Brokerages publish listings to third party portals as a method of advertising homes for sale. As we mentioned in our paper, the Syndication Rats Nest (Download Report), every portal displays listings differently. Moreover, portals apply different rules on the same listing if it comes from a different data source.
Confused? You are not alone.
Portals are constantly battling on multiple fronts. They are innovating constantly to return better value to consumers and advertisers. On any given day they segment their consumer traffic to test innovation strategies. Sometimes your listings are folded into the mix in ways that you did not intend. If you are not monitoring your listings, your inactions may undermine the effectiveness of your online advertising.
Don’t Syndicate Without and Agreement
Publishers may only display your listings in line with the license agreement you have in place with them. If you are a franchise broker, the data sent from the franchise to the publisher is governed by the agreement between the franchise and the portal (i.e. Coldwell Banker and Zillow). Your MLS may have an agreement with Listhub who has agreements with their publishers. Some MLSs send data directly to publishers under a direct agreement. Some MLSs may syndicate one way in your local MLS area but data share with another MLS that syndicates the same data without your consent. Publishers have no alternative but to install a trumping order that may oppose or violate the agreement you have in place. It’s tricky and confusing.
Single Source Syndication
The best practice for brokers is to only syndicate your listings to a publisher from one source with one agreement. This fixes the problem with trumping. Don’t blame publishers if you send the same listing from multiple sources and they choose to display a listing from the wrong feed. How would they know which listing feed source to display from?
Audit Your Listings
Each firm will need to figure out what the best frequency is for auditing listings. Large firms hire WAV Group or dedicate staff to monthly audits (1000+ listings). Midsized firms (250 to 1000 listings) audit quarterly. Small firms with fewer listings may choose bi-annual or annual.
As the seller’s representative, your firm is 100% responsible for all advertising. Controlling how advertising content is used has become more and more difficult in the digital age. With good policies and agreements in place, your firm has the best possible chance of limiting abuses that may compromise your seller or create liability risk for your firm.