Thursday, April 5, 2012

It’s 9 O’Clock: Do You Know Where Your Listing Is?

In an age where technology is king, the concept of free and widespread listing syndication at first sounded promising to agents and consumers alike.Listing Syndication” is the term used when third parties – including big Internet outfits like Zillow and Trulia -- take local real estate agents’ listings and put them up on their humongous national websites. 

Most local real estate agents thought to themselves ‘Great! – now everyone in the country can see my clients’ home listing; we will get the word out nationally.’ And they were right about that, up to a point. But now some serious scrapping has broken out, and the details are something I think readers will find useful to think about. They affect what happens whenever you look for a local real estate property, or put your own up for sale.  

For area house-hunters, the biggest issue with syndicators is information that is either out of date or inaccurate. To any would-be homebuyer, sites like Zillow or Trulia hit them first: they’re always smack dab at the top of the Google or Bing pages when you look on the web. What isn’t apparent is that such websites don’t always offer all of the homes or data that might be available through a local real estate agent.  

Rather than using feeds that offer each viewer the freshest information possible, syndicators lead those searching for a new home through a dizzy trail of listings. Moreover, if you have ever used them, you probably know that some of those have usually expired. In addition, syndicators are real search engine hogs; local real estate agents have to battle against their Google-engineered pages to get a top spot. As a result, house-hunters may be unable to find what the very local housing market and its most active agents have to offer. 

As well as failing to deliver accuracy to consumers, syndicators may lead consumers in the wrong direction when they do find a house that interests them. If a listing agent is not willing to pay Zillow a monthly fee for the privilege of having listings accurately placed at the top of the search results, a consumer may find a different agent's contact information displayed. It’s easy to see why some agents are fuming about this, but more importantly, it may do damage to the client’s experience. Just because an agent is at the top of a search result does not mean that he or she can answer important questions a buyer may have about that listing.  

Finally, it is not uncommon for consumers to experience confusion when it comes to listing prices. Syndication has in the past led to inaccurate information about prices to be published online, even duplicates with different prices. Yikes.   

However, those slowly evolving issues don’t totally cancel the early promise of wide syndication. Personally, I love the wealth of information syndication provides consumers.  Technology and free access to information are boons to us all.  However, when it comes to buying a house in our area, sometimes there’s no replacement for the human touch.  Call me anytime for the personal service only a local real estate agent can give you!


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