I was asked by Mark Lesswing to give a talk to CCIMLS – the Cape Cod MLS – last week about about “How syndication helps”. I don’t know all the details of the politics in that area, but apparently the MLS has had to turn off their property search portal due to brokers demands, and the MLS is now fighting demands to also turn off listing syndication to other major search portals. My notes from the presentation are below.
Side note: I did the talk over Skype video, which worked surprisingly well. It’s great when a 10 minute talk literally takes 10 minutes, versus the two days it would take traveling there and back. The new Skype v2.8 has noticeably better quality and has added screen sharing. It’s in beta for Mac and you can download it here.
The California Association of Realtors (CAR) recently published their annual survey – “2008 Survey of California Home Buyers”. In former years, this report was called “Internet v. Traditional Buyer Survey”, but they changed it this year. I think this is an important point – they no longer see a distinction between internet and traditional buyers, as well over 80% of buyers now start their search on-line. The study found that:
- Consumers do an average of 6.2 weeks of research on-line before ever contacting a Realtor.
- 90% of those buyers who use the internet also find their agent on-line.
We also know from other studies that consumers are performing their research on multiple sites.
This aligns with consumer search behavior when researching other large ticket items such as cars and flat screen TV’s – consumers will go to multiple sites like consumerreports.org or cnet.com to research, rather than only visiting a manufacturers site like samsung.com or a store site like bestbuy.com.
Want to know:
- What is the market right now so the home can be properly priced.
- The marketing plan to ensure maximum exposure of the property.
- Agent is going to take care of them from start to finish.
If the seller goes to a popular search portal like realtor.com or remax.com and does not see their house listed for sale, that’s going to cause a big problem.
Building a successful real estate search portal takes:
- Marketing (to drive consumers to the site)
- Business model (to pay for and sustain the site)
Agents cannot do the above, and very few brokers can. There needs to be a cooperative local effort, led by someone like an MLS, or there needs to be syndication of the content to companies that have done the above and can drive traffic and exposure to those listings. Some of the MLS vendors – like FBS – are doing work in this area to enable local MLS search portals.
Agents and brokers need to shift their focus from simply providing listing data to efficiently managing and nurturing the consumers search, adding value with things like:
- Local area knowledge (like neighborhoods, schools, community)
- Current local market knowledge (like pricing trends and competition)
- Even broader, macro economic and financing trends (like tax credits and financing programs).
This is what W&R Studios is focused on as a company, starting with our Dwellicious product:
- Helping consumers to organize, share, and discuss their search for homes.
- Giving agents and brokers visibility into that process and tools to add value earlier in the research process.
- Hopefully this gives consumers a better experience and makes agents and brokers more efficient.