The Great MLS Listings Giveaway
This is a story about how a listing can get contracted and sold in today's internet environment. And how NAR is giving Billions of Dollars in Listings of homes away this year.
I bet you didn't even hear about it. Heck, I bet most the people at your Board don't even know....
Follow this path if you would:
- Mary Realtor markets herself. She is the neighborhood expert. She doorknocks, mails, advertises, and has 5 websites.
- Mary gets a CMA lead.
- Her team analyzes and prepares a detailed listing report and presentation for the lead.
- Mary goes up against 4 other agents and gets the listing. It was not easy though, and gulp! She lowered her commission.
- Mary celebrates her little win and then hands off the paperwork to her team that types in the new listing with the Board or Realtors.They order for sale signs and all promotional material including online and offline ads.
- The MLS puts it into their database that feeds Mary and her fellow Realtor's MLS subscription.
- The MLS also puts the listing into the IDX database.
Now, another fellow agent down the street from Mary would like to offer MLS listings on his website. (Who doesn't?). His name is Tom the Realtor. So he went thru the bureaucracy from the MLS Legal Eagles and signed his life away so that he could offer MLS listings thru his trusted Vendor.
The Great Listing Giveaway of 2007.
Tom and his Vendor are very Web 2.0 savvy. So they offer the listings pages with RSS/XML. In fact, Tom offers his listings along with his blog postings in a RSS mashup at Yahoo Pipes and other similar mashup sites. (RSS means Real Simple Syndication and makes for easy reading in an RSS reader. But only 12% of the web uses these readers.)
The Vendor (being the great service provider he is) and Tom both submit the listings feeds to property and classified verticals.
The classifieds and vertical websites of course offer their own syndication thru RSS and XML feeds.
Meet Bill the Foreign Internet Marketeer
Bill is overseas and knows that you can use rss and xml to also syndicate feeds into a website. Bill grabs the mashups and the xml feeds and builds himself a nice local oriented website. This site represents housing information right smack dab in the middle of Tom and Mary's territory.
Bill thought that these kind of sites are perfect to cash in on American Real Estate. Apparently he hasn't heard that there is a market recession.
He signs up with Yahoo advertising, Homegain and Zip Realty affiliate programs. He does it right. He captures the visitors names and has a sequential 45 letter drip system. He had to hire a translator/copywriter to get the drip offers right. But he knows that it is worth it. He can always swap out the locations and use the letters in his 35 other American real estate markets that he has decided to target.
He knows his greatest problem is content and he is relieved that these U.S. property agents are so willing to make them available for syndication.
Bill the foreign marketer does not know Mary. You remember Mary the Realtor. The gal who spent a fortune to just get to the listing appointment. The same agent who will spend a fortune to get this listing sold.
In a convoluted way Bill is helping Mary. He is a better online marketer than Mary and Tom put together. They advertise on Overture/Yahoo, thus their ads will show on Bill's website (along with their listings). And maybe Bill will capture some prospective buyer that will want to see and eventually buy Mary's property for sale.
Now, I am sure some will say hurrah! The listing is sold. Someone wanted their house sold. And Mary the Realtor listed it and moved it. Mission accomplished. But I hope somehow you see that something does not sit right.
The convulsion can be seen as part of the glorious incestuous nature of the Internet. Or a disservice to Mary and Tom.
You see Bill the Foreigner has no allegiance to the Board of Realtors, or to any Realtors for that fact. However Mary and Tom are both subject to all kinds of restrictions limiting them in their use of the MLS data.
Somehow this seems wrong since it is on their backs that the listings are procured. And it is on their dime that the MLS exists as a cooperative.
One can also make the case that it is because of these agents work that sites like the one built by Bill can even exist. To some extent this is true. But as long as someone is willing to pay them, these marketers would still encroach into local markets,even if listing data did not exist.
If by any chance you don't like people using your data, think of the search engines. They make their living off other peoples data.
I really am not trying to make a case either way. I am really trying to establish the dynamics that are in play.
- Your Competition is Global
- Your competition can help you sell your properties
- Content is King and your industry leaders have given much of your "exclusive" content away.
- You need to develop content above and beyond just the IDX feeds. Consider local blogs, video, podcasts to start. Lets us not forget email and offline marketing. And you gotta keep it fresh and enlightening.