zillow

Two Brokers Go YouTube on Syndicaiton

by Victor Lund on May 3, 2012

ListingSyndicationsmall

Listing Syndication has become one of the more polarizing business topics in the real estate industry. Everyone seems to have a view, and many groups are trying to figure out how to fix it. There is no doubt that some companies are benefiting from syndication, but most find only little or moderate success. We seem to be hitting an inflection point with syndication where a lot of change is about to happen – slowly I suspect – like all real estate trends. The Council of MLS published two surveys this week – one for consumers and another for professionals. They are trying to understand if a prominently displayed MLS logo of some form will be beneficial to provide some assurances on listing quality. WAV Group is providing the survey service to CMLS complimentary. If you want to promote the survey on your public site (consumer) or send it to your agents and brokers (professional), contact Marilyn Wilson from the WAV Group(below) or Sarah Carton at CMLS for the link. Brokers are not banding together, but they are making changes to their syndication strategy in some significant ways. Shorewest and Edina – two of the top 25 largest brokerages in America have turned off syndication. Today, two smaller brokers – The Goodlife Team in Austin, TX and ARG Realty in San Diego, CA released these videos about their own decision to pull their listings out of syndication. Here is the ARG Video ARG YouTube Video Here is The Goodlife Team Video The Goodlife Team Video   In contrast, one of America’s largest brokers – Hoby Hanna of Howard Hanna made a huge investment in syndication and went all in. Here is story with this YouTube Video. He has also recently found out that you can now buy viewers on youtube, which helps grow your channel. Hoby Hanna speaks about syndicaiton

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REALTOR.Com Shoots across bow of Trulia and Zillow

by Victor Lund on April 23, 2012

prices you can trust

The industry knows the dirty little secret. Many third party listing websites are full of garbage data. In a major online marketing effort, REALTOR.com is telling this story. Inaccurate listings are not appearing here and there, but more than half the “for sale” listings on many sites populated from syndication are duplicates, already sold, expired, pending, or bank owned homes that are not for sale at all. Bad real estate listing information is bad for the real estate industry. So many of these sites claim to be consumer centric, but they blatantly and knowingly allow data to be fed to their websites that is known to be suspect for accuracy. The consumer blames agents and brokers for inaccurate data, not the publisher. It soils the reputation of REALTORS. In truth, brokers and agents are not curating their listings on these sites, so they are in part to blame. But the publishers are to blame too. They make it nearly impossible to remove a listing. As an industry, we know how to set policies for data accuracy. If that is a goal, it would be easy for third party sites to accomplish. Here is a very simple suggestion. Require agents or brokers to confirm a property’s accuracy if nothing has changed in 30 days. Require the user to verify that the information is correct. This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is integrity. Imagine the poor consumer who finds a home and wants to buy it. 50% of the time, they are likely to hear from a real estate agent that the home is not for sale. Oddly, some agents use this as a bait and switch ploy. Snag an actual buyer with “too good to be true” listings that are not real, and convert them to a buyer representation agreement. Sounds shady, but it is happening. It’s rare. What happens more often is the agent does not even respond to the consumer when they see the listing address. How bad is the problem? If you care, run a search on a local broker or mls website. Then run the same search on a third party website. Look at the differences in listing count. Think about the consumer impression. A zip code search on a broker website may yield 100 results where it may yield 250 results on sites like Trulia or Zillow. The consumer impression is that […]

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Is the MLS responsible for the Syndication Mess?

by Marilyn Wilson on March 9, 2012

I give a lot of credit to the Council of MLS for their commitment to understanding the issues with listing syndication and formulating an effort to fix it. In the first place, the failure of many MLSs to understand listing syndication has been the cornerstone of the problems that exist today. Here is a little history lesson. In the beginning, only a few brokers with their own IT staff were able to supply a feed of their listings to publishers. When a broker has hundreds of listings or tens of thousands of listings like Howard Hanna, Prudential Fox and Roach and others, the concept of manually entering and updating listings on multiple websites was a daunting task. Automation was demanded to create function and efficiency. In most cases, the automation was already in place. For these big brokers, publishing to the newspaper every week was equally daunting, so that was already automated. The data was in the database but it just needed to be moved. One problem still remained and that was keeping the database accurate. Agents would often update the price and other information in the MLS, but not in the broker database. This too was solved by MLSs providing a data feed into the brokerage. At this point – all was good for big brokers, but small and mid-sized brokers were in need of help.

