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There’s always something to howl about

Really, What If He’s Not Wrong?

A follow-up to an article on syndication I wrote just a short time ago.  Keep in mind that I’ve never even met Jim Abbott, and am not promoting his company.  But I’m listening harder now to him, and as he speaks his words continue to etch a path that I really believe warrants all of our attention.

At the end he does make a request.  In San Diego you can actually withhold syndication on a property by property basis.  On the MLS form simply check “No Syndication.”  Try it.  I discussed it yesterday with a client, and I’m listing her home without giving away all the info to you know who.  Oh, and I truly believe if buyers come to my site to learn about this property, even if they don’t want this particular home, it will greatly increase the likelihood of my working with them in the future.

Want to skin some cats, anyone?

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  • 50 comments

    50 Comments so far

    1. Jeff Brown May 2nd, 2012 9:58 am

      Considering most of the Realtor rank ‘n file would be shocked to find out who controls Realtor.com, I doubt there’ll be much of movement. On the other hand, It’s the broker/owners who have the wherewithal to rock this particular boat.

      If we were magically able to turn back the clock, meaning listed properties would be found on the MLS or agents/brokers own sites, the results for buyers/sellers wouldn’t change, period. This issue is colossally stupid and inane, not to mention embarrassing for the industry. Gotta think business schools will use this chapter in our industry’s history as a case study in, Huh? What?

    2. Don Reedy, San Diego, CA May 2nd, 2012 10:09 am

      This issue is colossally stupid and inane, not to mention embarrassing for the industry.

      Jeff, all we can do, those of us who are the industry, is put the brakes on. I don’t want to be represent the business school case study you rightfully imagine above. So for me personally…a no brainer.

    3. Jeff Brown May 2nd, 2012 10:13 am

      I’m 100% with you on this. It is a no-brainer.

    4. Dylan Darling May 2nd, 2012 10:25 am

      ARG took a step in the right direction. Let the giants know that things need to change. I’m so sick of “But Zillow shows this home being priced at this…”. I always ask, “oh yeah, well has Zillow ever been to your home, or even been to Bend Oregon?”

    5. Teri Lussier May 3rd, 2012 8:14 am

      The arguments Jim presents- Jim seems like a really nice guy and extremely professional btw- can also be made for IDX syndication in general. If impressions and hits don’t matter to getting the house sold, and I’m not arguing they do, and if a broker really wants to control the quality of buyer inquiry and interaction re/ the home- a noble cause seeing as there are any number of facebook groups devoted to agents bashing the agent on the other side of every transaction (although here’s a hint: if every transaction is fraught with whoa and strife, it’s probably you)- then the next step is to pull their listings out of all IDX syndication, not just three aggregator sites, right? Sell your own listings, no cooperating brokers welcome. And some days that sounds like a very smart idea.

      I understand the frustration and dislike with these sites, I’m a user but not a fan but, sigh, I *still* don’t understand how pulling listings from only these three sites answers Jim’s stated concerns. It does answer other concerns, like the ethics of selling ad space back to the people who give them the data to begin with- I get that. But that’s not what Jim is complaining about, at least not to his clients…

      And I’ll eagerly await a response. :)

    6. Don Reedy May 3rd, 2012 8:50 am

      Teri, let me give you an example, that for me simply says it all.

      I take a listing for 123 Elm Street in Oceanside. Now, if you Google 123 Elm Street in Oceanside BEFORE I list, you will see that Zillow has a page on the property, as does Trulie, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc. All of the information that exists CURRENTLY for 123 Elm Street is old.

      And now, I’m going to list that home, both for the benefit of the seller, and for my own benefit.

      IF I SYNDICATE, the current data on 123 Elm appears on page one of Google under Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc….because my information (added to all the other syndicated material) brings THEM the SEO they need to be first.

      But IF I DON’T SYNDICATE (To anyone, by the way), MY SITE, MY BLOG POST ABOUT 123 ELM, MY IDX MATERIAL, crafted by me for the benefit of my seller, will appear as the only accurate, current information on that listing. I will be found on page one, and my seller will be providing potential buyers with accurate, well marketed materials from the person they hired to do exactly that.

      And….Zillow, Trulia…etc…will have old, relatively useless information that should be cast away by the public.

      Just to make myself clear, we CAN do this in San Diego. I can withhold the syndication of my listing to everyone. But if I’m as good as I think I am with internet marketing, and if Google is as good as they are at providing up-to-date information, then I believe my seller’s info will be portrayed exactly as it should be.

      Let me say that of course I realize that Zillow provides information in a format that is attractive, and all the Realtor world should do what Zillow has done with us…steal/take back the great ideas we started, display them on our sites and in our marketing materials, and supplant what has been stolen from us.

      I’m looking forward to seeing if this strikes a chord in any of you….

    7. Teri Lussier May 3rd, 2012 9:46 am

      > IF I DON’T SYNDICATE (To anyone, by the way)

      It does not go to any broker IDX? That makes sense to me in terms of Jim’s complaints about syndication. That’s not what I heard Jim saying, so thanks for clarifying that.

    8. Jeff Brown May 3rd, 2012 11:31 am

      Teri — I disagree, as I don’t think IDX is akin to syndicating our date to ZTR. IDXs are merely sharing within the brokerage community. It’s like you sharing dinner with a family member. IDX is nothing like what ARG is speaking of.

      Don — Please clarify for me. Is ARG also against IDXs for member brokers/agents?

    9. Don Reedy May 3rd, 2012 11:53 am

      Jeff,

      I am trying to contact ARG about this, but MY opinion is the same as yours. I want my fellow real estate agents to share the data I have on our MLS. I know it’s agents who sell homes, and I want to market my listing to them.

      I don’t want my listing data to be used and abused by ZTR. Teri, think back to before there was a ZTR, but we had our MLS’s.

