Last week, we opened up the conversation about listing syndication with a brief background of what it is and how it came about. Today, our focus will be to look at the advantages and disadvantages of listing syndication from the sellers’ and real estate agents’ point of view.
The trouble with looking at the pros and cons of listing syndication is that each argument for or against has its own pros and cons – so it can be a continuous can of worms no matter which side of the fence you are on. Hopefully, these posts will help you understand the root of the conversation and help you make your own informed decisions.
Listing Syndication Pros
Buyers are all over the internet looking at properties. They research, look at homes, and think about areas and neighborhoods, often long before they contact a real estate agent. Thanks to sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com (there are tons of other sites, but these three will remain the generic “them” for our purposes here), buyers have access to data that was once available only through the MLS, which was a highly coveted commodity that only brokers and their agents had access to. Because buyers can access so much information now, the argument in favor of listing syndication is simple – you want to be everywhere the buyers are. Why limit yourself to just one or two websites, when a potential buyer may be looking on a third site?
The sellers want the exposure. I have yet to come across a seller who said “keep my home sale quiet, will ya?” in my personal business (although they do exist, particularly in the higher end market). Sellers want their home shown to the widest possible audience to gain the most exposure and, this is why they’re selling, an eventual offer (or many). By cutting off a piece of the market, sellers don’t feel they’re getting the best service from an agent. As real estate agents, we don’t really care where the buyer saw the property – we just want them to see it, whether it’s from the internet, the MLS, or buyers just driving through the neighborhood. Our goal is to sell the home.
Listing Syndication Cons
Depending on which site you’re speaking of, the arguments vary, but the number one complaint, particularly from the real estate agents, is over the inaccuracy of the data. Every real estate agent has a story about a call they received from a buyer who wanted to see the “bargain” house that turned out to be a) a different price, b) not for sale, or c) had sold months ago. These inaccurate listings are much too common on the syndication sites. While some of the problems stem from data migration and syndication sites pulling from too many sources, some of it also occurs at the agent level (which is why I always argue for better MLS data to begin with – there are far too many mistakes in the MLS). There are also issues with data deletion (when a property sells for example) and data refresh rates (price changes and status changes).
Many of the listing sites also retain property data long after the sale. This results in properties looking like they’re for sale, when they are in fact not and haven’t been in a long time. Even when the sites indicate that these homes are just there for info purposes and are not for sale, the markers are generally not prominent enough to catch the visitors eye and can lead to confusion.
From the agent’s perspective, these sites are using the data we generate within our MLS systems and then taking that data and using it to power their lead generating syndication sites. In turn they sell the leads back to the agents. This is easily one of the biggest arguments within the real estate agent community.
If the leads are going to other agents, there is no guarantee that they know the home as intimately as the listing agent. In other words, the buyers are calling someone who may have never even seen the house and therefore is not able to truly “sell” the home. Of course, this argument always brings up the issue of dual agency (known as intermediary here in Texas).
Kimberly Howell Properties’ Stance
We at Kimberly Howell Properties believe that although the system of listing syndication is imperfect, it is the system we have, and to not utilize it to its fullest would be detrimental to our sellers. We want the sellers to have an opportunity to be seen wherever the buyers may be. Our preference would be to have everyone search for homes on our website, but we’re realistic enough to know that won’t happen. So we strive to work on our search engine rankings so that those searching for our listings online will find us before they visit some of the listing syndication sites. It’s a constant battle, but we have had a lot of success with it. If someone does find our listings on another site and that lead goes to another agent, we are more than happy to work with that agent in getting the home sold if their buyers are interested – that’s what we’re here for, to get the home sold and make our clients happy.
image courtesy of OregonDOT