Why ARG is wrong about listing syndication.

Listing Syndication: A case of do as I say, not as I do?

Screen shot from ARG of search for 645 Front Street #2007 – which is not an ARG listing.

First, let me state this is my personal opinion and I respect the right of any company and broker to run their company how they want.  Secondly I would like to welcome Jim Abott to social media where conversation, reactions, and opinions allow for two way communication.

I’m truly surprised and some what amused by the recent You Tube video produced by ARG  getting as much press as it is.  My Google Reader is full of references to it from Jay Thompson over at The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, Agent Genius, Drew Myers on Geek Estate, and Rob Haun at Notorious R.O.B, and various real estate syndication sites.

On a recent post “A change for the worst or back to the dark ages.”  The message rings clear, why deal with an outside (buyer’s) agent when you can deal with the listing agent who knows all the details?  Everything will just be that much easier if we don’t have a pesky other agent involved!

This video and position is code for dual agency and not wanting cooperating agents (buyer’s agents) to sell your listings.  It is also about not wanting to pay for the expense of having brokerages listings enhanced, otherwise known as a marketing expense.

Yet, it is okay for ARG to do the very same thing they are accusing Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com on their company website?

Here is what the ARG video had to say:

“They purposefully make it nearly impossible for home shoppers to find out who the listing agent is on a specific property, while forcing them to shift through thousands and thousands of bogus ….”

And more:

“As if the theft of our intellectual property were not enough, consumers are the ones that really get a raw deal at the hands of syndicators.  Pretend for a moment that you are a potential buyer for a property found on Zillow or Trulia, you call the agent who is listed right next to the home of your interest, assuming your calling the listing office, in reality you may be be rerouted to a call center”

The answer is perhaps the home buyer would like to have their own agent with a fiduciary duty to just them, not to the seller to get the highest and best price for the listing.  Perhaps they would like to have an on-going relationship with an agent that can show them all the options in the marketplace – not hard sell their own listing.

The Zillow’s, Trulia’s, and Realtor.com real estate search sites are no more than marketing platforms.  Like a real estate magazine, newspaper advertisement, or Google Pay for click.  I’m no fan of them and don’t pay to upgrade listings except on Realtor.com since I believe it is an excellent national source.  Personally I don’t care which agent sells one of my listings, it is my job as the listing agent to make sure the buyer gets accurate information about the property and the Seller is represented properly.

Why is it okay for ARG to decide how fellow REALTORS® choose to spend their marketing budget under the guise of it’s bad for the consumer?   Take a close look at the image at the top of this post of a non ARG listing in Downtown San Diego.  Yes, this listing is with another real estate brokerage.

A consumer that was searching on ARG’s IDX feed would not know this unit was not listed by ARG, in fact they have 3 callouts to get the buyer to contact them directly, even if they may not have seen the listing or know anything about it.

Drew Myers drilled down to the underlying reasoning behind ARG’s stand against syndication when Edina Realty made the announcment about them not syndicating their listings.

I really don’t get how NOT sending their listings to the largest real estate sites on the web (for free) is good for their clients. When an Edina Realty agent takes a listing — they are paid to sell the house. End of story. Ask a seller whether it is okay for you to not advertise their listing on the real estate sites with the most buyers, and I all but guarantee of what their response will be. The conversion would probably go something like this:

Seller: “Huh? Why would you not want to do that? It’s free”

Listing Agent: “They charge me for leads because they have more traffic than my own site”

Seller: “And why should that impact me? I’m paying you to sell my house, right?”

Listing Agent: “Yes, but…”

Rob Haun offers an Non-REALTOR perspective on listing syndication.

Third, am I the only one that found it interesting that Mr. Abbott draws a fairly clear distinction between “our clients” and buyers? Of course, he does mention several times that if you’re looking to buy a house, that you should call Abbot Realty Group. But in a few moments, he makes it pretty clear that his clients are the home sellers, not necessarily the home buyers. This becomes relevant because…

The fourth, and most important point… actually, let’s make that a question. Listen to the message behind his outrage in the middle there (around the 4 minute mark). Listen to the substance of the complaint. Listen to him talk about irresponsible agents who don’t know the neighborhood, the development, sometimes steers the buyer into a property/area they do know, etc. The issue boils down to this critical phrase: “If you want honest, accurate information about a property, talk to the source.” Someone explain to me how that critical phrase does not apply with 100% force to IDX, please?