      Syndication, Teri, is as Jeff indicates, two completely different birds.

    10. Jim Abbott May 3rd, 2012 2:03 pm

      Don, Teri and All: First let me state how much I appreciate the thoughtful, reasoned posts on bloodhound. Teri, ARG still uses an IDX feed for the following reasons:

      The other cooperative brokers who participate either as VOW’s or traditional bricks and mortar companies are local. I feel that on balance, they are qualified to sell my listings, and in turn, I, theirs.

      Most importantly, the data ceases when the property is sold and so isn’t available forever.

      Is IDX a perfect solution? No, it isn’t. I have suggested that our regional MLS -Sandicor- frame it’s new consumer site in such a way that each member broker could have their office listings populate a sidebar and use the site itself as an IDX. We’d all save a bunch of money, the consumer would get my office listings when accessing from my site and we’d all be happy!

      Hope this helps, and by the way, I am happy to talk on the phone with anyone who needs pointers for clients or agents on Life After Listings Syndication.

      Let me close with this fact: We now have nearly 3 months of solid data that tells me unequivocally that ending syndication is not harmful to our clients and us. It’s a huge benefit.

      There’s too much data to type in here, but I am happy to chat with anyone about it.

      Best,

      JA

    11. Teri Lussier May 3rd, 2012 6:43 pm

      Hey Jeff-

      I think that the initial consumer experience is very similar whether they hit the local broker IDX or ZTR and that was my point. They call whatever phone number is available and hope for the best. The only folks who call me and know exactly who they are talking to find me at TheBrickRanch, and my IDX is hard to find over there. All that blahblahblah leaves an impression, I suppose. ;)

      >Is IDX a perfect solution? No, it isn’t. I have suggested that our regional MLS -Sandicor- frame it’s new consumer site in such a way that each member broker could have their office listings populate a sidebar and use the site itself as an IDX. We’d all save a bunch of money, the consumer would get my office listings when accessing from my site and we’d all be happy!

      Hi Jim-

      That might be a nice solution, actually. Do you think that would happen? Is it meeting with resistance? You know, if all our displays were the same, like ye olden MLS phone book, at least the consumer would know when they were on a Realtor’s site.

      Jim, I have to say I wasn’t really convinced of the importance of this issue- seems like putting toothpaste back in the tube- but after re-reading your comment, I’m starting to come around. Thanks. :)

    12. Jeff Brown May 3rd, 2012 7:20 pm

      Hey Teri — I think each agent/broker should be allowed to have their own separate IDX on their private site, if they so choose. If your idea were implemented, several teams would see their income slaughtered over night.

    13. Teri Lussier May 3rd, 2012 7:51 pm

      Oh I didn’t say I’d like it Jeff, and it would never fly anyway- that is also putting toothpaste back in the tube.

    14. Jeff Brown May 3rd, 2012 7:59 pm

      When we all check the box that says NO for syndicating our listings, it won’t take long for the toothpaste to put itself very neatly back in the tube. :) ZTR will disappear like steam in the air. If you’re not lookin’ you’ll miss it when it happens.

    15. Don Reedy May 3rd, 2012 8:03 pm

      Okay, just another gut check for me…and hopefully for y’all.

      It’s that simple. The data is ours. Ours. We gave it away for nada. ZTR took it and turned it into a money making enterprise.

      Don’t care about what’s happened. I want my/our independence and intellectual property back. If we stop syndicating, we will put RENapster to bed…permanently.

    16. Jeff Brown May 3rd, 2012 8:22 pm

      And there ya go.

    17. jeffrey May 4th, 2012 12:44 am

      Don, I am a bit confused on your post about ZTR having a profile of every property which will show ahead of your site in search results (I am assuming because of the sheer size of their sites?) if you syndicate the listing, but if you do not syndicate then you seem to imply your website content will show ahead of ZTR in search results–I am a bit out of the loop on ZTR and how they work, but are you saying their property profiles will not show in search results if the property listing is not syndicated–i.e. a search of the property address would not produce their pages on the property from the archives?

      Or a you saying that if someone is searching for houses for sale in Oceanside, that since ZTR does not know the property is currently listed since you did not syndicate it–your pages will show in search results and ZTR’s will not because they do not know the house is listed?

      hope this makes sense–that is what I am trying to ask,
      as I wrote this post, it got a bit more confusing to me how it might all actually work.

      jeffrey

    18. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 4:26 am

      I have not paid any attention to any of this since it first came up, which is why I’m not doing this in a full-blown post: I don’t want to give the impression that I am informed about the particulars. My big-picture position has never changed, and I don’t see how it ever could change.

      So: Listing syndication exposes the home to more potential buyers, which is good for the seller. My job as the listing agent is to do everything that is good for the seller, even if I think it might not be good for me. I don’t believe listing syndication is bad for me as the listing agent, but it would not matter if I did. I am fiduciary to my client, and that means I must put my client’s interests ahead of all others, including my own.

      > In San Diego you can actually withhold syndication on a property by property basis.

      You can do that here in Phoenix, too.

      > I truly believe if buyers come to my site to learn about this property, even if they don’t want this particular home, it will greatly increase the likelihood of my working with them in the future.

      That would be to your benefit. I don’t see how it is to the seller’s benefit.

      A true benefit to the seller would be providing a link back to a single-property web site with much more information than any MLS system or any Realty.bot can offer. This will have been made impossible by MLS rules. It used to be doable here in Phoenix, but that particular loophole was sewn up by Bob Bemis, now employed by Zillow.

      Any money you give to these gonophs seems to me to be entirely wasted. But that is quite literally their business. Our business is screwed up because of the co-broke, and if we’re going to fix anything, we should divorce the real estate commissions.

