created, it's a revenue stream. Brokers could be making money off of this. Second, they lose control of the leaked data. Brokers are losing control of their brand, and the way that listing is being monetized and displayed. Consumers are agitated when they keep connecting to their agents with homes that are not really for sale. A lot of it is wrong. Agents are paying for leads on homes that went off the market months ago. As a broker, that's a brand problem.
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Stemming the Tide of Data Misappropriation
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MLS Preferred Publishers? What is that?
The word "Publishers" refers to the Zillows and Trulias of the world – those websites that, whether we love or hate them, have become an important part of the real estate marketing mix for most brokers and agents. And these days, there are literally dozens of them to choose from! So, how do brokers choose what sites make sense for their business? Although most brokers still opt for maximizing opportunities to attract buyers to their clients' listings, there are many brokers who also want to play things on the safer side, being more selective in choosing the sites they advertise their listings on. By being more targeted, brokers can make sure that they are only working with websites that match their values and business objectives. ListHub provides tools, like the Channel Scorecard and the Preferred Publisher program, that allow brokers to make informed decisions about where to distribute their listings online. Needless to say, lots of busy brokers don't have the time to research and read descriptions of every website out there. That's where the MLS comes in. By taking the pulse of their broker customers, and then helping out with the time-consuming research across the network of publishers, they can determine which sites are the most likely to meet the standards their members have for "broker friendliness."
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Choosing Your Publishers Wisely
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To Syndicate or not to Syndicate, that is NOT the question!
This article is the first in a pair of two that we are running today on listing syndication. The second, by WAV Group, is a response to this article. How many times have you heard the pros and cons of listing syndication in the last five years, and the resulting question, "Should you or should you NOT syndicate?" More times than you care to remember, I am sure. Unfortunately, that is not the right question. 2013 is the year to begin to ask the right questions and to advance to the next phase in the distribution of listing data. It is time to move toward control, specific licensing and eventual monetization. Syndication is distribution. As it is currently deployed in the industry, syndication is the ability to conveniently distribute listing information to a multitude of destinations of choice, having only to enter the listing information once, into one data repository (your MLS). Speed, convenience, choice--who could ask for anything more? Syndication is an industry evolution, not an industry revolution. The first serious syndicator of listing data was REALTOR.com, which syndicated to AOL, Alta Vista, Lycos (remember Alta Vista and Lycos?), and a few other sites. REALTOR.com was "syndicating" listings in the 1990s. No one referred to REALTOR.com's distribution of MLS data as syndication at the time, but today, that is exactly what we would call it. Today, the concept and the benefits of having the ability to distribute your listing data through a single point of entry should be well understood. The questions for MLSs, associations, brokers, and agents to ask now, in 2013, are as follows.
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Monetizing Listing Data…Is it Possible? Let’s find out in 2013
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Is the MLS In Danger?
I do not really know Alain Pinel as well as I would like to. He sold the company that bears his name and pursued other interests. He is back now and runs the Luxury division of Intero Real Estate, one of Alain Pinel Real Estate's chief competitors in San Jose, along with Coldwell Banker and others. What I do know of Alain Pinel I like and respect a lot. I have a similar level of respect for the maverick efforts of Intero, who used passion combined with technology (AgentAchieve) to launch a powerful brokerage in a very competitive marketplace. In a blog post today, Alain Pinel asked – Is the MLS in Danger? He says: There are signs suggesting that the MLS is going through some mid-life crisis. [Non MLS transactions are] depriving most local REALTORS® of the ability to objectively judge values and trends. Listing agents who bring only a few of their peers in the loop, can nevertheless achieve the objective: the sale. They may even argue that the fact that they cooperate with only a few creates some urgency among the select group. We must respect the seller's decision to withhold a listing from the MLS. [The MLS] has its own agenda. You may wonder if the tail (the MLS) is not wagging the dog (the Broker). One thing is sure; the tail (The MLS) is now bigger than the dog (the Broker). Many brokers think that the MLS is now eating their soup, somewhat competing with their business, and too zealous regarding new constraining rules. MLSs which offer all their members a vast menu of state-of-the-art apps which compete with similar services that the finest companies created, at great cost, to differentiate themselves from other brokers. More and more syndicated sites and real estate related service providers, which feed off of the MLS, progressively divert the consumer from our sites to theirs and capture value-pieces of our business.
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Zillow Front Door: Are my listings going everywhere?
