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2008-09-29 20:20:22

Listing Syndication: Six Things You Need to Know -- Part Two


The real estate industry has begun to embrace the concept of listing syndication, and for good reason. Distribution trumps destination in the age of “Wikinomics” and the “Long Tail.” We have gone from skepticism a mere 24 months ago, to large franchises, brokerages and now MLSs and Associations moving to “single point of entry” syndication solutions.

The most obvious driver fuelling the move is consumer fragmentation caused by the onset of increasingly popular real estate search sites. The answer to the proliferation of sites with real estate content is to be proactive, publishing listings on as many sites as possible, increasing visibility of not only the listing but of the firm or agent. This strategy has provided firms and agents with increased branding, a new source of leads and, the ability to control the quality of their listing data online.

Previously in this column, we discussed key considerations in choosing a syndication solution. In brief, you should display your listing on as many sites as possible, so you need to subscribe to the largest network. Syndication should be free and must deliver leads directly to the listing broker, at no cost. The broker should have control over where their listings are published and must have access to traffic reports and analytics, also at no cost. Finally, a built in conversion system needs to be in place, in order to turn leads into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into revenue. 

Publishing listings on 20 or 30 high traffic websites such as Google or Craigslist is a necessity and can deliver significant benefits. If your MLS does not yet provide this value add benefit, ask them to consider doing so. You’ll likely find that they are headed in that direction anyway. 

The untold story about syndication, however, is that as a strategy, it can be a listing differentiator. Agents need to include in their marketing materials the fact that they do syndicate, to whom they syndicate, and that for the most part, their competitors are lazy about exposure of listings on the Internet. Also, enhancing the listing with photos is simple and studies have shown, increases interest in the listing.

 
Listing syndication covers popular consumer sites,
but not local real estate agent websites.
 
IDX technology is one way to remedy this inadequacy. When buyers visit a real estate professional’s website, they are usually looking for listing information. If they can’t find what they are looking for on your site, they will go to someone else’s site, or a consumer portal (Yahoo!, Google, REALTOR.com, etc.) to look for property. When they come to your site to search, you want to make sure you offer at least as much inventory as your competitor’s site. IDX enables this capability.

If you can offer more than your competitor’s site, even better. Handshake™, a technology offered by Point2 Agent, is another type of reciprocal listing advertising technology. It is opt-in, meaning you select which broker or agent you allow to advertise your listings on their website and, unlike IDX, it extends beyond the limits of your MLS. The system allows users to selectively syndicate listings for publication on hundreds or thousands of real estate professionals’ websites. Action Items:
 
1. Make sure your listings are syndicated to as many consumer portals as possible. Remember, “Distribution Trumps Destination.”
2. Include the Syndication Story in your marketing and listing materials.
3. Insist that your website provider or syndication provider sends analytics of traffic provided from those consumer portals.
 
Use syndication and the tools that surround a robust syndication product to differentiate yourself from the competition. As Seth Godin says, your choice is simple… “Be different or charge less.” The choice is yours.
 
For more on listing syndication, check out my MLS 5.0 article.
 
(Saul Klein is a REALTOR® and nationally recognized speaker and consultant who, over the last 16 years, has spent more than 15,000 hours in front of real estate professionals, consumers, association staffs and volunteers. Over the past 15 years he has traveled over 1,500,000 miles delivering a message on technology and its role in the future of the real estate industry. Saul was selected by the National Association Of REALTORS® as one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Real Estate Industry” in 2003 and one of the “100 Most Influential Real Estate People” by Inman News in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.)

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