    19. Jessica May 4th, 2012 6:49 am

      >So: Listing syndication exposes the home to more potential buyers, which is good for the seller.

      Not necessarily. IMO, you can be overexposed.

      Consumer Bob picking up the phone and calling any Tom, Dick or Harry that’s featured on ZTR (and lives 60 miles away) isn’t necessarily in my clients best interest. The agent on the other end (assuming they actually answer their phone or check their e-mail) doesn’t care if they show my clients house or not. They just want to show and sell something. Anything. Doesn’t matter. They’ll get paid.

      I do care. I care very much.

      I want my listing to sell. Not the one next door. Not the one down the street. Not the one clear across town.

      My listing. That’s the only home I care about.

      I’ve shown plenty of my listings that are in $200,000 – 300,000 price range (and that’s a lot in my market!) and then let another agent write it up — no strings attached.

      This has nothing to do with double dipping. It has nothing to do with earning both sides of the transaction. It has nothing to do with procuring cause. It has nothing to do with getting “belly to belly” with more buyers…

      What it’s about — at least for me — is: winners want the ball. And they want to run all the way to end zone with it.

      When that buyer calls, I’m the best shot at getting them excited about seeing the home. Or, saving my clients time by weeding out people who wouldn’t be interested in it (once the home has been explained in detail).

    20. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 7:09 am

      > Consumer Bob picking up the phone and calling any Tom, Dick or Harry that’s featured on ZTR (and lives 60 miles away) isn’t necessarily in my clients best interest.

      These are all forays against the subjunctive: Bad things that might happen but which either have not happened or which you know nothing about. What we do know for sure is that a buyer cannot buy a seller’s home until he discovers it, so the greater the number of paths to that discovery, the better the seller’s interests have been served.

      The argument in play seems to be this: “The less buyers know, the better.” Is that the way you buy things? Of course not.

      Sorry to disagree, but I will never side against the free flow of information. From the trivial to the absolutely vital, my life depends on it.

    21. Jessica May 4th, 2012 7:46 am

      >Sorry to disagree, but I will never side against the free flow of information. From the trivial to the absolutely vital, my life depends on it.

      What’s the website address for the 24/7/365 webcam that you have up in your bedroom? I’m sure you’re denying some online porn producer a revenue source. And I’m sure having unlimited access could make a huge difference to their bottom line. Might even help improve their quality of life. :)

      All joking aside…

      Some information is private.

      And some information is public.

      And some information should be a bit more exclusive.

      I’d prefer to make my case and then let my clients decide what’s in their best interest (after hearing the pros an cons)– individually. But we don’t currently have that option in my MLS.

      “I don’t think I’ve ever said this in public, but I promise you it’s an oversight that should have been obvious all along.

      Everything Bloodhound is about being as independent as you can possibly be.

      That doesn’t mean you don’t engage with other people. What it means is never being in a situation where you have to put up with other people, whether you like it, hate it — or you want to kill someone because of it.”

      http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=7488

      – Greg Swann

      I agree. And my clients shouldn’t have to put up with anyone who is impeding or constipating the process either.

    22. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 8:30 am

      > All joking aside…

      The argument is a Specious Analogy, but I have been completely forthcoming about my sex life. It’s not actually anyone’s business, and I am all D, no I, but people are exceptionally bad at making love, so I do what I can to help.

      > Might even help improve their quality of life.

      I’m writing a book about making immaculate love in a committed relationship, and any woman who reads it will never think about her orgasms in the same old way ever again.

      > http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/?p=7488

      Also a Specious Analogy. The post is about agents becoming their own brokers.

      > let my clients decide what’s in their best interest

      Either people buy from the Realty.bot inventory or they don’t. If they don’t, it makes no difference. But if they do, and if the seller’s house is not represented in that inventory, then the seller’s interests have been betrayed.

      This is the equation from Chapter 7 of Man Alive!:

      1 > 0 > –1

      Don’t-buy-from-Realty.bots = 0, no gain, no loss.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-represented = 1, at least a potential gain.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-not-represented = –1, no possibility of a gain.

      I don’t think there is any way around this argument. The house probably will not sell because of a Realty.bot listing, but that statement is similarly true for every other arrow in the marketing quiver. But if it is not represented in the Realty.bot inventory, it cannot be sold by that means. The seller’s objective is not to not-sell the home, so if the seller fails to avail himself of every possible means of attracting buyers, he is acting contrary to his own interests.

    23. Don Reedy May 4th, 2012 9:55 am

      Here’s a view from another side of the glass.

      Data does not equal information; does not equal knowledge; does not equal “our fiduciary responsibility to our clients.

      ZTR et al deliver data for sure. Then, their “information”, which is what I believe most of us think is of benefit to our clients, ends up being…well, not so valid. Add to that the experience and local knowledge required to fully activate our highest fiduciary duties, and you are left with the unmistakable conclusion that (my twist now) syndication comes nowhere close to providing our fiduciary duty to the client.

    24. Jessica May 4th, 2012 10:46 am

      >It’s not actually anyone’s business,

      And why is that? Because it’s your intimate details? Your love? Your pain? Your struggles? Your joy? Your pleasures? Because it’s your life?

      It’s their life too.

      And they should have that choice. Whether you (or anyone else) believes it be counterproductive or not. Personally? I believe we’re violating our duty to our clients by letting bad information linger. By making things more complicated than they have to be.

      >Also a Specious Analogy. The post is about agents becoming their own brokers.

      Agents becoming their own brokers is the reason that particular post was written. But I would dare say the beliefs that I copied from it are FAR GREATER than just obtaining additional licensing, right? It just seems very unlike you to be so narrow in your scope/application.