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zillow Logo

Zillow is smart. They are building their Board of Advisors with key decision makers in the industry. Zillow is well aware that franchises are contractually required to submit listings to the franchisor, and in most cases, the franchisor can syndicate listings whereever they want. The data feed from franchisors like REALOGY Brands, Keller Williams, and RE/MAX are vital for long term assurance of listing count on Zillow. This also demonstrates Zillow’s disposition to surround itself with stakeholders in their mutual success. It also may deflect some of the local broker’s choice in syndicating listings to publishers. Century 21 has a reporting and syndication solution called The Golden Ruler.™ My understanding is that the CENTURY 21 agent/broker can opt out individual listings from syndication, but not opt out all listings by turning it off. My understanding is that Coldwell Banker franchises are automatically included in some syndication like Zillow, but have choices on other syndication channels. My understanding is that ERA franchises have complete control over their listing syndication. Listing input is managed by a REALOGY tool called CREST. Listing syndication is managed by Listhub. These business rules change all of the time, so my understanding may not be current – but you can get a picture that all franchises have different rules. We spend an awful lot of time helping brokers understand how listings get to publisher websites, and the differences in rules applied to each feed. If a Century 21 franchise sends listings to Zillow today via the MLS listhub feed, or via a broker feed, or via a newspaper feed, or via a virtual tour feed, competing agents may be displayed on the listing unless the agent or broker “claims” the listing on Zillow or pays to enhance the listing. If the listing is provided by the REALOGY CREST feed powered by Listhub, only the REALOGY listing agent is displayed on the listing. This is a big benefit to brokers who feel strongly about agent representation on broker listings. The link also goes back to the Franchise website – which helps the Franchise but undermines the link back to the listing broker. There are many variables that are moving all of the time – its hard to keep up. Some industry leaders have indicated that REALOGY receives a revenue share when brokers enhance their listings on publisher website (WAV Group has not been able to confirm this rumor). Press Release […]

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MOVE launches the Real Estate Network for Franchises

by Victor Lund on January 11, 2012

Listhub logo

Franchise Networks have taken the first step to declare their independence from the MLS rules and regulations, and third party listing websites. Today MOVE, operators of REALTOR.com and the Listhub listing syndication network, announced that they have created a data sharing solution called the Real Estate Network. Participant in the network include the two largest REALOGY networks of Century 21 and Coldwell Banker along with Realty Executives and RE/MAX. Under the terms of the agreement, the four participating Franchise Organizations will reciprocate in a listing data share of property listings for public display each other’s franchise websites. New Century 21 CEO, Rick Davidson sent an email to all Century 21 brokerages yesterday ushering in what he calls “the next step in the evolution of our listings distribution strategy.”

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Smarter Agent throws arrow at Zillow and others

by Victor Lund on January 7, 2012

Smarter Agent

Brad Bloomberg of Smarter Agent is a fighter, and I like that. He takes a position and battles from his corner of the ring. Today, he released a blog post on their company website goes nose to nose with Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.com. Given that his company is suing them all for patent infringement (another story) – they will never be friends anyway. But this new war is one about his view of listing syndication. Post Title : Listing Aggregators like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com can Erode the Value of your Business. The money quote: ……(syndication) “devalues the business of.. a broker-owner.” I started to write an absurdly long response to the post – and thought it better to put them all here. These are my thoughts on syndication strategy today. They change all the time based upon the broker client we are advising – but this is the gut check response.

