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The Future Listing Syndication Landscape

Here’s a rough prediction for what will take the place in the listing syndication arena after the “ListHub-Zillow divorce” (for more analysis on the deal, read Rob Hahn’s thoughts here and here):

  • Zillow will continue to invest in their listing management and reporting dashboard.
  • Brokers & MLS’ will want an independent vendor that will send their listings to all portals, with no vested interest in any particular portal.
  • Companies like Bridge & ListTrac will focus on being unbiased as a point of differentiation, and gain traction with early adopters.
  • Postlets will get a boost in usage from agents and small brokers.
  • A new Postlets clone/competitor will pop up by someone (industry vet or new startup) who sees this as a new opportunity in a world without ListHub. Or someone like vFlyer who has an existing product will emerge with a substantial customer base.
  • Bridge or ListTrac or some other syndication competitor will gain a significant foothold in terms of MLS coverage.
  • A new portal (let’s call them “Portal A”) will strike deals with the leading 1 or 2 syndication vendors to populate their site with listings — and somehow convince a decent number of brokers/MLS’ to turn the syndication option on (remember, virtually every real estate startup needs listing data in bulk to survive long term)
  • Zillow will buy the largest vendor (just as Move bought ListHub)
  • The number 2 vendor will get bought (just as Move bought Point2)
  • “Portal A” will get mad they are reliant on a competitor for listings, and start their own syndication service

(Note this is likely to happen over a very, very long period of time…years, not months)

Tell me it ain’t so?

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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  • Wow. Let’s call it the roadmap to Groundhog Day. Maybe they’ll read this first and go another direction.

    • I think Zillow could avoid this if they play their cards right. I may write up a post with my thoughts.

  • Marcus Fillion

    I can see where you’re going, but there have to be more options than that. Have Zillow and Trulia already combined? And I think the benefit of the companies actually stays the same. Even having smaller rival sites can’t make online real estate less helpful to the client. | http://www.nevasca.com

    • rolandestrada

      Read my post above.

  • rolandestrada

    How about NAR starts new portal that becomes what realtor.com should have been from the beginning – a site for the benefit of it members not and not the profit center that realtor.com acme. Below is what I posted on Inman regarding a similar discussion.

    I think that’s what’s driving part of this conversation. In my talks with other agents the feeling is that associations and their portals should be there for the of the agents – the paying members. Let’s be frank. Without paying members. there are no associations. Without agents there are no brokers. I don’t know if there is any way for NAR to regain control of realtor.com or change the licensing agreement.

    But if we could, then the ideal would be that realtor.com should funnel every online inquiry to the corresponding listing agent for free. They could still make money selling ads. I don’t know if that screws up the third party portals’ revenue angle. HAR functions very well on the model I just mentioned. I don’t think very many agents on a national level know how HAR functions for the benefit of their membership, but I’m sure almost every one of those agent woulds love that business model locally and nationally.

  • rolandestrada

    A short version. Create a new Realtor portal where all leads go to the corresponding listing agent for free. Make money from ads. Call it a day and let the third party portals fight for what’s left. HAR does this very well.

    • Who will drive traffic to it? How will it gain any traction against portals in search results?

      • My questions exactly

        • rolandestrada

          Really?? People are so defeatist. How does anything get traction. No site starts with tons of traction. HAR gets local traction. Take the test. Search Houston real estate and see where HAR comes up on the search. Are you telling me that if NAR starts another portal that it won’t gain traction. What are we suppose do, sit around with our thumbs up our butts because people say it’s “impossible”, Granted HAR is local but it’s proof of concept. I know part of it is politics – nobody wants to rattle the cage.

          • Who has the incentive to build and promote it? If there is no monetary potential for those behind it to get rich, who is going to work their ass off to make it succeed?

          • rolandestrada

            You sell ads like so many other ad driven sites. Ask HAR how they are doing. I’m sure they will tell you. I’ve already spoken to their head IT guy. They seem to be doing just fine.

          • right. but that’s one market. Competing with portals across every city in the country is a whole different ballgame.

          • rolandestrada

            Not if it’s a national effort backed by NAR. They already have the feeds. If Agents knew they would get every online lead from that kind of portal you would almost 100% approval. I can also bet if the NAR agent membership knew that HAR gives their agents all the online leads from the HAR portal, they would be rattling the trees for local AORs and MLSs to do the same. Part of the problem is that nobody really has the balls to challenge the status quo. Lots of politics at play.

