There is a significant gap in the depth of information found on listing portals vs. broker websites today. Aside from marketing acumen and marketing investment, the quality of the experience is simply better on many portal sites. A few years ago, portals dominated brokerages with map search. As brokers got a handle on that, portals evolved with the single, Googlesque search bar. Most good broker sites have gotten a handle on that now too. But the bar continues to move in new directions. The biggest gap seems to be the information contained on the listing detail page. I had a chance to review and discuss this gap with some leading brokers this week and take their temperature on how they plan to address the information gap in 2014. The responses were fascinating.
To begin with, there is a legacy rule that is lingering on many MLS IDX rules regarding commingling MLS data with other data sources. Most of the progressive MLSs have stricken that rule. To all extents and purposes the rule only limited brokers from being competitive. With that rule out of the way, brokers are free to augment listing data with the data that consumers yearn for. Here is the top 5 countdown of features brokers plan to integrate into search or the listing detail pages in 2014.
#5 – Drive Time – 21% of Brokers Plan to Integrate Drive Time Search – A new company called INRIX peeked into real estate this fall offering Drive Time data via API. This company collects commute times from cell phone data at a rate of a trillion bits per second or some crazy number like that. You have experienced this when you map something in your car’s GPS or on your phone and it estimates drive time and updates for traffic. Using the INRIX API, consumers or their agents can provide property search results on areas according to drive time. In most metropolitan areas, commute time to school and/or work play a significant role in selecting a neighborhood.
#4 – School Zone Attendance Search – 29% of Brokers Plan to integrate this feature in 2014. School Zones have been a hot debate because of the legal implications. Brokers have legitimate concerns about liability if the data is not accurate. The good news is that the data is pretty darn accurate today and disclaimers help overcome the liability. Delta Media, Real Estate Digital, Wolfnet, Terabitz, Homes.com, CoreLogic and a host of others have launched support for school zone attendance search. Some of them are powered by data from Onboard Informatics. Franchise brands, large brokers, and portals license the Onboard solution directly – other brokers ask their vendor. It really is information that consumers expect to see on listing detail pages since they are on every portal site.
#3 – AVMs – 39% of brokers plan to launch an AVM in 2014. When Zillow begin publishing the Zestimate, real estate agents and brokers gasped. Many still do. Accuracy is debated issue and will continue to be debated forever. Sometimes AVMs are accurate, sometimes they are not. What we also know if that consumers don’t care one way or another. They are over the judgement phase and have moved on to the expectation phase. If brokers do not display an AVM, they will get it from Zillow anyway. To combat this, brokers asked NAR for help, which fell on the shoulders of REALTORS Property Resource. Since they are not permitted by their MLS agreements to use RPR data for a consumer facing AVM or RVM, they had to find another path. The great news is they have a partner in LPS who has a pretty good AVM, so they are going to offer that to brokers for display on their broker websites. This page has information on the FREE RPR Broker AVM Widget. Across the AVM street, we understand that CoreLogic will also be staging a broker widget – but it has not been formally announced yet. You would expect to see that in AgentAchieve first and available as an API for brokers to integrate with other broker website platforms. Contact AgentAchieve sales for information – AlexJacobs@CoreLogic.com or SMullen@CoreLogic.com. Just about every portal has some type of AVM today – brokers need to catch up.
#2 – Public Record Data – 41% of brokers expect to launch public record data in 2014. Unless restricted by state privacy laws, public record data is expected on listing detail pages by consumers. If you go to a portal, you can bet that the data will be there. Brokers are most familiar with the public record data in REALIST from CoreLogic, but you can also license it from LPS, Courthouse Retrieval, or Software Incubator. It will allow brokers to show the transaction history of a property on listing detail pages to compete with portals. It will also help brokers catch up on SEO by publishing listing detail pages for properties that are not for sale like the portals do.
#1 – Market Trend Data – 45% of brokers expect to launch Market Trend Data in 2014 – In the tradition of saving the best for last, Market Trend data is coming to broker websites in full force in 2014. This information is available from most broker website vendors in the marketplace today, so start your discovery by asking your current website provider. If they do not offer a solution, you will need to go shopping. I suggest that you choose a vendor who is licensing the data from your MLS to graph the trends, otherwise there is conflicting information between the MLS report and what is being displayed on your website. Some companies have even gone further to create market trend video snapshots. What is fundamental about all of these solutions is that they update monthly. Brokers install the feature and forget it.
If you add all of these features together, you wind up with a listing detail page that has the same components as the top portals – but with better data and no pollution from a dizzying array of agent skulls and advertising. Brokers may very well turn the tide and move the consumer back into their own court in the coming year by leveling the playing field with equal features. These solutions are quite a bit more costly, so they are landing on the roadmaps of the largest and most successful firms first. It may be a few years before small and mid-sized firms are able to afford the added costs.
WAV Group would be happy to help you chart your roadmap for 2014. Contact Victor Lund at 805-709-6696