      “Here’s a definition that will do no good at all: A vendorslut is a sleazoid who takes your money and gives you next to nothing in exchange for it — usually while binding you to an outrageously unfair contract.” – Greg Swann

      I’d say: a company that takes (or allows) your data, hard work and intellectual property and doesn’t put you in a position to run with the ball and help do your job more effectively – but at the same time increases your liability and binds you to a one-sided contract is: a vendorslut. The sluttiest slut of them all.

      But that’s just me.

      As far as your book goes….

      I don’t have much ‘experience’ with how good or bad people are in bed. I really couldn’t tell you if a book like yours is needed or not.

      And you know what? I’m okay with that. Because just like real estate listings: I don’t necessarily think that spreading oneself all over the place is truly in ones best interest. I’ve only had one partner –my entire life (my husband). That’s it. Guys (and even a few gals!) have told me: “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

      But they’re wrong.

      They don’t know what THEY are missing. See, I know the key. I don’t have to download and read a book. The key is: develop virtue love, capacity for life and appreciation for your spouse. Great love making is experienced in the soul–with two people who love each other…

      And it keeps going strong (even stronger!)…when the body gets weak and can’t perform.

      Without love? Without soul rapport? Without harmony in the relationship? You might as well be two animals on the Discovery channel.

      But that’s just me too.

    25. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 11:06 am

      Jessica, I love you, but nothing you have said so far has anything to do with anything I’ve said. There is no benefit to a seller in limiting the number of potential buyers who can come to be aware of that seller’s home, when it is for sale. None. To the contrary, the more hooks you have in the water, the greater your chances of landing a fish. I’m not arguing for the Realty.bots. I’ve done more damage to them than anyone in our business, going back six years now. I’m arguing against agents deliberately frustrating their clients’ marketing efforts, which is a betrayal of trust and just plain bad salesmanship.

    26. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 11:07 am

      > syndication comes nowhere close to providing our fiduciary duty to the client.

      Which client, the seller or the buyer? You’re making a strong case for yourself as a buyer’s agent. Syndication exposes the seller’s home to more potential buyers, which cannot be a betrayal of the seller’s interests. To the contrary, failing to expose the seller’s home to as many potential buyers as possible is a betrayal of the seller’s interests.

      Repeating myself:

      Either people buy from the Realty.bot inventory or they don’t. If they don’t, it makes no difference. But if they do, and if the seller’s house is not represented in that inventory, then the seller’s interests have been betrayed.

      This is the equation from Chapter 7 of Man Alive!:

      1 > 0 > –1

      Don’t-buy-from-Realty.bots = 0, no gain, no loss.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-represented = 1, at least a potential gain.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-not-represented = –1, no possibility of a gain.

      I don’t think there is any way around this argument. The house probably will not sell because of a Realty.bot listing, but that statement is similarly true for every other arrow in the marketing quiver. But if it is not represented in the Realty.bot inventory, it cannot be sold by that means. The seller’s objective is not to not-sell the home, so if the seller fails to avail himself of every possible means of attracting buyers, he is acting contrary to his own interests.

      You can either refute that argument or you can’t.

      I’m not going to say another word in this thread until someone addresses the actual issue.

    27. Jessica May 4th, 2012 12:28 pm

      Greg, you know that you’re very dear to me too, but I disagree with your statement. And, I see a few contradictions, but that’s not my job to explore them. It’s my job to sell houses.

      >But if it is not represented in the Realty.bot inventory, it cannot be sold by that means.

      You’re right. I can’t refute that statement.

      But you know what? Refuting your logical statement isn’t the point.

      The point is: I am convinced that ZTR and their ilk get in the way. That they hurt my clients chances of selling. They make things way more complicated than they have to be.

      And that’s all I need to know.

      >The seller’s objective is not to not-sell the home, so if the seller fails to avail himself of every possible means of attracting buyers, he is acting contrary to his own interests.

      Well, if that’s the case then sellers (and agents) are always acting against their own best interest.

      I mean: you can stand on the corner of the street and twirl an “Open House” sign and dance a jig for the passing cars.

      You can hire a plane with a banner of the home trailing behind it. Send it flying over the stadium or the little league match.

      You can pass out little business cards of the house at the grocery store…

      You can have a custom neon sign for getting noticed during the long dark night…

      Or, you can realize: it’s actually in your client’s best interest to concentrate on what actually works. What gives them the best opportunity of selling their home.

      What’s actually in the sellers best interest is: getting the potential buyer in the hands of a professional who is good at their job: selling homes. And doing that as often as possible. Not some agent who lives 60 miles away and decides to let the listing agent (me) “take it off their hands” because they can’t find a referral agent down this way who is willing to pay 25%, and they sure as heck aren’t going to drive down here to show it.

      What’s in the owners best interest is relative.

      Results are not.

    28. Greg Swann May 4th, 2012 3:56 pm

      >> But if it is not represented in the Realty.bot inventory, it cannot be sold by that means.

      > You’re right. I can’t refute that statement.

      Thank you.

    29. Jim Abbott May 4th, 2012 4:09 pm

      Jessica and Greg, maybe you two should move in together. I have some lovely condos in downtown San Diego that would make the perfect love nests. They’re not syndicated, so may I just email you a list?

      Have a great weekend everybody!

      JA

    30. Jessica May 4th, 2012 5:16 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Not interested in love nests or San Diego. Greg is a wonderful person that I admire and deeply respect, but both of us are very happily taken. So, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and take your comment as kidding gone a bit too far, or maybe even a little projecting on your part — and not as an implication of me being promiscuous.

      But you might be on to something: Love Nests. If you hurry you can go register: discreetdwellings.com! Maybe you go with a slogan like: “We don’t syndicate, but we’ll gladly help you fornicate.”

      Now, you have a lovely weekend also!

