Weekly Roundup

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Industry news we're reading about this week at Onboard Informatics: Real Estate 1.5: A Second Grader’s Guide to Listing Syndication

“How can you possibly explain to your sellers why you won’t syndicate their home to Zillow?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that question and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shaken my head while reading it.

Online syndication isn’t a must; there needs to be some leverage, some advantage to the seller (and by extension the agent) in doing it. Zillow provides the perfect example thanks to the ubiquitous Zestimate which, as we all know, is the single most important imaginary number in the known universe. (Maybe they should drop the “z” and add the “i” we all forgot about from high school math.)

But even an imaginary Zestimate has value when it benefits the seller. And since it seems to be so complicated to so many, here’s a simple way any agent can determine whether it makes sense to post their listing to Zillow.

As we all learned in second grade, the alligator’s mouth points to the plate with the most cookies. So if the alligator’s mouth is facing the Zestimate, it’s bigger so go ahead and syndicate your listing.

But… if the alligator’s mouth points toward the list price, that means that’s greater than the Zestimate and only a total idiot (or someone who didn’t pass second grade) would syndicate their home so that it looks like it’s overpriced.

Easy enough?

Inman: The Next Generation: people not technology

It’s not about the status update — it is about the people. Social media is about connecting and engaging with people. It’s not about the technology. It is about the people.

Never before have we lived in an era in which we are so connected with people. How we market and brand ourselves has changed dramatically because of social media, and we can’t pretend it away anymore. Let’s be honest, a few years ago a lot of us were closing our eyes and hoping “this Facebook thing would just go away.”

It’s not going away. Social media is about so much more than how many times a day you should tweet. It is about connecting with people in a way that people want to be connected. It is about having an incredible tool to stay in touch with clients — to make sure that YOU are the one they call again to be their agent and that you aren’t like 90 percent of consumers who say they are going to use the same Realtor but really never do (*NAR stat). It’s about having a fantastic communication tool to recruit some of the best agents in town to your brokerage.

Realtown: Inman MLS Track Takeaways

Here are some of the takeaways from the Inman Real Estate Connect MLS track:

  • Vendors entering the industry are still frustrated by non-standardized data, the difficult path to be approved to receive data, and the variation in fees -which can range from $0 to $35,000 per year in different markets. (Joel MacIntosh, CEO of Wolfnet Technologies)
  • RESO, working on real estate data standards, has been funded by over 50 charter members. This is a great starting point, but I can't believe that more haven't stepped up. Please do so, if you haven't already.
  • The holy grail of real estate data standards, the "data dictionary" of over 500 fields and associated values was approved earlier this year as a part of RETS. Vendors and MLS customers should be discussing how quickly this will be implemented (ASAP!) and the plan for offering old and new in parallel to help vendors transition.
  • There's a RESO workgroup to create a new means of moving the data around (a "transport"). This will be a new standard API (application programming interface) for moving the data around. MLSs should get committments from their vendors on getting this implemented after it is approved - hopefully at the RETS meeting this fall.
  • Real estate software developers have no interest in proprietary APIs for moving listing and related data around - hopefully vendors that have been working on proprietary APIs got the message loud and clear at Inman this year. I know this probably wasn't welcome news for some.
  • Fees for access to data were discussed, but not with dollar details that would be a problem from an antitrust perspective. Takeaways were: create logical policies around cost recovery. Cost recovery is about more than bandwidth and server resources - there are significant administrative costs. Tiered pricing was discussed to accomodate different levels of use and Sam Scott had some great advice: "It's hard to get people to pay for the past activity. Better to charge for the future - you don't want to have to tell people they went over their limit and now owe this much more and be in a collections posture."
  • Social media, especially Facebook is one of the most effective new ways to reach subscribers with a message. Clareity's Amy Geddes made a great point:"I use it as a listening tool. I don't think people use it enough as a listening tool. It's good for broadcasting but it's important to listen to subscribers. People are surprised - pleasantly - when they complain and you respond well." Some MLSs have people dedicated to monitoring social media for subscriber issues.