New search sites take stage, raising the audible in an opera of compliance and online home listings. The audience recoils form this baffling aria that shatters the glass of logic.
The question of where a listing goes, how it appears, and who touches it reverberates through the hall without intermission.
That is the question
A seller hires an agent. The agent is given one charge: Sell the home. Sell it fast. Sell it clean. To accomplish this, the agent should go Ansel Adams on the home and push that gallery of pictures out to every destination on the Web â€“ even the funky ones that reek of body odor and weed. They too draw a crowd.
The task seems arduous. But that’s not the seller’s concern. It’s what they pay five figures in commission to their agent to accomplish. Get the home viewed and get it sold so they can move on with their life.
If the agent stuck to the playbill, and focused solely on their charge, the question of where listings end up would not be nearly so fraught.
The mortal coil
Sellers don’t understand the toil of agent marketing. They are unaware of the mortal coil of politics that surrounds real estate. The chorus of rules, policies, and possession. And why should they? Sellers aren’t authors. Or songwriters. Their homes are not literary works. Copyright infringement, data protection, discriminatory use is foreign conversation had by those whose grunt and sweat of a weary life that is not theirs.
So when they read about real estate blogs and new stories people and get immersed in the conversation over third party sites like DotHomes scraping data and displaying their homes in new places they never heard of that give offer yet a new audience a chance to buy their home, they give pause and wonder what is so rotten in the real state of Denmark.
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
Brokers want tight control over listing data. Kevin from 3 Oceans intelligently opened up this discussion recently and fielded an assortment of comments on this issue. They are:
Brokers need to keep track of where the information is to make sure it’s displayed properly.
They are concerned about some third world website screwing up the data about the home.
They are concerned about how their brand is portrayed.
To the seller, this position is mired in the heartache of a thousand natural shocks as none have anything to do with the act at hand â€“ the one centered around the premise by which the seller hired the Realtor â€“ to get that house marketed, get it seen and get it sold so they can move on with their life. No discussion regarding data protection was ever brought into that conversation.
So the question must be asked, if the cast of representatives charged with caretaking the needs of sellers are concerned with tracking pictures and info of their clients homes and worried about whether or not they are being displayed properly, shouldn’t they start with their own websites where their visitors right now still have to machete their way through a tangled UI to encounter too many homes without pictures and enough data?
If brokers, charged with caretaking the needs of their sellers, are worried about potential damage to their brands through third party distribution, let’s first cast the spotlight on the destruction of their brands occurring right under their noses by their agents who have beset them with the slings and arrows of brand damaging mangled messaging.
If brokers are concerned about third party sites getting the data wrong, isn’t getting it wrong better than not getting it at all? If a buyer sees a home listed on some obscure sites and likes it, twenty seconds on Google will get the interested party over to the safety of an IDX feed and all will be right with the world.
MLS are, and will likely remain, the core listings utility. Indeed, I believe, contrary to conventional wisdom, they will become increasingly more important and more powerful. They must. But to do so, they must stop wasting time freaking out about the small satellites in their orbit and instead, concentrate on the matter at hand, getting those homes out everywhere for the world audience to see.
To be or not to be compliant
Would it not be nobler to accept new entrants that scrape, borrow and bend rules than to take arms against this sea of troubles and by opposing” end them? Sellers would think so.
Right now, as For Sale signs wither in heat of an anxious market, galactic distribution isn’t a problem, it’s an imperative. Sellers need to get out of their homes and onto the next phase of their lives and they are looking to the Three Tenors of real estate — the agent, the broker and the MLS — to do whatever they can to make that happen. Even if it means placing homes on the hood of car 55 at Daytona. Or the index page of some classifieds site run by a couple opium freaks holed up in a Quonset hut on the steppe in Kazakhstan.
In other words, wherever a buyer’s eyeball may come across it.
The seller is not paying to be mired in real estate squabbles. When they hire an agent, when they say they want their home listed, it’s for a reason. That reason is to move on with their life. And the problem in real estate is that most agents leave the listing appointment with the listing rather than the objective â€“ to get their client moving on up and out to that next phase.
For those who step out and realize that compliance to the greater task, the greater value, is not in the possession of data â€“ something no entity can ever really own, but rather, in possession of their client’s desires. Compliance to that is something real estate could own for a lifetime.
To die, to sleep. Perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.
* Through my discourse, I offer the voice of the consumer in an effort to assist, not combat, the industry. The goal is to create dialogue and debate for the greater good. Change and betterment arise from tension. I stand for a better real estate industry. One that welcomes in its customers with a new and better agenda. After all, their payment for services makes it possible for all of us to have careers.