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Online Accuracy

A crazy phone call came my way today from a large third party listing website. It does not matter which one. The person was very concerned that the industry is on a mission to stop brokers and agents from syndicating listings to them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing listings is a fundamental obligation that the listing firm delivers as a service to the seller. Certainly online advertising is a component of fulfilling that obligation. WAV Group has been very outspoken about problems with listing syndication. We have done countless studies that measure the percentages of inaccuracies on publisher websites. To be clear, the inaccuracy is not the fault of the publisher. It is the fault of the advertiser (or listing agent). Garbage in, garbage out. We have reported on issues related to the Terms of Use of those websites (some of which have been changed in part from our criticisms). There is no reason why a listing broker should give unlimited commercial use and ownership of the data to the publisher when placing an ad. The use should be limited. There are other improvements that can be made to listing syndication to support brokers in their online publishing but the point of this is that data quality is the broker’s responsibility – not the publisher, not the MLS, not the syndication service. The broker is the custodian of the listing. They have a contract with the seller to market the property. That entails making an effort to provide the listing information to prospective buyers accurately. Here is a simple suggestion.

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Impacts of browser Geolocation technology on real estate

by Victor Lund on December 13, 2011

Real Estate brokers invest a lot of time and money into maintaining and sustaining a strong relocation business. Franchise Organizations and broker networks like Leading Real Estate Companies of the World connect brokers across the country. Advances in technology have enabled location aware Internet browsers. This allows technologists to create predictable outcomes on user visits.  If you are a broker in Ohio, and a consumer visits your website from California – you can say “We welcome Californians! Leading websites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com and Homefinder do this effectively. Why don’t broker websites do the same? Browser auto-detect allows website owners to create actions around the criteria of a visitor including location or browser type. To illustrate browser type, visit http://c21home.com from your mobile browser.  The broker website will direct you to choosing the mobile site, or offer a mobile app download specifically designed for your phone. In this case, the website will detect your phone type, and you will be directed to the Smarter Agent mobile solution optimized to your device. This is pretty commonplace. Here is a fresh idea that I have not seen on real estate websites yet. This idea detects the State that a visitor is from and provides some special information designed specifically for them.

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Mobile Passes Print in Consumer Engagement

by Victor Lund on December 12, 2011

WAV Group joined the parade of consults declaring the death of print media in late 2006. Inman News confirmed its death during their conference in San Francisco in 2007 (one of my favorite events of all time). Believe it or not, print actually made a bit of a comeback in 2010. Nevertheless, the Internet is the place that consumers increasingly spend their media time. The new news is that people are actually spending more time on their mobile phones today than they are spending interacting with print media. According to eMarketer,  time spent on mobile devices is now an average of 65 minutes a day, compared to 44 minutes a day for print (newspapers and magazines combined).  Last year, both media segments were tied, but mobile grew by 30% in 2011. Here is the weird part – someone forgot to tell the people who are creating the advertising budgets. Today, companies spend an average of 25% of their marketing dollars on print according to eMarketer. Mobile gets less than 1%. Sound familiar? That was about the same ratio that we saw back in 2006-2007 when marketers began to shift dollars online. Today, marketers still only spend about 21% online – still less than print. The majority of money is still spent on Television – about 50% for most marketers.

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FSBO Sites Grow as Broker and Franchises Languish

by Victor Lund on November 30, 2011

Listing Syndicaiton

One of the pleasures of working at the WAV Group is the barrage of business questions that we are tasked to answer on a regular basis. Often, the questions challenge conventional understandings about the effectiveness of strategies in real estate. A key strategy discussion among executives at large broker firms and at large franchise organizations surrounds listing syndication to FSBO websites. Syndication strategies that each firm chooses varies relative to local market competition and consumer behavior. I highlighted that last sentence because it is the most important statement in this blog post. Many brokers and franchises are looking at what appears to be a radical move by Edina Realty and Shorewest REALTORS to pull out of syndication to FSBOs. It is not radical at all. It is sound business reasoning based upon measuring consumer behavior in their marketplace. At its foundation is the understanding that consumers visit agent, broker, franchise, and FSBO websites to get listing information.

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Great Vendors Embrace Rules

by Victor Lund on November 22, 2011

ListingSyndicationsmall

There has been a lot of conversational concern about companies that enter into new verticals of data management and service offerings. Four such instances were announced this year. REALTORS® Property Resource contracts with LPS for data services and LPS subcontracts to Real Estate Digital. Zillow purchased an IDX vendor, Diverse Solutions. MOVE purchased Threewide, the providers of the popular Listhub syndication service. CoreLogic launched a new appraisal tool leveraging MLS data. In every case, the vendor has been virtuous and adhered to contracts and data use rules. In each of these cases, many feared that data could be misused or abused. But, thus far, there have not been any discoveries of inappropriate behavior.