    31. Alex Cortez May 5th, 2012 7:54 pm

      One of the most interesting posts that I’ve read on BloodHound, particularly the comments that followed. My two cents don’t add much value, but although I don’t think the ZTR’s of the world are of much value to me, it is not in my client’s (seller) best interest to NOT syndicate it. Sure, syndication may be a wash and it is highly unlikely to actually procure a qualified buyer, but as Gregg so eloquently summarized it: 1 > 0 > –1

    32. Don Reedy May 6th, 2012 7:00 am

      Greg and Alex,

      I completely get 1>0>-1. But the data you input into the equation to get that result is the essence of my point, and perhaps we disagree.

      First, if ZTR did not exist, buyers would be exposed to the same data, only as I point out, it would be more useful information, and it would come from local IDX’s and me. I believe my crafted information would be more useful to both buyers and my seller than is the current ZTR data.

      Next, since ZTR does exist, the question is whether withholding MY information from them, but posting the same data from my own site hurts anyone? And, of course, my data is actually crafted into useful, local knowledge that benefits both seller and buyer.

      It’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance all over again. My point is that the QUALITY of my information will and should be vastly better for both seller and buyer than ZTR data.

      GIGO (garbage in garbage out)…and I was taught to wash my hands, keep the data clean, the information simple and accurate, and apply that to solving my seller’s and buyers problems. Syndication is (in mathematical terms) division by zero…and should be just as illegal.

    33. Greg Swann May 6th, 2012 8:30 am

      > First, if ZTR did not exist

      > and should be just as illegal.

      Nirvana Fallacy, the logical fallacy of idealization.

      > buyers would be
      > it would be more useful information
      > my crafted information would be more useful

      These are all idealizations: “If six was nine.” The words “would be” invoke a subjunctive state, a world that, by the admission made by the words themselves, is not correspondent to existential reality. Worlds not in evidence are worlds that don’t exist. In the world that really exists, you do not get to control where other people shop for real estate.

      > the question is whether withholding MY information from them, but posting the same data from my own site hurts anyone?

      If there is a ready, willing and able buyer shopping for a home like your seller’s property,

      And if that buyer will make a selection from an inventory you do not directly control,

      And if, on your advice, your seller’s home is not represented in that inventory, even though it could be at the cost of zero money, effort and time,

      Then, necessarily, the property that buyer purchases cannot be your seller’s home.

      How is that not an injury to your seller?

    34. Jim Abbott May 6th, 2012 8:53 am

      For Jeff, regarding how non-syndicated listings get more attention than syndicated one.
      Jeff, here’s my anecdotal tale with a truism as stated by Zillow: Most Zillow visitors arrive via an address search. I also believe this to be true.

      I have mentioned on this blog a unit I recently sold in the building downtown where I live. We had the listing on the market for 667 days. Less than two weeks after we unplugged from ZTR, we had FOUR offers. There was no price reduction, no re-listing as a new, no change of any kind.

      I accompanied virtually every showing, and in assisting the eventual buyers’ broker on their first visit, the buyer pulled me aside and whispered, “Ive been looking for a place like this for a year and a half!” I replied, “That’s funny, because it’s been looking for you for two!”

      Long story short, they were searching by address. With the lisitng syndicated, the calls never got answered by a competent broker who could discuss and represent the property with some degree of expertise.

      Out of syndication, it popped right up on page 1 where these buyers found it as a free standing search result. They sent it to their broker. She called me. They looked, made a cash offer and closed in less than 3 weeks. The other three offers were also from good agents in our immediate marketplace.

      Coincidence? I don’t think so and this is exactly what the syndicators are worried about.

    35. Jeff Brown May 6th, 2012 9:53 am

      Agreed.

    36. Greg Swann May 6th, 2012 10:30 am

      > Jessica and Greg, maybe you two should move in together.

      As I said when I jumped in on this thread on Friday, I have not paid any attention to the particulars in this dust-up. The overriding principle was obvious to me, so I devoted zero attention to what I presumed must be an erroneous denial of that principle.

      My ignorance is now somewhat diminished. This morning as I was making espresso, my wife Cathleen played the second video on her computer. I heard portions of your remarks, when the espresso machine was not too loud, but I saw none of the video.

      To you credit, you have an excellent radio voice, and, I’m guessing, a good TV manner.

      However, your arguments are terrible, one logical fallacy after the next. I am not being mean, I hope. The arguments you make to defend your position are simply poor ones, turning, one after the next, on very-well-documented paths to error.

      As an example, this

      > Less than two weeks after we unplugged from ZTR, we had FOUR offers.

      is the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc — after this, therefore because of this.

      If it is of interest to you, I can make a video of me commenting on your videos, to illustrate why particular arguments are rhetorically invalid.

      It’s perfectly okay to say no. I have plenty to do. But the advice you are giving to agents is very seriously in error, as I have demonstrated in every comment I have made in this thread. It may be a benefit to you and to others reading here to understand why these arguments fail.

    37. Greg Swann May 6th, 2012 11:58 am

      This is the rhetorical barrier to be surmounted by opponents of Realty.bot-style listing syndication:

      Exposing my seller’s home listing by Realty.bot-style listing syndication cannot ever advance my seller’s interests.

      You must be able to defend that claim, since any lower hurdle would imply that there is some potential benefit to the seller to be realized from Realty.bot-style listing syndication, or, at a minimum, that syndication represents neither a gain nor a loss to the seller.

      If you can’t insist that syndication cannot benefit the seller, then any argument against syndication fails.

      This is a summary of the arguments I’ve made in this thread, really just the same argument repeated and elaborated, so far without rebuttal:

       
      05/04:

      So: Listing syndication exposes the home to more potential buyers, which is good for the seller. My job as the listing agent is to do everything that is good for the seller, even if I think it might not be good for me. I don’t believe listing syndication is bad for me as the listing agent, but it would not matter if I did. I am fiduciary to my client, and that means I must put my client’s interests ahead of all others, including my own.

