I had the honor of working with the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® today. They hosted a Town Hall asking for input on whether or not their brokers would like them to negotiate a Direct Feed from the Zillow Group on their behalf. Michael Bustamante did a great job of framing the issues that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon.
While the issue is anything, but clear cut, there were interesting questions posed that may be helpful for you to use in your market as you try to think your way through your market’s decision about direct feeds.
1. Potential Need/Impact – What percentage of your market’s listings are already being syndicated through franchises? In this market, more than half of the listings were being syndicated through about 7 franchises. You may want to check and see how many of your franchises already have a direct feed in place. This will help you understand what percentage of your listings are actually affected by a direct feed coming from the MLS.
2. How many are participating? If you currently have Listhub in your marketplace, you can get a sense of how many of your listings are currently being syndicated to Zillow and Trulia.
3. What are the trade-offs? The Zillow Group is offering priority placement for Listing Agents, prominent MLS attribution and a few other goodies. Ask your members how important these trade-offs are for them. Each MLS will likely negotiate their own terms, but you can begin with the program that has been outlined publicly.
4. How committed are your brokers? How important is Zillow and Trulia to your broker’s success? There are a lot of schools of thought are the role and importance of third party sites in broker success. Poll your brokers and find out where they come out on this topic. If they believe these sites are an important part of their marketing mix then the next question is whether they want the MLS to negotiate a program on their behalf or if they would prefer to go it alone.
5. Longer Term implications – While many brokers believe that Zillow and Trulia help them secure listings, some are worried about the long-term impact of such a fundamental partnership. Ask them what their longer-term concerns are. What happens when third party sites have data that is high quality as broker sites? What could happen to pricing if third party sites continue to increase traffic? What other products/services could they offer and would they be competitive with your brokers? There may be ways to address some of these longer-term implications in your contract while still enabling your brokers to take advantage of the marketing support from third party sites.