Edina Realty pulling listings from Trulia and Realtor.com?

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Top traffic RE sitesCraig Kamman, an agent with Edina Realty in Wayzata, MN reported Tuesday on his blog that Edina Realty is going to stop sending their real estate listings to 3rd party sites like Trulia and Realtor.com.

From what I am assuming is an internal message to Edina agents (as it’s nowhere to be found in Edina’s on-line press room or anywhere else online that I can find) that Craig posted comes this:

Edina Realty will no longer provide a broker feed of our listing inventory to Trulia.com starting Nov. 30, 2011. We also intend to discontinue sending our listings to Realtor.com by the end of the year.

Interesting. Why would a very large real estate brokerage pull their listings from two of the most heavily trafficked real estate sites on the planet? (According to Hitwise, Realtor.com and Trulia are currently the first and third most visited real estate web sites.)

Here’s what Edina had to say about it:

Third party aggregators are not brokers. They get listings for free from brokers around the country and then display them online, collecting and distributing leads for profit. We believe it makes the best business sense for our agents and Edina Realty to control our own listings in order to ensure that:

  • Our agents don’t lose future business opportunities because a non-listing competitor pays to present themselves as the contact for your listing.
  • Our agents don’t have to pay – directly or indirectly – for leads on their own listings.
  • Our sellers can be assured that leads on their listing are being handled by an expert
  • The quality and accuracy of your listing data is assured.
  • Potential buyers are provided with fast, knowledgeable responses via the listing agent or our seven-day-a-week customer service department.

Of course where Edina, or any real estate brokerage, chooses to distribute their listings is up to them. The brokerage owns the listing (though I think I could make a case that the home seller should own the listing for their own home, but contractually speaking the owner of the data is the listing brokerage).

Craig thinks Edina Realty should be “applauded for their leadership”. Other agents and brokers have chimed in across the interwebs in agreement with Craig.

The common mantra I hear from many agents and brokers regarding sending listings to third party sites typically falls into all or part of four camps:

1) Third party sites end up selling leads back to the agent/brokerage that provides them listings.
2) Third party sites compete with agent and brokerage sites in search engine results.
3) Third party sites that don’t get a feed from the MLS serve up inaccurate data.
4) It’s our data, we should control it.

I Don’t Get It

At Thompson’s Realty, we syndicate our listings to multiple third party real estate sites (including Realtor.com and Trulia). Why? Simply put, for exposure. Home buyers are looking for homes on the Internet. Of course I’d rather them search for homes right on the site you are looking at now, but the simple fact is these large national sites are out there, and they draw a LOT of home buyer eyeballs. It only seems appropriate to put our clients home sale information on the highest traffic real estate sites. Not to do so would be a disservice, in my opinion.

I’ve never understood the, “They sell leads back to us using the data we supplied!” argument. No third party site can sell you a lead if you don’t open your checkbook or whip out the credit card. Don’t like third party sites selling you leads? Don’t buy them. How hard is that?

Don’t like third party sites competing with you in the search engines? Build an authoritative site and compete with them. We rank above Realtor.com and Trulia and other third party sites for countless keywords, address and MLS number searches. Those who say the little guy can’t compete with these deep-pocket listing aggregators are wrong, plain and simple.

Yes, there are inaccuracies in some of the third party listings. Guess what? There are inaccuracies galore in the MLS. That’s been proven over and over again. If you find these sites aren’t displaying your data accurately, tell them to fix it. Every third party site I’m aware of (or at least care about) has a process to correct bad data (most of which is entered incorrectly to start with by the listing agent or broker).

What seems to give the most angst to the folks who oppose these sites having “our” data is that some other agent who pays money will get a lead from their listing.

So what?

We don’t take listings to generate leads, we take listings to sell them.

And if putting a client’s home on Trulia or Realtor.com or Homes.com or Zillow or where ever gets that listing in front of a home buyer and they contact some  ad paying agent to help them buy it, GOOD. That’s the freaking point! I *want* buyers to contact an agent about buying our client’s home.

Edina made the point, “Our sellers can be assured that leads on their listing are being handled by an expert.” Good for them. I know a few agents that work at Edina and they are fantastic agents. Are there crappy agents out there, getting leads from third party sites? You betcha. And if a crappy agent brings a buyer for one of our client’s home, we’ll deal with it. Trust me, many a good agent, be they at Thompson’s Realty or otherwise, has had to hold the hand of a lousy agent and do their job for them in order to get the transaction closed. Welcome to real estate. My guess is that a home seller–if they get the price they need in the time they need it–couldn’t care less about the ability of the buyer’s agent or what their agent had to jump through to close the transaction.

And they shouldn’t care. It’s our job as their representative to worry about that.

There’s murmuring out there that other brokerages will follow Edina’s lead. That we need to wrest control of listing data from these third party sites. Sorry kids, but the control left the building a long time ago. Real estate buyers want access to listing data, and it’s our job to get that data to them.

Will other brokerages pull their listing data from third party sites? Maybe. I can assure you that if a Phoenix area brokerage chooses to do that, then we will use their decision to our advantage. How does the conversation go with a potential seller if you are with a brokerage that chooses not to use third party listing sites?

So Mr. Agent, you’ll put our home listing on the internet, won’t you?

Well, it will be on our brokerage site, but we’ve elected not to put your listing on some of the most highly visited real estate sites in the country.

Uhm, why is that?

Well, we want to be sure our agents get the leads your home listing generates. And those meanies at the third party site want to charge for them!

Uhm, isn’t the point to sell our home, not generate leads for you and other agents?

Seems like an… uncomfortable… conversation to have. Good luck explaining your decision to not market a listing on high traffic sites. And you WILL be disclosing to all your potential clients that you’ve elected to withhold their homes from these sites, won’t you? Of course you will. So get ready for that other awkward conversation like this:

So, you won’t be putting our listing on the most visited real estate web sites. XYZ Realty says they will. Why should we list with you and not them?

We have expert agents!

XYZ Realty says they do too. Is there any brokerage out there that says, “Use us! We have shitty agents!”?

We have a 197,381 point marketing plan for your home!

That doesn’t include putting our home listing on two of the top three most visited websites on the planet…

This conversation seems so much simpler, and so much more effective:

So Mr. Agent, you’ll put our home listing on the internet, won’t you?

You’re damn right we will. That thing will be plastered across so many sites that home buyers won’t be able to miss it.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like simple, effective communication with clients.

I like getting their homes on high traffic sites.

I like selling their homes.

Concerned you won’t get leads from your listings? You know what the best lead generator in the history of commerce is?

A satisfied client.

Help Me Understand

I know for a fact there are a lot of agents and brokers that have heartburn over third party listing sites. Apparently Edina does. I’m having a conversation at this very moment with an agent I respect the hell out of who has concerns about them. There seem to be plenty of others as well.

To be perfectly honest, it appears that much of the consternation may well be surrounding the fact that it is likely more difficult to double-side a transaction if someone else is getting leads from your listings. That isn’t a concern of mine as I abhor single-agent dual agency and will avoid it like the plague. But I have yet to hear anyone come out and say they want leads on their listings because they want to double-side them. Why is that? 

Maybe that assessment is off base, but clearly I don’t understand the angst with third party sites. Please, enlighten me…

 

UPDATE Nov 18: Edina has issued a statement on this matter. Thanks to Edina agent Aaron Dickinson for providing the link to Edina’s statement.

Others Opine:

John Murphy – Has Edina Realty Just Declared War on Real Estate Web Site Aggregators – Trulia and Realtor.com?

Image: Top 10 Visited Real Estate Sites. Week ending 11/12/2011. From Experian Hitwise.

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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