MLS Listing Syndication War Rages

UltimateIDX share their views on the MLS listing syndication war developing between MLS Boards and aggregators such as Zillow, Trulia and 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, 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.

Time to Move On or Change Business Model

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 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.

MetroList Drops Diverse Solutions

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 aggregator 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 Members have been victimized but they were not done so by MetroList.

Keeping it Real

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.

Avatar for SEOWolf

About the Author:

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.


  1. Avatar for Jay
    Jay  March 22, 2012

    You are absolutely right. These guys have been doing this for years. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. I bet it will end up like what happened to Google when they were scraping info off sites for Google Places.

    • Avatar for TheSEOWolf
      TheSEOWolf  April 1, 2012

      Jay: It is imperative that our Local MLS Boards either
      disallow these aggregators/syndicators to display listings or at the very least
      require them to follow the SAME rules as the Agents that originated the
      listing. Our Local Boards can control this! And where in the hell is NAR???

  2. Avatar for Sam DeBord,
    Sam DeBord,  March 31, 2012

    Mack, well put.  This is the point that so many arguments miss.  Syndication continues to increase the syndication sites’ power, at the expense of brokers’ sites.  These agents are literally feeding their competitors’ growth with their own efforts.

    I wrote a similar post for Inman News recently.  I think it flies over most agents’ heads as they’re just too busy selling homes to look at the long-term business strategy.  Unfortunately, they’re giving their strategic position away with every listing.

    • Avatar for TheSEOWolf
      TheSEOWolf  April 1, 2012

      You are dead on Sam.

      Sam I see Agents every day use the spill that if a Seller
      lists their property with them that the listing will be displayed by numerous nationally
      syndicated websites. What they don’t tell the Seller (or don’t understand) is
      that the listing will be displayed improperly among tens of thousands of expired
      and sold listings and has little chance of being displayed. If their listing is
      displayed the Agent that is contacted will be slammed with a list by the Buyer of
      dozens of expired or sold listings in addition to theirs. When the Agent attempts
      to explain to the Buyer that the bulk of the listings of interest are no longer
      available the Buyer becomes suspicious and the Agent loses credibility.

      Agents are feeding their competition by supplying these
      listings to these gigantic syndicators and driving their own personal website
      rankings down in the process. This is a “Lose – Lose” proposition for Agents.

      Keep your listings local. Your Local MLS Board is the BEST
      method of syndication IMHO.

    • Avatar for Don and Amy Jengo
      Don and Amy Jengo  April 13, 2017

      We have seen sites list our contact information and listings. Worse is the sites that sell our seller leads for a referral as if they generated the lead. We have worked hard to produce our market share and see NO value in ANY of these companies selling our own leads back to us.. Please start the movement to stop syndication. We do not need Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor .com…

  3. Avatar for Vlafiura
    Vlafiura  April 20, 2012

    I completely agree with ARG and there position with sharing brokers Mls Listings Here in Toronto we are beginning to see the same activity with sites like Zoocasa come in and attempt to steal data, I work hard to promote and serve my clients when selling Toronto Real Estate

  4. Avatar for Petra
    Petra  November 10, 2014

    Unfortunately this issue is only getting worse. More than two years after this post and zillow is still going strong. I hear so many agents in my area talk about how they are getting leads from zillow and constantly seeking out zillow reviews. It’s frustrating as an individual agent to have to compete with these large companies that aren’t even local.

  5. Avatar for Pete
    Pete  September 4, 2015

    Great article, but you are the highest priced IDX that I have found! Seems somehow hypocritical to me! This whole IDX subscription thing really sucks!!!!!!!!!!!


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