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Putting the teeth back into the REALTOR® Brand

by Marilyn Wilson on November 21, 2011

Real estate agents in our industry spend millions of dollars as a group annually to become a REALTOR® and to stay a member of the REALTOR® family. As someone who cut their teeth working with some of the most highly trusted brands in the world like Fisher-Price, Sesame Street and others, I have a few observations of the real estate industry’s branding efforts. First, when I ask most REALTORS® what makes them different than non-REALTORS® they say “the code of ethics”. While I appreciate the fact that those that live to the letter of the code of ethics may treat their customers differently, I would beg to differ that the code of ethics is a strong brand differentiator. Consumers expect every licensed real estate agent to live by a standard of service that includes integrity, honesty and above board practices. Wouldn’t you lose your license if you demonstrated unethical or even unprofessional business methods? I don’t believe the code of ethics “cuts it” as a key brand differentiator.

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Change hurts

by Victor Lund on October 28, 2011

Change Hurts

Perhaps there is a new chief executive, a new business strategy, an MLS conversion, a new product launch, a merger, a new data share, or a dramatically altered competitive landscape, in the real estate world, big change means big risk. In other words, company performance may rise like a rocket or fall like a rock. The only thing it’s not likely to do is stay the same. Change may be inevitable, but big change is scary, nevertheless. And how you deal with it plays a big role in the outcome. In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen big change in the works at some of America’s biggest and most widely followed real estate companies, primarily in the technology industry: Realtor.com decides to allow other agents to generate leads from broker listings. Zillow adds 45,000 for sale by owner listings and immediately jumps to become the #1 property search portal in America. Corelogic purchases Tarasoft and controls around 60% or 70% of all MLS systems. LPS broke into 2 companies spawning Real Estate Digital Listing Syndication is leading to chaos Data Sharing may be evil

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CMLS

The CMLS Conference in Tucson was absolutely the BEST EVER in my view!  First, there were over 550 attendees – the largest in conference history. The conference continues to grow in popularity year after year due to the relevant and timely content delivered coupled with well-organized and FUN events. This year was no different.  The CMLS Board led by Merri Jo Cowen and the fabulous hosts at the Tucson Association of REALTORS® led by Phil Tedesco and Wes Wiggins, formerly of Tucson created a very memorable event.   Jim Harrison, CEO of MLSListings was also elected as the latest board member of CMLS too.  He will be a great addition to the group, I’m sure. The event was kicked off with keynote speaker Brian Taylor, who set the tone of the conference to be focused on evolution, change and transitions.  He used several exercises to graphically depict the ways organizations fall into bad habits and use the wrong motivators to influence change ineffectively.  He set the tone for every presenter to speak frankly and talk about the “real” issues holding back the MLS industry.   In my view the single largest hurdle to growth and evolution of the MLS industry is our own hesitation to take bold and sometimes even unpopular moves to keep the industry ahead of the endless number of competitors coming after us.

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News from Property Panorama and Trulia

by Victor Lund on October 4, 2011

Property Panorama and Trulia

Property Panorama as appointed real estate industry veteran Mike Barnet as its new CEO, and Trulia releases information about the source of inaccurate data on their website today. Property Panorama was not specific in outlining the reasons for changing their leadership, but a new captain is at the helm. Barnet joined the company as the CIO about a year ago, and has been working to lead the charge to take the popular virtual tour solution to a higher level. Property Panorama was a unique offering in the industry when it launched its MLS Data Powered automated virtual tour creation program. Today solutions like VirtualTour, RealBiz 360, Previsite and others provide similar functionality. The press release talks about customer service enhancements and the extension of the platform to incorporate customer relationship management features. Trulia released research that indicates that data submitted to the website from non-MLS sources is 69% inaccurate. (Trulia correction: This is not accurate, we said that 69% of the errors we see come from 3rdparty syndicator source.) Although WAV Group has joined many others in the industry questioning why they even bother to accept those data feeds, Trulia would prefer to use their MLS Direct Reference product to correct the data rather than remove it.

