By Anne Marie DeCatsye
Where and how your listing information appears on the internet has always been a top priority for CarolinaMLS.
This year and last have been particularly busy in that regard — and we’d love your input on our latest focus: realtor.com® and ListHub. We know there are strong opinions out there and we want to hear them.
First, a little background.
You may remember last year that the CarolinaMLS Board of Directors turned a critical eye toward Zillow and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a direct feed from the CarolinaMLS to Zillow. We spent the better part of 2015 in contract negotiations but were unable to achieve terms acceptable to CarolinaMLS that protected our members’ data. We terminated negotiations with Zillow in December 2015.
Now, the spotlight is on realtor.com® and ListHub and whether we want to continue contracting with them. In the months ahead, the CarolinaMLS board is looking first at ListHub and then at realtor.com®.
ListHub is a syndication service that Member Participants in CarolinaMLS (often your broker-in-charge) have had access to through CarolinaMLS since 2008. Nearly 60 percent of our member firms (1,325 of 2,240 as of mid-June) have elected to use the service, and a little over a third (37 percent) purchase ListHub’s reporting product.
The basic product, a benefit through MLS membership, provides access to more than 80 websites and allows brokers to send leads and traffic to their preferred location.
ListHub gives firms/brokers the option to publish their listings to real estate-related websites around the world. Firms may pick and choose the sites with which to associate themselves. It is, and always has been, purely your firm’s choice.
CarolinaMLS does not directly send out listings to any sites without direction from your firm, and we always provide a mechanism for the firm to change its mind. Many brokers don’t realize this and complain about where they see their listings.
One key note: if your firm uses ListHub, your listings automatically go to Real Estate Network sites (coldwellbanker.com, remax.com, realtyexecutives.com and century21.com.) unless you opt out of them. All other ListHub sites are opt-in.
Many firms made their ListHub syndication choices years ago, so it is probably not a bad idea to revisit it and reassess your choices.
If you’re concerned about where your firm listings are going, speak with the person who handles ListHub for your firm. If you don’t know who that person is, check with your Member Participant or broker-in-charge. Member Participants or brokers-in-charge who are not sure, or just want to learn more about ListHub or ask questions, may contact Marley Gasperini with ListHub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CarolinaMLS sent a feed to realtor.com® for many years and finally signed a contract in 2002 and renewed it in 2005. Our current review is a good opportunity to clarify realtor.com®’s role with NAR, which has a perpetual operating agreement with Move, Inc. to run the site. NAR owns the realtor.com® brand and has received approximately $9 million from Move, Inc., now owned by News Corp., over the last five years to use the Realtor® brand.
Though separate, Move, Inc. owns ListHub in addition to running realtor.com®. While I don’t think realtor.com® will become a part of the ListHub syndication options, we may want to push for it to be part of ListHub traffic reports.
A new feature at realtor.com®, by the way, is “Profile Manager,” a product that tracks production for individual Realtors®. If you have not filled out your agent profile on realtor.com® you may want to check it out. If you are the Member Participant you may want to encourage your agents to do so. By simply filling out the agent profile, listing and buyer agents will get free inquiries and leads in the new Find a Realtor® search.
In addition, agents with a completed profile automatically receive a link to their profile page from the listing detail page. To check if your profile is complete, search for yourself at http://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/. If you want to establish your profile, go to www.realtor.com/agentprofile or call 866-665-1738.
If you have thoughts and opinions about realtor.com® or ListHub, e-mail me and let me know.
To help our CarolinaMLS Board of Directors begin evaluating the use of these sites, the group invited Move, Inc. to address both services. Rhett Damon, the organization’s vice president of MLS Industry Relations, presented to us at a May 26 meeting, whose audience included the CarolinaMLS and Association Boards of Directors in addition to several local brokers-in-charge and representatives from the Triangle, Triad and North Carolina Mountain MLS organizations.
We appreciate Rhett discussing both services in light of “best practices” enumerated in the COVE Checklist of Critical Components for MLSs and Brokerage Firms. He also provided a good overview of both entities.
Now is the time for you to ask questions and make your opinions known. I look forward to hearing from you about either realtor.com® or ListHub. And if you have thoughts and questions specifically about your firm and ListHub, contact Marley at email@example.com.
Thanks for your time and input!