One of the latest issues facing brokers today is adopting strategies to successfully syndicate real estate listings to online portals.
The good news is that it will be easier thanks to feeds using xml and web 2.0.
The bad news is that very few service providers to agents and brokers offer this capability.
The first company out of the box with this capability was Threewide. The newest entry into this arena is vFlyer.
New sites that allow agents and consumers to post listings include Trulia, Propsmart, HotPads, Vast, Edgeio, and Oodle.
The big dogs in this space are Google, followed by Craigslist and Zillow. Everyone else is hopeful, but does not have enough traffic to be successful (in my view).
For these online publishers to be successful, they need traffic. Zillow is pouring money into advertising and PR to generate traffic. Although their technology is best of bread, companies have been quick to release “me-too” offerings including Point2, SubmitYourListings and Homegain. They are in a foot race. The established competitor is Craigslist – but their strength is regional and very city-centric.
If you combine all of these companies together, their annual traffic is surpassed in 1 minute by the traffic on Google – so by comparison, they do not even exist.
Google offers google base – which allows anyone to upload entire databases as tax delimited files, or provide rss or atom feeds with listing data.
They request the following feeds, but claim that you can leave any field empty. In our tests, we have noticed that loading listings to google base – even when complete, does not necessarily mean that your listings will be published – very frustrating.
Support is nearly non-existent for all of these sites, and Google expressly indicates that they are definitely in BETA.
I spoke with a friend of mine about how this may all shake out, and here is what we came up with in a brief paragraph.
The real estate industry pulled together strong organizations for communicating listing information. This is no longer a business problem – eroding the need for these current organizations. The future will look similar to the media industry and we will see a rush to digital rights management. Rather than sharing listing information, brokers will hoard it in the form of exclusive listings. We will, in essence, go back to the old days.