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Ownership, and The Death of IDX?

I’m not going to write an essay, but I wanted to briefly follow up to Joel’s post, and Matthew’s response about the future of IDX.

From Matthew:

Agents need to own their success online, not rent it. To do that, they’ll need mobile technology that’s widely available, affordable and easy to build. In short, they’ll need commoditization — and IDX provides a model for how that can happen.

I agree — in a perfect world, everyone would own their success online. In all major aspects of life, owning is preferable to renting. I’m on record saying you should own your brand, not rent is. But the fact of the matter is that owning is expensive. The fact is mobile technology is extremely expensive to build — and even more expensive to market it to customers.

In my mind, the questions to ask yourselves are:

  1. What will it cost to own your success online in the mobile world we live in today (dominated by Zillow, Trulia,, Redfin)?
  2. Do you actually have the skills to execute on technology/lead generation ownership?
  3. Is focusing on technology a good use of your time? Is it a differentiator you can build a brand on?

My guess:

  1. A hell of a lot more than pretty much any agent or broker can afford.
  2. The vast majority…no.
  3. No, and no.

That said, I still think there is a play to be made making the agent the center of the search process (I may be wrong). But even then, how will buyers ever hear about an app offered by one agent or one brokerage (the only way they could “own” that channel)?

Happy thanksgiving.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I was almost finished with a post before I read Matthew’s. No reason to duplicate it.

    Joel’s article had a provocative title which was undercut by its content. IDX is dying, but we built a really cool customized IDX website. Let’s celebrate IDX’s demise by talking about mobile vs. desktop traffic.

    Desktop traffic isn’t shrinking. Mobile is just growing. Mobile’s biggest growth is social and gaming traffic. So, mobile is really important, but desktop continues to be important. IDX is a technology that can be leveraged on either.

    Getting the mobile experience right is harder. It will be more expensive…for now. Doing anything on mobile is more expensive right now. Portals have a big lead. Agents and brokers have a long way to go in mobile. IDX? Nothing to do with it.

  • Drew, to answer your questions.

    1. $5 per month using Placester or a bit more with other good solutions such as Real Geeks.
    2. You need neighborhood knowledge and the ability to blog. Let Placester or another tech company handle the technology.
    3. No, not when you can get a decent site at $5 per month. Focus on your brand by adding good content to the site.

    Even the successful Zillow advertisers have their own site. They see Zillow as a platform to get leads, they then tell their leads to use their own website because most of the time they are looking at older out of date listing information when they get the lead from Zillow.

    Because of IDX, these Realtors know their website is up to date and it is better for their lead to use than Zillow, plus Zillow will keep flashing other ads in front of their leads, so many Zillow advertisers goal is to get that lead off Zillow and on to their Website.

    • Is a $5/mo placester site ever going to be found? If found (a massive IF), will it actually be used by buyers who are in their car with nothing more than a phone? Why would they not just use the zillow, redfin, or app instead?

      • If there is good content on a website then it would get indexed as any other site would, regardless of the price. Also agents might choose to use PPC.

        Plus if they work with Zillow they would turn their hot leads onto their site instead of Zillow.

        Placester looks good on a phone. I tested it.

        The reason a buyer would not use Zillow is lack of accuracy, as they are not connected to the MLS in many areas. Redfin is connected, but not in all areas.

        Bottom line, I don’t think it is a good strategy for agents to just give up and pay Zillow for leads. Even the agents paying Zillow a lot of money monthly still direct all the leads they get to their website.

        Zillow is a tough opportunity for agents. The one success story I heard pays Zillow roughly $185 per lead. That is a lot of money per lead, and if he does not convert them fast he loses them.

        There was a post on the Realtor Facebook Group about what agents spent money on and regretted most, and Zillow was probably the number 1 thing mentioned. It works for some, but for many it does not work, so an alternative strategy is needed.

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