Real Estate brokers discovered a compelling new method to market properties for sale, and pursued it with vigor. When it all started, they had poor tools for sending their listings to online media companies. Along came Listhub, a start up company with very talented staff which set the first standard for syndicating broker listings from the MLS over to the media companies. Their mantra was remaining neutral. They offered the service to the MLSs for free to offer to their brokers. With a mouse click, brokers can send their data to more than 40 third party websites that display listing information. WAV Group wrote a paper on the effectiveness of the solution in August of 2008. By all accounts, Listhub was satisfying the needs of the broker, the MLS, the agent, and the third party websites publishing the listings. Home Run!
Then the problems started…
The first problem was competition to Listhub. Magazine companies, virtual tour companies, and other technology start ups began to offer syndication services. Listing information was being sent electronically to multiple sites from multiple sources with no consideration for what happens when the data arrives or changes. The third party websites were forced to build business rules around the display of the data, called feed authority. Generally, if you were paying to feature or display your listings on a site, that is the listing that is displayed. Otherwise, they generally ranked feed authority with Agent first, followed by Broker, Franchise, MLS, magazine, virtual tour, postlets, etc.
This generally solved the issue of duplicate listings. But more problems arose. As the third party website grew and grew, brokers began to concern themselves with the liabilities of sending data out that they could not keep updated. When the data was delivered, it was accurate, but any change in the listing information or status was changed by overwriting the previously submitted data. If the broker was the only person sending the data to a third party, that worked pretty well. However, they could only control their own feed. If they stopped sending a listing, the magazine feed or virtual tour feed or other feed continued to send it. Moreover, some third party websites had no reason to ever remove a listing. More listings = more traffic = more leads. Nobody cared about the accuracy of the data.
Clareity has been awarded a contract to provide a Listing Syndication Security Solution to MOVE, Inc – operators of REALTOR.com, and new owners of Listhub. They announced in a press release today:
SAFE Syndication provides a consolidated system for measuring and reporting on listing distribution activity. In addition, the compliance tools in the product provide independent verification and reporting by the MLS and/or Clareity as a neutral, trusted third party. Unique features of the product include a compliance API for portals and vendors to allow centralized reporting of violations and concerns, a publisher certification management function, and the ability for the MLS to define its own compliance standards for reporting and comparison. SAFE Syndication will also offer additional features in the near future, including innovative ways to find and document unlicensed data uses.
On the very same day, Onboard announced that they have launched their Listing Syndication Security product with MRED, the MLS of Chicago who is among the leading MLSs in the country.
Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) has announced an agreement to license Listings 360°Insight, Onboard Informatics real-time, integrated API data distribution, tracking and business intelligence system, to power its listings distribution efforts.
Real Estate Technology giant, LPS is also launching RE Data Vault – an end to end solution that supports the processing of IDX and Syndicated listing data. Celebrated industry veterans Mike Meyers and Bud Fogel are also launching a solution. In all likelihood, there are probably numerous others.
Suffice it to say that we have entered a new era of Listing Syndication. Call it listing syndication version two. There are numerous ideas about how to solve the ills of syndication and there will be choices for solutions. If you need help choosing one, WAV Group has a highly skilled and informed group of consultants who can help you with vendor selection.
Disclosure – Every company listed in this article has been a WAV Group client at one time or another with the exception of our collaborative relationship with Clareity.