The entire You Tube video is 7.37 minutes in length and is worth watching in full.  Here are a few links to excerpts that are telling of the true motivation of ARG.  Hopefully they will be the first and last San Diego brokerage to take this position.

A handful of top real estate firms from across the country have already pulled their content  from these syndicators, ARG Realty Group is the first to do so in San Diego.

Choice is almost always a benefit to the consumer on where and how they want to search for real estate.  Organized real estate through IDX, VOW’s and syndication have let the cat out of the bag, and now some are trying to put the cat back in the bag – I don’t see a benefit to the Seller who gets less exposure, or to the Buyer who needs to use the listing agent.

My goodness, it is the Internet.

Most serious home buyers will realize that working with a professional REALTOR® with their interests in mind is the best way to find a home, not by calling the listing agent.

It is unfortunate that AGG’s decision to not syndicate to effects all of their associates, if they believe in this or not.  Have they discussed this major policy with their Clients?

Here are some final thoughts from Jim on the video:

To the home buying and home selling public by all means do your homework.  But when you want honest, accurate information on a property, we say talk to the source. 


15 thoughts on “Why ARG is wrong about listing syndication.

  1. Jay thompson

    Amen! When I said in my post at if your don’t support syndication you can’t support IDX, I meant it. IDX is nothing more than local syndication. The hypocrisy is astounding.

  2. Debbie Drummond

    I agree with you except for one area where I find the syndicators are creating confusion. They do not screen their listings so that homes which have gone into contract are clearly marked as in contract. I’ve even been called about homes that have Sold but still show on Zillow. This gives buyers an unrealistic opinion that there are far more options for them to choose from and in fact makes them think it’s more of a buyer’s market than it is. Syndication is good. It gets exposure for our listings. It lets buyers get a look at what’s out there, but it should be done right. My site updates frequently and we remove listings that have gone into contract. If the syndicators want to show listings that are in contract they should be clearly marked as contingent or pending.

  3. Jeffrey Douglass

    Debbie you have a good point and I believe that this is a problem both within the MLS systems and the syndicators. If the syndicator is on an MLS/IDX feed, then the data should closely match the MLS. If it was a broker load, or another agent that loads the listing, most often is not removed in a timely basis. I know that agents many times do not report pendings, contingent sales, and closing in a timely manner. Kinda garbage in, garbage out. I always tell Clients that the most reliable, but certainly not completely accurate, is a feed from the MLS to and IDX site, or the MLS itself. Thank you very much for your comments.

  4. Jeffrey Douglass

    Kris, I figured that you would. Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of 3rd party aggregate sites, but I am a fan for open sources of data. Abbott’s argument about pulling due to lack of accuracy is just a shell game to get some attention. It does not benefit the Clients, the agents, or the industry.

  5. Jeffrey Douglass

    Jay, I am so happy that someone out there gets it. I say cast the information in as big a net as you have, you never know where your buyer is coming from, or who they are working for. ARG’s website has 3 calls to actions on another Broker’s listing. Thanks for your comments and the excellent article that you wrote. I hate to see such old school ideas about being the gatekeeper of the data.

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  9. Jon Zolsky

    Couple of statement there that sound right but are not right. First, “Professional Realtor”. There is no such thing. There are professional agents, but not professional Realtors. Realtors are just paying members of National Association of Realtors.
    Second, is the wonderful statement that hiring your own agent with your interest in mind is in the Buyers best interest.
    Reality is that if this agent does not know the area, neighborhood, type of property, they are a disaster.
    Is it better to deal with the listing agent? In these situations it sure is. Big time is. The problem with these sites is that they make the customer think that those people, whose faces he sees on the right to the listing, are the gurus in this particular neighborhood, type of property, etc.
    And this is plain lie. Unless huge dissatisfaction by the customers are considered their benefit

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