       
      05/04:

      Either people buy from the Realty.bot inventory or they don’t. If they don’t, it makes no difference. But if they do, and if the seller’s house is not represented in that inventory, then the seller’s interests have been betrayed.

      This is the equation from Chapter 7 of Man Alive!:

      1 > 0 > –1

      Don’t-buy-from-Realty.bots = 0, no gain, no loss.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-represented = 1, at least a potential gain.

      Do-buy-from-Realty.bots-and-seller’s-house-is-not-represented = –1, no possibility of a gain.

      I don’t think there is any way around this argument. The house probably will not sell because of a Realty.bot listing, but that statement is similarly true for every other arrow in the marketing quiver. But if it is not represented in the Realty.bot inventory, it cannot be sold by that means. The seller’s objective is not to not-sell the home, so if the seller fails to avail himself of every possible means of attracting buyers, he is acting contrary to his own interests.

       
      05/06:

      > the question is whether withholding MY information from them, but posting the same data from my own site hurts anyone?

      If there is a ready, willing and able buyer shopping for a home like your seller’s property,

      And if that buyer will make a selection from an inventory you do not directly control,

      And if, on your advice, your seller’s home is not represented in that inventory, even though it could be at the cost of zero money, effort and time,

      Then, necessarily, the property that buyer purchases cannot be your seller’s home.

      How is that not an injury to your seller?

       
      I’m not trying to be a prick about this. I normally leave this kind of stuff to Cowboy Slim. He reasons poorly, but he usually manages to hit the target, and he’s a lot better than I am at getting people to swallow bitter pills. But this is too important to let it slide.

      First, the proposition itself is hugely in error — it cannot be to your seller’s advantage to withhold his home listing from syndication. How you feel about this or what would be best for you matters nothing, as do all the other irrelevant side issues that have been interjected into this debate. The only parties who matter in this discussion are the seller and the listing broker, and a listing broker who advises his seller against Realty.bot-style listing syndication is making an unforced error.

      And second, that error creates a potentially disastrous legal liability for the listing broker. As always, the question to be considered is this one: In what light would a plaintiff’s attorney seek to portray this fact pattern? The arguments I am repeating here are unassailable — and hence, they are unassailed — but getting to the admission that it is possible that the home might have sold by Realty.bot-style listing syndication, had that listing been syndicated, is duck soup for even the dumbest attorney. As soon as you answer that one question truthfully, you’re toast. And if you try to lie about it, you’re burnt toast.

      If you insist I must be wrong, quote literally and liberally from the arguments I have repeated here for your convenience and show me my error.

    38. Jim Klein May 6th, 2012 7:48 pm

      Fascinating comment thread. Originally, my thoughts were perfectly repeated by Greg in his first comment–the duty is to the seller, and that’s that.

      But Jessica has a valid point, at least in principle. Trailing a banner behind a plane would be really cool, and running a 30 second spot on the evening news for a week would sell most any property quickly, at a maximum price. This is sufficient to disprove Greg’s claim that “failing to expose the seller’s home to as many potential buyers as possible is a betrayal of the seller’s interests.”

      The resolution is simple. Like ALL activities in the marketplace, agency is a business. The agent seeks to provide value to the seller at a cost worthwhile to the seller, that allows profit for the agent. Hence, rented airplanes and news spots are out. What’s left is what the agent judges as best for his client. Times change, and environments change. The best brokers and agents will adjust to those times and offer their clients the highest value. In the end, those who are right (correct) will win; those who are wrong will lose. This is how it should be—this is how it MUST be.

      All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I’m with Don, at least in approach if not in conclusion. He writes that he is “left with the unmistakable conclusion that (my twist now) syndication comes nowhere close to providing our fiduciary duty to the client.”

      I can’t endorse his conclusion because I don’t know the business. But I can endorse that HE comes to the conclusion and that’s HIS judgment. If he’s wrong–and Greg might be able to make a great case that in this place at this time, he’s wrong–then the market will take care of that misjudgment. Likewise if he’s right.

      What I do know is that he makes this judgment with full awareness of what fiduciary duty is, and in spite of his earlier comment (which Greg noted and I noticed), I do not believe that he would take any action which worked against the best interests of his clients.

      I find the argument about legal negligence particularly unconvincing. Besides being wholly subjunctive itself, I don’t see how any system developed by others can possibly create some situation which automatically trumps the decisions of the participants, and least of all makes a standard of negligence for failing to go along. I can imagine exceptions to this principle, like how to clean food processing equipment, but none in the arena of intellectual services, which ultimately is what agency is.

      Don’t get me wrong…I’m bettin’ Greg could make a mighty good case why failure to syndicate TODAY is nearly an automatic failure of duty compared to syndication. But that’s just a guess on my part, quite subjunctive itself. Pioneers always look foolish because they’re doing what others have never done, and I don’t see how ANYONE should be making such claims except the direct parties involves. The market will reveal who was right and who was wrong, quickly enough.

      Lastly, for Greg, I’ll give an example. Were I to sell now, and I expect it’ll be this way for a long while for a lot of sellers, my ONLY consideration would be maximization of price. To that end, it is quite easy for me to believe that an agent who is best at that, might choose not to syndicate. The days of churn are long over, and the marketing of homes in the future is going to be a ton more customizable, and a focus on maximum price might very well lead to marketing styles that are a lot different than the current ways. Point being that I’m a fairly well informed consumer and if Don–or Jessica or Jim–could persuade me that their abilities would produce a better price for me even though they’ll choose not to syndicate my listing, I’d be on board in a second.