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AOL-MOVEing in on property portals

by Victor Lund on August 17, 2011

AOL MOVE found using Google Search on REALTYBIZNEWS

Large consumer search portals like Google, Yahoo, and AOL have had an interesting, if not mystical strategy toward real estate. Today, AOL made an announcement to become a syndication channel for real estate listings. Perhaps AOL is going against the grain, or perhaps they finally found a great partner who made it easy for them to get enough quality listings on their site to make it a viable search solution for property. In today’s announcement, AOL Real Estate search will be powered by Move through the ListHub Syndication Network. No doubt, the strategy for AOL and Move fits. Both companies wants to stay competitive or surpass the 50 Million monthly visitor mark set by the combined Zillow/Yahoo Partnership. I am rather surprised that neither AOL or MOVE have seen significant stock share valuation bumps as a result of the awesome Zillow IPO. It also kinda makes me wonder what the next partnership looks like for search giant, Trulia. Here is the announcement from the Move Press Release.

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Case-Shiller Trashed by, Zillow, and RBI

by Victor Lund on June 29, 2011

Fiserv

If you add up the comments across the real estate technology space during the past few days, you will find a resounding thunder of criticism over the quality of the S&P Case-Shiller index, powered by Fiserv data. Companies like, Zillow, and RBI were the most vocal on their blogs. LPS and CoreLogic probably have opinions similar to Zillow and RBI. They have observed the weaknesses of the Case-Shiller index for years. I think that they are just a little less apt to douse Case-Shiller publically. Talk to any of the data specialists at either LPS or CoreLogic, and you will hear an accurate and technically sound assessment of the data set going into Case-Shiller.

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Googles Next Step in Real Estate Search

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2011

Last July, search and technology giant, Google announced an agreement to acquire ITA Software for around $700 Million. ITA software is a company that cut its teeth in the travel industry powering websites like Orbitz and Kayak. Google has been struggling with supporting consumers in real estate search for many years. They have had many fits and starts, including Google Base. With Google Base, the company tried to aggregate listing data and sort it out. Google Base was a failure and they shut it down. Now with ITA Software, Google may be back on track with real estate search. Rather than trying to display the correct listing result, ITA Software will allow Google to display listing results from popular websites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, and others, all in one place.

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If Trulia built MLS systems

by Victor Lund on June 6, 2011

Trulia made a brilliant acquisition around the beginning of 2010 when they purchased @movity. @movity was a company that specialized in taking complex data sets and layering them onto maps in a variety of brilliant ways. Today they are leveraging the skills from the @movity team to explore ways to communicate data easily, and drive engagement. The data kings in the real estate industry are CoreLogic and LPS. They are both companies that collect, warehouse, and distribute massive amounts of data. The focus of these companies has always been data quality and predictive analytics – not necessarily presentation or engagement. Zillow busted into their house with the Zestimate – although not quite as accurate, the Zestimate is a reasonable predictor of property value when benchmarked against the “professional AVMs” offered by LPS and CoreLogic.  In truth, Zillow brought the AVM to the consumer, and they did it for free, so consumers cut them some slack for being a little off. Zillow created data easily, and drove engagement. In isolation, data is a rather sleepy lummox, but web presentation changes all of that. I was inspired when the MLS systems around the country embraced map search. Those long forms with checkboxes, drop downs, and codes were such a bore. Form based search is the summit of tedium. For me, map based search changes all of that. MLS data became interesting, and somewhat engaging. Flood Zones, and school districts and other key property characteristics layered over property maps began to convey an understanding of meaning and purpose behind real estate property values. Great data trains the REALTOR and provides them with tools that enable clear communication to the consumer they serve. I sincerely believe that Trulia has an edge today over many of the MLS software provider. Take a look at this video (I would love to see training videos like this in the MLS systems) of how they explain the launch of a new feature. Then go try the product. You are sure to be impressed, and engaged.    

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