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Metrics: The Secret to Your Online Effectiveness
Tracking the effectiveness of your listings online is crucial to your agents'--and your brokerage's--success. At least, that is, according to ListHub. Hundreds of brokers joined the listing syndication platform's recent State of the Union "meganar" for marketing statistics and tips, and for a look back at 2012. As revealed by NAR's 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the internet is becoming ever more important to capturing real estate consumers. Ninety percent of consumers use the internet during the home search process, with 47 percent of those purchasing a home they found online. But that's no surprise. What's more interesting is ListHub's use of first time buyer statistics as market indicators. In 2010, a full 50 percent of all buyers were first time purchasers, up from the norm of just 40 percent. ListHub postulates that while the first time homebuyer's tax credit may have played a part in the change, it's more likely that those that already owned homes were keeping their properties off the market, worried that they'd take a price hit in the shaky hit. In 2012, however, those numbers returned to their usual levels, indicating a return of seller confidence. With the market is picking up steam again, ListHub offered advice on how can maximize the success of their online marketing efforts. Click through to the next page for tips and to view the full recording of the webinar.
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Sure You Can Aggregate It, But Can You Distribute It?
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Are You Helping Third Party Listing Sites Outrank You? [Infographic]
Mortgage calculators. Home value estimators. Maps (and more). They seem like harmless widgets that add value to your site. But if you get these widgets from third party listing sites like Zillow and Trulia, you may be hurting instead of helping your real estate website. How? According to a new infographic by RealGeeks, by installing these widgets, you're helping third party sites outrank you in search engines. Each of these widgets contains a link back to either Zillow or Trulia, with anchor text targeted to your local area. While one simple link may not seem like much, when multiplied by the thousands of widgets in use by unsuspecting agents, you have an army of potent backlinks that add to Zillow and Trulia's SEO and detract from yours. To learn more about these widgets and view the infographic, click through to the next page.
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Listhub expands publisher filtering
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Point2 encourages publishers to play nice
Yardi subsidiary Point2 is changing its data distribution policies to align with what it believes to be the interests of MLSs, associations, brokers and agents in the US, similar to what it has introduced in Canada with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Since Yardi purchased Point2, they have renewed determination to protect the data rights of agents, brokers, and their partner associations of REALTORS® and MLSs. In the past, the default distribution setting for Point2 has been broker-opt out rather than broker opt-in. WAV Group has never been in favor of broker opt-out programs. Broker opt-out means that unless notified by the listing broker, Point2 distributed the listing data to all of its publisher recipients. The big problem with this policy is that the broker was subject to the publisher's terms of use for the data, which might be contrary to the best interest of the broker. For many brokers, the portal's terms of use are fair – but for others, they are not. Point2 is now in the process of notifying publishers that they must conform to a set of fair use terms if they want the convenience of broker opt-out data. If they do not conform to the new terms, the data to that publisher will be switched to opt-in. As of January 1, 2013, any publisher not conforming to the new agreement will see somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million listings taken out of their Point2 feed.
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How MLSs and MLS Vendors are Failing Brokers
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ListHub’s API and Golden Ruler Report Helps a Broker
There are all kinds of reasons why a company wants analytics on the performance of their online marketing. Listhub provides this service to brokerages that use their syndication services. The fee for the service is typically just a few dollars per month per agent, but it will track where your listings appear online – for better or for worse. WAV Group has gained an appreciation for the reporting by reviewing MLS level reports that show a federated view of all listings syndicated in the market through Listhub. I will be using these reports in my upcoming talk at the Colorado Association of REALTORS® meetings. They are far more valuable than the small fee charged by Listhub. They inform great decisions about where to send your data, and the effects of online marketing (if any). Listhub offers their syndication services through franchises – REALOGY, Keller Williams and others have deployed the service. Brookfield uses reDataVault from Real Estate Digital (RED). The Canadian Association of REALTORS® or CREA uses Point2. Here is what I have noticed. For brokers who are part of a franchise, there are usually preferences to the way that a broker's listing is displayed. For example, Century 21 brokers syndicating through the franchise program benefit from not having competitors displayed on their listings, among other privileges like discounts on enhanced listings. For Century 21 Brokers, the Golden Ruler Report is free.
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Product Review: Listings 360°insight Advisor for Brokers
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Contagion is a New Word for Brokers
If you spent much time around me, you would know that I get attached to words like "curate" and use them so frequently that it annoys the good people who are around me every day. I am working on that. I have been a student of the effort to develop, to launch, and to save the Euro. A currency sharing standard among nations is more serious, and more important than a data sharing standard. However, in many ways, real estate data sharing standards are analogous. I love some of the terminology used by economists and leaders to talk about the Euro. One word that hit my radar today is "contagion." Contagion Spread of a disease by physical contact Harmful influence Spread of feeling Contagion, in the context of the Euro, relates to how currency management by some currency sharing countries like Greece, Spain, or France may pass along a detrimental virus to other currency sharing countries, like Germany. Contagion, in the context of real estate data, may relate to how data sharing standards by some brokers may spread a detrimental virus to other brokers.
