Leading San Diego realtors ARG Abbott Realty Group have become the latest high-profile real estate company to reject third party listings syndicates, posting a seven-minute video on YouTube explaining why they will no longer share their listings data with third parties such as Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com.
In a move first reported by Inman News that echoed a similar action by Edina Realty Inc., late last year, ARG president Jim Abbott hit out at the alleged poor service provided by third party listings companies, accusing them of routinely providing inaccurate data, frustrating buyers and sellers, and bringing little value to real estate companies:
“All listing syndicators … act as middlemen and post our valuable listing data alongside the contact information of other agents and brokers who rent ad space on their sites. Usually they do this … while claiming that exposure of our listings in any way on the Internet is a good thing. Time and results prove absolutely that it is not.”
In the video, Abbott claimed that while his company’s listings may have received thousands of hits through their party websites, these rarely resulted in buyers seeking to view their properties, nor did they lead to faster sales or more positive outcomes for the company’s clients. Instead, Abbott claimed that the small number of people who did respond to ARG’s listings through third party syndicates often had untrue or inaccurate information about the homes they had viewed online.
Continuing his attack on the syndicates, Abbott stated:
“These sites represent a failed approach to property marketing and one that frustrates homebuyers, hurts home sellers, and brings little value to the brokers and agents (who) actually own the listings and the creative content attached to them.”
Abbot went on to label third party listing sites as “nothing but slick advertising platforms” accusing them of misleading sellers into thinking the market was swarming with active buyers, while posting inflated for-sale inventories that deceived buyers into thinking markets were flooded with available properties.
ARG’s decision to remove its listings from third party syndicates follows a similar move by Edina Realty last year, which reignited a long standing debate over the benefits that this type of service affords to realtors.
Naturally this latest move will lead to questions about whether or not we can expect to see further withdrawls from third party syndicate sites in future.
San Diego Castles Realty owner Kris Berg is just one realtor who is already considering following ARG and Edina Realty in pulling out. She told Inman News in an interview that her company had struggled with the issue for some time and was taking a “long, hard look” at what to do next.
"From rental scams to outdated or inaccurate listing displays -- even on occasion our own listings posted by other agents portraying them as their own -- it is becoming increasingly time-consuming and difficult to help the consumer sort through the confusion.”
Berg said that the problem for her and many other brokers was that sellers generally believe third party syndicates offer value as they allow listings far greater visibility than they would receive otherwise. As a consequence, many real estate companies fear sellers will ignore them if they pull out.
Of course, such worries did not concern Edina Realty, a company that is backed by no less than Warren Buffet himself and is already the largest real estate company in Wisconsin. And with ARG joining the club and pulling its listings from syndicates, it will be interesting to see if this emboldens other realtors who take a similar view of the likes of Trulia and Zillow.
Brokers and Realtors will have to respond with a strong offline marking program to stand out from the crowd.
Hi Mike - Brad from Zillow here.
It would be very redundant for me to keep responding with the same comments I have responded to from earlier posts on your site regarding this topic, so I'll provide a link that will debunk and hopefully clear up a few myths and rumors for everyone out there.
Take a look at these articles, they share a more detailed response to many of the items and concerns addressed in your post. Here you'll find:
*The Importance of Strategic Distribution
*How Zillow Works With Listing Agents
*Should Your Listings be on the Most-Searched Sites?
*Howard Hanna Teams Up in Marketing Partnership
*Bob Bemis Joins Zillow as VP of Partner Relations
Thanks for your comments, I appreciate there are two sides to every argument.
I personally support ARG and this decision, especially where Realtor.com is concerned. Real estate brokers and their agents are forced to join their local board, or they are not allowed to utilize the local MLS service, even though they are licensed by their state. Thus agents are forced to pay high membership dues to the national trade association or they cannot work. Then that same trade association builds sites like realtor.com and charges agents another high fee to advertise on the site. And agents often spend lots of personal funds to advertise client properties via photos and video, plus their time and efforts in getting the listing. There is no question that listing aggregators have been getting a free ride at the expense of agents and brokers. While national exposure would be a benefit for brokers and agents, the way it is being done now is simply taking advantage of the hard work and legal exposure that the brokers and agents have to deal with.