Category Archives: Crazy Ideas

Three ways MLSes can leverage Trulia and Zillow.

Fact: most listing agents choose maximum exposure for their listings and publish them to the nation’s largest real estate portals. Maybe these agents love the portals. Maybe they hate them. But overwhelmingly, they choose to work with them.

Today, most MLSes that choose to promote syndication as a value added service are basically farming it out to ListHub or Point2. Both syndicators provide a dashboard to help brokers opt-in/opt-out of syndication (most brokerdirects opt-in for every listing) and then handle the transfer of data to publishers multiple times a day. This service is free to the MLS, and very reliable, so many MLSes are hesitant to syndicate directly to Zillow, Trulia, etc.

I think that for many MLSes, they are missing out on a good opportunity. These syndication services are free, but remember if you’re not paying for it; you’re the product.

ListHub requires that Zillow, Trulia, Homes and realtor.com (which is owned by the same company that owns ListHub) provide reporting data on the performance of each listing that it then compiles and sells back to MLS participants. Why not ask the portals to give you this data directly (in exchange for a direct, opt-in listing feed) and then sell the reports yourself? ListHub has already done the heavy lifting of requiring all the publishers to report the data in the same format, so just use their data-set. I imagine that Trulia and Zillow might even help you set that up if you made it a condition of direct syndication.

In addition to reporting, MLSes have the opportunity to drive traffic from publishers, to the MLS’s own public facing web site. For instance, Trulia links to the “listing source” for every listing they publish. Most of the time, the listing agent has provided enough information for Trulia to link to the broker’s website. However, when no other URL is available they link to pages set up by the feed provider. ListHub receives these links in most cases, but they could be going to your MLS.

Finally, there’s another missed opportunity that might go in the crazy ideas folder, but still deserves consideration. Make Trulia or Zillow one of your technology providers. You know who builds awesome real estate websites and mobile apps? Those guys. Zillow is already willing to build real estate search sites for agents on the cheap, I bet Zillow, Homes, or Trulia could build one heck of an awesome MLS site (or mobile app) for you. They may even do it for free if you’re willing to deliver listings direct.

Crazy? Maybe. But while Zillow and Trulia aren’t about to pay for listings, they really, really don’t want to be so dependent on syndicators like Point2 and ListHub. Going direct doesn’t have to mean you are giving it all away. Let me know if you’d like learn more about the pros and cons of direct listing syndication.

Photo: Creative Commons license via Flickr user gabriel amadeus

REALTOR.com Redux: The Brainstorm

In less than two months, the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors will meet in private to talk about the future of REALTOR.com. As I documented in my special report, Zillow and Trulia have made significant gains over the last five years and now outrank realtor.com in unique monthly traffic. Both NAR and Move Inc want to put Realtor.com back in the lead, but it won’t be easy. They have unique challenges that they need to overcome.

imagineJust because the board is meeting in private, doesn’t mean we can’t brainstorm about REALTOR.com’s future in public. I hope you will consider adding your own ideas in the comments, or write a blog post and I’ll link to it. Let’s have a conversation about taking back REALTOR.com and upgrading it to compete with Zillow and Trulia.

I’ll start with a few ideas.

Idea 1: Use the Consumer Advertising Campaign to fund premium listings.

Continue reading

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 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. Continue reading

How Zillow and Trulia can disrupt their IDX competition

File this under crazy ideas that Todd came up with that are full of risk and not likely to happen. It’s just a brainstorm. Hear me out.

disruptionIt’s no secret that one of the few advantages that companies with IDX powered real estate search sites have over Zillow and Trulia is superior MLS sourced listing coverage. In virtually every market, brokers have to opt in to syndication before Zillow and Trulia can display their listings. In most markets, broker listings are automatically included in IDX, with an option of opting out. As a result, IDX feeds are more complete than syndication feeds. There’s a third feed. It’s a VOW feed. This is a complete set of MLS listings that every broker is entitled to. The only stipulation is that it needs to reside behind a registration wall. Zillow and Trulia spend a lot of time trying to convince more brokers to opt into syndication, but the other option is to convince brokers to opt out of IDX. Continue reading