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Three Secrets Third-Party Aggregators Don’t Want Brokers to Know
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Product Review: ListHub for Brokers
While the debate swirls around listing syndication, one of the things that shouldn't get lost in the noise is the importance of choosing the right listing syndication technology provider. Each technology company offering listing syndication tools has a slightly different approach, and can achieve very different results. The key to making listing syndication "work" for your brokerage just might be to find a technology solution that matches your objectives. First, you need to become knowledgeable about your options. ListHub is one of the leading listing syndication innovators in the real estate space today. Their focus is on offering advanced tracking and reporting tools to brokers, empowering them to make better syndication choices and improve outcomes for themselves and their sellers. Other companies, such as Point2 and Real Estate Digital, also have solutions that you can consider during your research. However, our review today is focused solely on ListHub, a pioneer of listing syndication services to brokers. Key Features Before we dig into the play-by-play of what we saw during our ListHub tour, let's go over some of the key features: Most of what we will cover in this review is free. Setting-up your brokerage and syndicating your listings with ListHub is entirely without charge. Only when you add in reports and other tools do fees come into play. For details on enhanced syndication features, reports, and tools that come at a price, we recommend you contact ListHub directly. ListHub Seller Reports is one premium product that allows brokers and agents to communicate marketing efforts to seller clients. For instance, Seller Reports clearly demonstrate to clients where their listings are appearing online, how many times the property detail page was viewed, and how many leads were generated. These reports can even aid in conversations about price changes or open houses (by revealing that leads and traffic have dropped off, for example). We'll look at these reports more closely a little later on.
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IDX makes sense for brokers, even those who won't syndicate
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Edina Realty and Broker Syndication Choices
The news of Edina Realty pulling their listings from REALTOR.com have been rippling through the industry since it was announced. There are probably a small handful of brokers who have done the same, but that is about it. This became newsworthy because Edina Realty is a big broker – really big. Moreover, the parent company, Home Services of America is second only to NRT in terms of being the largest brokerage in America. NRT has about 750 offices and 250,000 sides. Home Services has about 300 offices and does about 125,000 sides. There is a lot at stake for syndication and online advertising if Edina realizes business growth as a result of their decision. Edina Realty is a smart company. This was not an emotional decision, but the result of intense and calculated strategic development. They have researched the opportunities and risks carefully and will measure impact to many facets of their business.
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Are Your Presentations iPad Friendly? Why REALTORS Are Embracing Tablet Technology
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Howard Hanna Syndication Announcement
Another shoe is going to drop today. Howard Hanna, one of America’s largest brokerages will announce their new listing syndication strategy. This is an important announcement because it brings forth a new chapter to the ongoing saga of finding an online advertising paradigm that balances the broker’s needs with the publisher’s needs, in the best possible way. Howard Hanna has spend the past 15 – 18 months studying. They study their website. They study the website of similar size brokerages. They have studied publisher websites. They became experts. Howard Hanna has been testing. Howard Hanna ran lots of experiments with syndication. Turning sites on. Turning sites off. Turning listing enhancement on, and off. They made note of the results. Howard Hanna has modified the data feed in multiple ways too. They reduced and increased the number of photos in the feed. Make changes to the property description text to include agent contact information. They explored and they innovated. Howard Hanna convened focus groups with consumers and agents. They listened. They gained a deep understanding of their customers’ attitudes, wants, and goals.
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To Syndicate or Not To Syndicate, That Is The Question
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On Compensation for Listing Data
Jay Thompson provides this perspective on the latest news about listing syndication: I’ve read (and participated in) many discussions about ARG Abbott Realty Group pulling their listings from national syndication sites over the past 24 hours. A recurring theme keeps coming up. It is another point the “anti-syndication” crowd tends to rally around, and another point I don’t understand. “Agents and brokers deserve compensation for their listing data.” “In the information age, Agent’s listings data are Valuable, and they need compensation for it.” “That listing data is valuable. They should pay us for it!” Syndication sites take listing data “without compensation to the brokers, agents, photographers and videographers who create, pay for and own the content.”
