File this under crazy ideas that Todd came up with that are full of risk and not likely to happen.
According to Dale Stinton, NAR’s leadership is ready to “get in trouble“. That’s great news. Here’s a way to get started.
NAR currently has a partnership with Move Inc to operate REALTOR.com. I think the partnership is a fair deal. REALTORS® get to publish their listings on REALTOR.com for free. Move funds the site by charging for premium or competing advertising on the site. However, this isn’t good enough for members who essentially want an ad-free platform. The REALTOR.com operating agreement is evergreen and includes non-compete language. Changing the agreement is difficult, and going around it is even harder.
On top of that, many brokers are uncomfortable with the idea of yet another real estate portal. They don’t like the idea of local MLS’s running them. They’d probably be even more opposed to one that’s hosted by NAR.
So how do you build a national “portal” that’s not REALTOR.com, or a new competitor, and still serves the brokers who own the listings? Ask Google for help. Gahlord Dewald has done a great job of building an argument for canonical and authorship tags for real estate. While I agree with Gahlord’s cause, I have my doubts that it will have a significant impact on search results for brokers. However, if NAR and Google worked together, they could kill two birds with one stone (or maybe three…)
Here’s how my idea would work.
- MLSs provide a RETS feed of the broker’s own listings back to the broker.
- Brokers populate the listing on their own site, then generate a RETS feed that links back to their site.
- Brokers submit their feed with a national registry of public real estate listings, hosted by the National Association of REALTORS®.
- The resulting aggregate of feeds is then provided to Google by NAR.
- Google uses the data to populate listings in their maps, searches, and Google Now. Google already accepts similar data from Zillow, but we all know that MLS data is more accurate. If anything, this REALTOR® data should be able to trump what Zillow provides.
- When consumers click on the listings on Google, they are sent directly to the broker’s web page.
There is no portal, just search results that send consumers to the source of the listing data.
Ta da! NAR now has a better ‘Lion Over The Hill’ solution for their members.
The MLSs further solidify themselves as the source of quality real estate data without giving up any of their anonymity. Brokers get the attribution in Google that they deserve. Google gets to fully integrate accurate listing data into their search services, including their new maps.
Move, Zillow and Trulia take a very small hit. There is no new competing portal. Instead, they just share SERPs in Google with brokers who provide the listings.
Ultimately, I think the idea might be too radical to work. But if NAR is really ready to “get into trouble,” than this is the kind of radical approach that they’ll need to consider. But, hey, this is just a crazy idea from a former NAR troublemaker, what are your thoughts?
Photo: Creative Commons license via Flickr user nerissa’s ring