ListHub’s API and Golden Ruler Report Helps a Broker

by Victor Lund on October 5, 2012

There are all kinds of reasons why a company wants analytics on the performance of their online marketing. Listhub provides this service to brokerages that use their syndication services. The fee for the service is typically just a few dollars per month per agent, but it will track where your listings appear online – for better or for worse.

WAV Group has gained an appreciation for the reporting by reviewing MLS level reports that show a federated view of all listings syndicated in the market through Listhub. I will be using these reports in my upcoming talk at the Colorado Association of REALTORS® meetings. They are far more valuable than the small fee charged by Listhub. They inform great decisions about where to send your data, and the effects of online marketing (if any).

Listhub offers their syndication services through Franchises – REALOGY, Keller Williams and others have deployed the service. Brookfield uses reDataVault from Real Estate Digital (RED). The Canadian Association of REALTORS® or CREA uses Point2. Here is what I have noticed. For brokers who are part of a Franchise, there are usually preferences to the way that a broker’s listing is displayed. For example, Century 21 Brokers syndicating through the franchise program benefit from not having competitors displayed on their listings, among other privileges like discounts on enhanced listings. For Century 21 Brokers, the Golden Ruler Report is free.

Unfortunately, none of these solutions track listings everywhere. For example, the report does not include the number of times a listing was viewed in the MLS, or on another broker’s website, or on the newspaper’s website, or even on the broker’s own website. Listhub and others like Onboard 360 are offering APIs that can be installed on any website. Century 21 Hometown Realty wanted to make the Golden Ruler Report better, so they installed the Listhub API on their Wolfnet website.

It is not easy to get a company to put someone else’s code into their product. The Listhub API is a little code snippet that works a little bit like Google Analytics. Every time you ask a website to do something, it adds one more task that slows a website down. Furthermore, there is some remote chance that they can bring the site or even the server down. Let;s just say that Wolfnet did a lot of diligence and testing before they put the Listhub API on the broker website. It passed their Quality Assurance test.

Century 21 Hometown Realty has about 300 of the 1200 residential listings in one of their markets. That is a significant share of listings. The company also gets more than 250,000 listing views a month. Presumably, 25% of them would be tracked as listing views in the Golden Ruler Report. After the first week, the Golden Ruler report showed fewer than 1000 listing views – but Google Analytics suggested they should show around 15,000. Even Hitwise ranks the site in the top 5 real estate websites in their DMA – slugging it out with Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow. Something was broken, and we had to figure it out so the Golden Ruler Report would have the value they were looking for.

In the past month, Zillow was the leader in Property Views with 36,000. Trulia is immediately behind them with 33,000 REALTOR.com with 29,000, homes.com with 22,400, and 12,000 on Century21.com. The report should show that the broker website has between 40,000 and 60,000 views of company listings. This is a huge selling advantage in listing presentations, and in recruiting. They have more buyers looking at homes for sale than the big brands.

We found the problem, and it is not one that Century 21 Hometown Realty is proud of. The data being loaded into the REALOGY Century 21 CREST data management system was wrong. The office staff were making mistakes. As it turns out, the Listhub API matches two data points for counting property views – MLS number and Zip Code. If those two data points do not match, the listing does not get counted. This would not be a problem if the MLS provided the listing feed to the Franchise, but in this case, the brokerage manually enters the listing. The brokerage put all hands on deck to fix the data.

Here is what we learned. Data Analytics help you solve problems in your business, but only if you pay attention and only if you respond to problems.

Here is what I know. When the 350 Century 21 Hometown Realty Agents hit the street with the Golden Ruler Report showing that they have more home buyers looking at property on their website than any other real estate website including Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Homes.com – they will get more listings. Lookout below. Kudos for Century 21 making that report available to all of their brokerages.

Here is another thing I know. More listings are viewed on MLS, Franchise, Broker and Agent websites than on the big portal sites. Kudos for leaders like MRIS and MRED who are exploring efforts to count every property view everywhere. They have the strong support of their Brokers and their Board of Directors. That helps a lot. It will require them to change every data license agreement – and that will take time – but the outcome will be awesome.

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