    39. Jim Klein May 6th, 2012 8:05 pm

      I don’t need the subjunctive, Greg, cuz I’ve got a real-life case. My neighbor has had his house listed for 2-3 years, but at a ridiculous price because he really doesn’t care if it sells or not. IOW there is ZERO chance that it’ll sell at this price to ANY shopper who’s using the MLS or any other classic approaches.

      But I can almost guarantee that I could’ve sold the house at his price over that period. That’s because I understand who the buyer would have to be and so I could concentrate any marketing on reaching that buyer. Were I an agent, my resources must be focused on the goal and there are only so many resources to go around, as Jessica has already noted. Hence it would not be any failure of any fiduciary duty to not syndicate, on the assumption that the goal of my client could be reached.

      Now this is an unusual case, but there’s a very strong argument that many of the sales going forward are going to be unusual cases.

    40. Greg Swann May 6th, 2012 8:38 pm

      > my resources must be focused on the goal and there are only so many resources to go around

      I said:

      >> And if, on your advice, your seller’s home is not represented in that inventory, even though it could be at the cost of zero money, effort and time,

      I deliberately included this language, even though it is redundant, just to avoid these types of quibbles. Syndicating listings by MLS takes no effort on the agent’s part. Withholding syndication takes effort.

      I also said:

      >> If you insist I must be wrong, quote literally and liberally from the arguments I have repeated here for your convenience and show me my error.

      I don’t want to waste my time defending myself from things I have not said, nor addressing specious arguments I ignored the first time around.

      Everything after the comma in a “Yeah, but” is a personal problem. Until I hear a rebuttal of the arguments quoted in this comment, I’m out again.

    41. Jim Abbott May 6th, 2012 8:45 pm

      Let me just add this….We should not fall into the syndicators trap that EXPOSURE ON THEIR SITES EQUALS HOME SOLD. It doesnt. There is no credible evidence that it does. And the argument that EXPOSURE ON SYNDICATOR SITES IS A FIDUCIARY DUTY IS JUST MORE SYNDICATOR SPIN. Beware the Big Lie. Told long enough and loud enough most will believe. Our industry is just the latest to succumb, but I am not giving up!

    42. Jessica May 7th, 2012 2:40 am

      >it cannot be to your seller’s advantage to withhold his home listing from syndication.

      Have you ever agreed to reduce a portion of your commission if you’re on both sides of the transaction? Ever? Maybe for a client you’ve done repeat business with over the years? Maybe for a client that you’ll do additional business with in the future? Maybe because you know the people can’t really afford to pay it? They don’t have the money. And, you know they can’t get it…

      Well, if an arrangement is agreed/entered into by all contracting parties…

      Depending on the the amount of commission being paid (saved) under that agreement…

      It may very well be in the sellers best interest to not have a bunch of agents showing it.

      It may very well be in the sellers best interest to not be syndicated out.

      (Please note: Lets not talk about idealism in commissions. Just as ZTR are a reality in the market place, so are deals being cut between contracting parties. Happens all the time.)

      I guess it really depends on the what the seller sees as an ‘advantage’ to him/her.

      I believe you’re saying: having more free exposure is an advantage. And maybe for some it is.

      But walking away with more money on the deal can also be an advantage. Again, depending on the amount of money…quite a nice one.

      It cannot be proven that exposing a home to more people (via syndication) will result in having more qualified buyers who actually want to purchase the home in question. You could drop off a female super model to an island packed with men to pick up a date. But you know what? If they’re all gay, she’s not going out that night – at least not on a real date. And you can throw lust and love right out the window…

      I can prove that listing a home with me (over much of my competition) will increase their chances of selling.

      It cannot be proven that exposing a home to more people (via syndication) will result in additional offers and obtaining a higher purchase price.

      I can prove that I’m pretty good at generating multiple offer situations. I can prove that I’ve obtained final selling prices well over the original listing price. Well over market value. Paid in cash. No appraisal needed to comp it out. No contingencies. Because I made the buyer not only want it, but HAVE to have it.

      Nor can it be proven that a home will sell quicker with syndication. Honestly, I think the whole concept of more exposure being better for the client is absurd – it only helps to make a property get lost in the shuffle and not stand out. Some times being more exclusive is more desirable. People want what they can’t so easily have.

      If more exposure = better selling ability, then all single (and looking) people would become nudists. But I guarantee you all that exposure would create way more distractions and problems than it solved. And IMO the same is true for ZTR.

      I know, I know…specious analogy or some other Latin or Greek phrase that you love to throw out and then stand behind like it’s some impenetrable wall of rightness…

      But if you believe that you should be governed by what’s in your own best interest — as you determine as your own highest authority (even when it seems against your own best interests, weird and even crazy as all get out to others), then you must be willing to extend that same courtesy to others. That people are capable of acting in their own best interest – and don’t need others to tell them what to do and how to do it. Because it’s right for you, doesn’t mean that it makes sense or is correct for everyone else.

      Because I don’t agree with you. I don’t care what logical equation you write down on the digital blackboard (or how many times you keep tapping it with your stick)…

      If ZTR aren’t part of my solution, they are part of my problem. If they aren’t making things easier for me (to do my job for my client), then they are making my job more difficult. If they aren’t knocking road blocks down for me online…

      They are barriers being erected in my way.

      The bottom line is: I can prove that my market time is lower than many of my competitors. I can prove that I get homes sold. I can prove that I’ve sold HUNDREDS of them. I can prove that I’ve sold properties from $40,000 to well over 4 million. I can prove that I do it quicker and better than much of my competition.

      I can prove my way works.

      I’m paid to solve problems. I’m paid a lot of money to solve problems. I’m paid to make things easier for my clients. They hire me to get results. They hire me.

