Category Archives: MLS

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

The case for a small, local MLS

I literally grew up with MLS books. My relationship with them started when they were re-tasked as a booster seat by my mother. One of my most prized real estate memorabilia is an MLS book from the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service. While I don’t know if it continues to be published today, my copy is from October 27th, 2011… Yes, 2011. For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume they still publish it.

mlsbookWhen most REALTORS® see my copy of this MLS book, their reaction is to make an immediate judgement that the Greenwich MLS is a dinosaur. I have the exact opposite opinion. While GAR serves its 1000 members online, they continue to provide services like the listing book because, quite simply, that’s what their members want. MLSs are not technology companies. They are member organizations.

I think it’s important to step back and think about what an MLS’s highest value proposition to its members is. My friend Bill Lublin explained it well in this post: Continue reading

Does owning the listing entitle you to “own” the address in Google?

My friend Bill Lublin wrote a great post this morning calling on MLS’s to adopt Google’s author tags to help identify the true owner of a real estate listing. First off, let me say that I’m 100% for this. However, being the broker of record for a listing doesn’t necessarily make you the best place for Google to send its users to.

Google’s perspective

webresultsThere’s a mid-century modern home in Denver that I absolutely love. According to Trulia, the property was purchased in May of last year. The new owners are renovating the home and building an addition. They created a blog about the property to document the renovation. The house is nearing completion and I assume you’ll find a listing in the MLS before too long. If you Google the address today, you’ll find search results that include this blog and pages that portal sites like Zillow and Trulia have created for off-market property. Very few brokers have a content strategy in place to rank for off market property and because of this, are ultimately losing the SEO race. Google looks for trusted resources that provide a long history of updated information about a search term. The fact that a home is for sale is a very temporary thing. It’s important, and Google recognizes that, but those reliable trusted sources still deserve a lot of credit, and they receive it. Continue reading

If Trulia and Zillow wanted to start fixing their data quality problems today…

It’s been half a year since Redfin released a study that found about 36 percent of the listings shown as active on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale in the local MLS. While I don’t view the MLS as the only source of listings in a market, and wonder if the markets chosen for the study weren’t cherry picked, the fact of the matter is, Zillow and Trulia have big data problems.

weedsZ&T’s PR teams have expressed their commitment to improving their data accuracy, but their progress appears to be at a snail’s pace. This winter, Trulia announced a new framework that allows them to update direct MLS feeds every ten minutes. MLS data really isn’t the biggest of their problems, but the framework would make MLS data a little more timely. Trulia hasn’t announced a new MLS data partnership in more than six months on their industry blog, so I would assume their data issues have no more than marginally unimproved since the Redfin study. Zillow’s made a big push to secure direct data agreements with big brokers, but like MLSs, big brokers are not the primary source of bad data. These brokers were probably already sending their listing data through a reliable syndicator like ListHub or their MLS. Continue reading