How NAR and Google can partner to build a member-centric real estate “portal”

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.

outside the boxMany members want a national website that allows a listing agent to post their listings without  ads from competing agents. NAR could pull this off, but it will be really tricky.

NAR currently has a partnership with Move Inc to operate I think the partnership is a fair deal. REALTORS® get to publish their listings on 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 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, 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

5 thoughts on “How NAR and Google can partner to build a member-centric real estate “portal”

  1. Nick Bastian

    OK, great… Send the listings to the broker.
    I’m not sure how that helps the agents that bust their ass with their owns sites, it just creates another place for them to compete for top placements.
    Most brokerage sites are terrible, sending a “good” link to them “might” be helpful to them. Might.
    So many variables to all of this stuff, it kind of makes my head spin.
    Looking forward to the “crazy ideas” series, for sure. 🙂

    1. Todd Carpenter Post author


      If this idea ever became a reality, I imagine some brokers would want all the traffic to go to the broker site, and some brokers would offer the traffic to their agent’s web pages. It would simply be a matter of business model. Brokers own the data, but they still have to serve their agent’s needs.

  2. Becki Saltzman

    Excellent and not so crazy. Once Realtors embrace the incredible value of what you get for free transforming and catapulting what you get paid, a portal that is Realtor/agent/broker-centric can become a portal that is also client-centric. Once that happens (and someone will do it) the only thing that I disagree with in your excellent post is the word “small” in your statement: Move, Trulia and Zillow take a very small hit.


Leave a Reply to Nick Bastian Cancel reply