          • There’s plenty of challenging the status quo, but it’s usually just talk and not dollars. Competing regionally is one thing. Going up against multi-billion dollar companies takes billions of dollars. I’m not saying your concept isn’t feasible, we just haven’t heard any reason why consumers would flock to it (which is how portals make money). Realtor.com already has the direct MLS feeds, accuracy, etc. that would be the same offering to consumers. What would the NAR portal offer that’s different?

          • rolandestrada

            I not talking about just anyone doing it. I’m talking about NAR backing it secondary portal. They spent what I’m sure is a tidy sum on RPR with no particular revenue model. They could certainly spend money for a Realtor-centric portal and make money for the ads. I’ve already mentioned that but it bears repeating.

            As far as traction goes, just the fact that NAR would back it is enough to get plenty of press and clicks. You’re looking at it strictly as a Zillow get rich model. I’m looking at as an agent benefit of being part of NAR, as it should have been all along. Then everybody else can fight over the scraps that are left over. Meanwhile, agents get the leads they deserve, they make money, the brokers make money, the associations and MLSs keep getting dues. Everybody is happy.

          • I still have not heard a reason why buyers are going to use this. Because agents want them to, and not have to pay the portals for leads, is not a reason buyers care about.

          • rolandestrada

            Calle Bob Hale at HAR. I’m sure he’ll grant you an interview to see how they are pulling it off.

          • Building it and hoping people will find/use it… is a sure recipe for failure. What is the marketing strategy and product differentiation that goes with it?

  • Simple solution…NAR owns a site, Brokers sends all their listings to it, NAR site can NOT sell those IDX feeds to 3rd party sites like ZTR…Now ZTR has no listings=no traffic=agents/brokers back in control.

    • It’s not simple. Brokers would have to pull their listings from portals while the portals still have dominant traffic. Their agents, and their sellers, would protest. The first brokers to leave would be undercut by the other brokers who would have a valuable advantage in staying on the portals now. The only way this works is with a simultaneous effort industry-wide, which would have antitrust concerns.

      NAR would have to build the site and the traffic to compete first, and then convince brokers to consolidate on its site with relative popularity to the portals. That’s expensive and time-consuming.

      • Antitrust concerns? Brokers owning their listings and choosing what platform to put them on?

        • “Brokers sends all their listings to it, NAR site can NOT sell those IDX feeds to 3rd party sites like ZTR” often leads to “If we all agreed to stop doing business with them at the same time”. I’m no attorney, but that sounds like collusion/antitrust concerns would arise quickly, especially if NAR was involved.

          • What I’m proposing is that Brokers come together with the help of NAR (since we are all members) or without them and start a new MLS system (our own) were we feed our listings to, NAR will not be able to sell us out like they did because in essence we (brokers) will be in control of “our” content (listings).

          • As long as you don’t require that all members blacklist some other business as a group, you might be ok.

          • rolandestrada

            Really. Like NAR hasn’t already spent a boatload of cash on RPR with no revenue model other that maybe an API. NAR already has the infrastructure to pull it off. You guys act like the internet has peaked and there is no room for another real estate portal ever again. Come on!!

            You build a first class portal and give consumers a firehose of info – everything that is legal to put out there. You give it clean elegant user interface and people will go there. Not to mention the press to be gotten from NAR backing such a deal.

            And of course, you don’t freeze anyone out. Let’s face it, unless you make money selling how-to programs and seminars on how to market on Zillow and Trulia, how can you possibly lose.

          • Ok, I’m lost!
            My idea is to do away with ZTR…we have a national website were all brokers feed their listings to and keep the info ours…no feeds to 3rd party sites.
            As a broker today if I want to look at listings beyond areas that my MLS co-op’s with I have to go to ZTR as they showcase listings all over US, but “I” as a broker can’t? What is wrong with that picture?! I understand that I can’t sell in a state I’m not licensed in, but I should at least have access to listings the way they do.

          • rolandestrada

            As an aside, almost anyone that is against a venture like this only because “it costs too much” or “how will you gain traction” probably has something to lose financially from a new agent-centric portal. Please note I said almost anyone.

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