      When I go out to eat at some really nice place, I don’t go back in the kitchen and micromanage the chef and tell him how to make my meal. No, I relax by sitting at the table and enjoying my company. I know that my meal is going to be brought out and everything is going to be taken care of. I just need to enjoy the moment – not sweat the details. I’m pretty sure sellers pretty much want the same.

      Bottom line: either that client believes in my ability to get the job done – my way, or they don’t. And if they don’t: “NEXT!”

      Real Estate is about agency, but it’s also a business. My business. And me not agreeing to take their listing (that they really need to sell) could very well be viewed as a major disadvantage. Especially when I’ve sold 65% of the houses on the street or in that neighborhood.

    43. Don Reedy May 7th, 2012 7:09 am

      We are committed to an idea of excellence that will flush the bums, the con-men and the crybabies out of the real estate industry.

      All of you who have participated have added to the knowledge base of those who read and explore here. The question was “What if he’s not wrong?”, and the answers were passionate and well reasoned on many sides.

      “Cracks let the sun shine through” is an old saying. By both agreeing/disagreeing and challenging ourselves we’ve all let light shine through some of the cracks in syndication. Whether these cracks and this light change the course of our industry remains to be seen, but we are true to the purpose of the Bloodhound.

      “We work hard, we play hard, we learn everything we can — and we bow to no one.”

    44. Jim Abbott May 7th, 2012 9:03 am

      Jessica….It could not have been better said! You are getting a standing ovation at ARG this morning. BTW, I’m gay. And on that island, we could offer the supermodel safety, security, conversation with men who don’t have just one thing in mind, fashion/home staging tips and a really good time!

      Have a great week!

    45. Michael Sosnowski May 7th, 2012 5:17 pm

      So many comments with great arguments. Sometimes, however, the reaction is just visceral…..I don’t like ZTR or anything about them on many levels.

    46. John Rowles May 8th, 2012 6:05 am

      Google connects people to what they are looking for: I can literally type in a part number from a Saab they haven’t made in 35 years and find the three Web sites in Sweden that have new old stock. The point is, if you have original content that people are pro-actively looking for and you tell Google where that content is (and often even if you don’t), Google will cut out the middlemen IF you stop giving middlemen your content to use to compete against you.

      That is simply the way the Web works post-Google. Its ironic that the syndicators who helped kill dead tree real estate advertising have tried to graft the dead tree media model onto the Internet, as if there is value in redundant digital content, as if people are loyal to one real estate web site, as if advertising on multiple real estate media sites is the same as advertising in multiple newspapers in one city, as if Google didn’t exist.

      They were able to do that because their customers understood the dead tree model but did not understand the Internet and they exploited that beautifully.

      The majority of moves are local — the *median* distance people move is 12 miles after a tenure of 10 years in a single family home. The result is that most people search with the benefit of local knowledge that they use to form specific (aka “long tail”) keywords.

      In eCommerce terms, this is a “known item search”, as opposed to “browsing”, which is when you know what you want when you see it and is my wife’s shopping mode on both Ru La La and at Macy’s.

      I recently ran a report on a new client’s site after 30 days to see where we stood when people searched the listing address, the most common known item real estate search. Out of 100 listings, about half had made it to Page 1 in Google results. Out of those, four were #1, Page 1, the SEO equivalent hitting end zone with a 2-point conversion.

      The one thing those listings had in common? For one reason or another, they had slipped through the cracks for syndication and were not listed on TRZ. A week later, they had been caught up in the net and my client’s domain lost ground to Realtor.com and Zillow, and is now #3.

      Granted, you need to have a good indexable IDX site, and it helps if listings on your own site have more content than what you give away, but at the end of the day giving away unique content that you have created on the Web is counter-productive and above all, inefficient.

      Sooner or later, its the inefficiency of it that will drive more brokers to follow ARB, Edina, and others who have chosen to retain the value of their content to connect buyers with the one agent who actually knows something about the property in question on a domain where the broker can see what is going on and make sure the seller is well-served when a inquiry comes in.

      A broker awakening is an existential threat to the syndication feed itself — and the syndicators know it. Dollars to donuts this was part of Zillow’s rationale for buying DIverse Solutions and its stable of aggregated IDX.

    47. Greg Swann May 8th, 2012 6:23 am

      John, you do yourself no credit by failing to disclose your own self-interest as an IDX vendor at the outset when you are making self-serving claims. Moreover, as above, the broker is fiduciary to the seller. Accordingly, it is only the seller’s interests, not the broker’s, that matter in this debate. Could a Realty.bot listing surface a buyer? Obviously it could. Ergo, withholding syndication to Realty.bots is a a slam dunk agency violation. Your benefit and the broker’s benefit mean nothing in this discussion.

    48. Greg Swann May 8th, 2012 10:46 am

      This just in: ARMLS is revising its listing contract to make believe that sellers would ever unilaterally ask for their listings not to be shared with Realty.bots. Other enhancements, too, all to the advantage of the broker and to the disadvantage of the seller. Nice…

    49. John Rowles May 8th, 2012 3:16 pm

      @Greg: I don’t see how admitting that our technology can’t compete with big domains that have the same content is “self serving”, but, in the interest of full disclosure, in case it wasn’t clear in context, the reason I have a client with a domain on which I could run that test is that I sell an IDX search engine.

      Could a Realty.bot listing surface a buyer? Obviously it could. Ergo, withholding syndication to Realty.bots is a a slam dunk agency violation.

      Could loading up a Piper Cub with leaflets and dumping them out the door over a parade surface a buyer? Obviously, it could. Ergo…

    50. Jessica May 9th, 2012 2:02 am

      >BTW, I’m gay. And on that island…

      That’s priceless! Thank you. When your comment came in, I was putting out fires and dealing with all the not-so-glamorous tasks the tv shows won’t air…

      You provided a much needed distraction and smile. Again, thank you.