February 15, 2012
UltimateIDX share their views on the MLS listing syndication war developing between MLS Boards and aggregators such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com in several major markets including Denver’s MetroList and their recent dropping of Diverse Solutions:
If you check almost any major market in Google you will find sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia dominate the majority of the Top 10 slots for all major real estate search phrases.
Many Realtors that are competing for these search engine rankings are unknowingly feeding these mega aggregator sites they compete with by furnishing them listings and populating them with more content.
Let’s keep it real. “Content is King” and it is difficult for a local Brokerage to compete with National Real Estate aggregator sites. Major parts of the major Search Engine algorithms are; content (number of pages), visitors, pages viewed and time on the website. So it is almost impossible for “Mom/Pop” Brokerages to compete with National aggregator websites with hundreds of thousands of pages and collective SEO scores from all markets of page views, visits and time on site.
I am a former Real Estate Broker. I come from a family of Realtors. I understand what it takes to solicit listings and then do the workup, measurements, photos and all the required paperwork. So I find it repulsive that I would do all this work, give it away to websites that I compete with and in some cases be charged for any leads that may be generated from it.
Aggregators/Syndicators really need to go by the wayside just as the old monthly/quarterly MLS Books (and the Dinosaurs) did back in the day. Option 2: change their business model into a revenue sharing venue with the Agents that feed their websites.
Option 2 is highly unlikely. However in my proposed scenario instead of Realtor.com receiving fees for furnishing listing data (provided by Agents) to aggregators/syndicators without cost, they would pay the contributing Agents on a per listing basis.
Additionally all aggregators/syndicators should be held to the same rules by the Local MLS Boards that their Members are for display of data (listings) owned by the Local MLS Boards.
In any war there are casualties. Innocents are unwillingly swept into conflicts as collateral damage and the MLS listing syndication war is no different. As for the Diverse Solutions/Zillow situation with Denver’s MetroList I really do empathize with the MetroList Members that use Diverse Solutions. And I will be the first to admit that Diverse Solutions is a class act.
A lot of hard work and money goes and into real estate websites and changing IDX vendors creates more expense and work at a time when many Realtors are already in distress. However, I do understand the decision made by MetroList and believe it to be in the best interest of all of their Members.
However, there has been a lot of anger directed towards MetroList over severing ties with Diverse Solutions. This anger would be better directed at Diverse Solutions in my humble opinion. If they were looking for a buyer they should have known that selling to an aggregate such as Zillow would be controversial.
We need not shed tears for Zillow inasmuch as their intentions when purchasing Diverse Solutions were relatively transparent.
Yes it is extremely unfortunate that some Denver MetroList (recolorado) Members have been victimized but they were not done so by MetroList.
The truth is Realtors are currently acting as busy little Bees for these gigantic aggregators for very little in return. It really is time to rethink syndication and keep it local within and under the watch and rules of the Local MLS Boards.
NOTE: Portions of this post were submitted as comments on 2 different blogs that were not approved so it developed into a post here.
About the author: SEOWolf
K.M “Mack” McMillan comes from a family of REALTORS® and was a Broker himself for 14+ years. Mack built one of the 1st real estate websites in 1994 which helped his family run Agency become the most successful Brokerage in south central Missouri. As the original founder of the UltimateIDX in 2000, Mack continues to serve the real estate community and maintains an advisory role in UltimateIDX.
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