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How Listhub’s Real Estate Network Works
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MOVE Launches the Real Estate Network for Franchises
Franchise Networks have taken the first step to declare their independence from the MLS rules and regulations, and third party listing websites. Today MOVE, operators of REALTOR.com and the Listhub listing syndication network, announced that they have created a data sharing solution called the Real Estate Network. Participants in the network include the two largest REALOGY networks of Century 21 and Coldwell Banker along with Realty Executives and RE/MAX. Under the terms of the agreement, the four participating Franchise Organizations will reciprocate in a listing data share of property listings for public display on each other’s franchise websites. New Century 21 CEO, Rick Davidson sent an email to all Century 21 brokerages yesterday ushering in what he calls “the next step in the evolution of our listings distribution strategy.” The press release from MOVE indicates that the Franchise Organizations have come to mutual terms on a standard display of listings. Details about the standard have been released on the Listhub website (http://www.listhub.net/networkrules.html). MOVE indicated that the rules were “to ensure that brokers’ interests will be preserved and facilitate a level playing field by the participants.”
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The Realities of Working with MLS Data
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Zillow’s IPO: Reflections on Day 1
Zillow's IPO (initial public offering) has been big news. Under the ticker symbol "Z," the stock began trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Wednesday morning. The pre-opening share price was $20, yet when it hit the market, the shares quickly soared to $60. By the end of the day, however, those sky-high values had plummeted back down to $35.77. What does this roller coaster mean for investors? What is the future of Zillow stock? One thing is for sure: Zillow has crossed the chasm. They took a brilliant idea (offering consumers price opinions on their property value), coupled it to every property in America, and mixed in 90% of the active listings. The result was a sensation. They have had great success monetizing the site's traffic (Yahoo!/Zillow combined traffic of just under 50 million a month) with advertising, as well as a plethora of unique agent and broker marketing services. Given the level of funding in the bank, Zillow should be able to shore up retention of key employees and continue to invest in their next stage of product development.
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A Closer Look at reDataVault by LPS
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Midyear Recap: RPPSI, Listings on Social Media, and the Franchisor IDX Policy (and Why I Will Opt In)
Fair warning: Long post ahead… Three days of mid-May were spent in Washington, D.C. attending the 2011 REALTOR® Midyear Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo (more commonly referred to as simply “Midyear”). This promised to be a lively event as there were some major issues on the table: RPPSI, “Franchisor IDX” and “Display of listings via RSS and Social Media.” Thoughts on RPPSI “RPPSI” the “REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative” was hotly debated prior to Midyear. The overwhelming sentiment online seemed to me to be against this initiative and its $40 dues increase. Today, however, the NAR Board of Directors “overwhelmingly approved” the initiative and dues increase. This is exactly what I thought would happen when I wrote, Op-Ed: The REALTOR® Party. NAR Proposes the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.
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Useful Listing Syndication Terms Learned at Mid-Year
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Are Your Listing Descriptions Designed to Capture?
We’re living in an industry where indexable MLS listings – those that are visible to the search engines – are becoming frequently more common. So I feel that it’s important to bring up the value of optimizing personal listings to maximize on this opportunity. I was recently looking at the details of a real estate agent's personal listing and noticed the description contained a lot of abbreviations and agent jargon and thought that it was a shame that she had not written a better description for the prospective homebuyer and the search engines. The description listed the bedrooms in an abbreviated format and ran abbreviations together so it wasn’t easy to read, and even though the search engines are very good at picking up on words, the details were pretty much an undecipherable jumble. Maybe agents don’t realize the value of an indexable IDX or how using a technology that allows listings to be indexed can bring search engine traffic… and, therefore, transactions! Even if you don’t use an indexable real estate technology as an individual, writing a meticulous detail page will help you to market your clients’ homes to the utmost advantage on the Internet.  
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Have You Fallen into the Trap of Listing Syndication?
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Listing SIN-dication
Guest Contributor Bill Rovillo says: I believe the REALTOR'S® biggest blunder was welcoming listing syndication with open arms. This sad situation started shortly after the advent of the Internet. Big brokers watched this new medium with amazement and wondered how it would fit into their marketing and sales plans for the future. They imagined being able to have all their listings on the Web, with stats and tax data and all kinds of graphs and sales predictions; things that make you go "ooohhh."
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The Real Goal of RPR and CoreLogic
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Listing Syndication - Who's Cited as the Source?
When property listings are syndicated to the major real estate portals, the portals often give credit (a citation) to the person or organization that supplied the listing. You’ve probably seen listing search results pages that look like this:  
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