Guess what happened to Metrolist CEO Kirby Slunaker when he requested more information on a listing from Zillow? It was the same thing that happens to thousands of potential buyers every day when they ask for information on a listing from the Internet portal, Zillow. Watch this:
Kirby got Zillowed when the website referred him to a real estate agent that paid dearly to be a Premier Agent on a listing that wasn’t his own. That’s right. Some agents who need more business pay hundreds or thousands of dollars per month to be featured on the Internet portals listings of other agents. Often, as in this case, the agent wasn’t even close to the location of the listing. He was some 35 miles away in northern suburb. A local Parker agent would know more about the property and the rural neighborhood.
This practice infuriates most Realtors who generate the listings which are in turn sold to other real estate agents at the highest price. It’s not just Zillow. Trulia, Realtor.com, syndication sites and scraper sites all sell leads to agents based on their ability to buy them.
A meeting held last December at the Metro Denver Association of Realtors culminated in a confrontation between Denver Realtors and two representatives from Zillow and Trulia. We reported on that meeting in our blog.
Now, our local Denver Home Search MLS, Metrolist, is crafting a new plan that would delay the information given to the giant Internet portals. Realtor websites and REColorado, the home search operated by Metrolist, will start to receive new information on listings every 15 minutes. The Internet portals will receive feeds less frequently. The exact amount of the delay has yet to be decided by the Metrolist Board which includes representatives of several local Board of Realtors.
Kirby told us “My thinking now is that by the end of the year we will delay the feed to Zillow, Trulia and even Realtor.com by about 24 hours. But, the Board will make the final decision…There is some thinking that is should be even longer.”
This decision alone should level the playing field for individual Realtor websites and ReColorado to compete against these massive, national websites. Right now, those sites rank first in search engine rankings for almost any address you can enter. There’s lots of reasons why this happens. But one reason is that the Internet portals are purposely posting information on listings that have either been sold or withdrawn from the market as well as active listings.
The sheer amount of the data is impressive. But, according to Kirby, it is deceptive on purpose. This is how Kirby describes a business model that relies on selling as many leads on as many properties to Premier agents who buy them.
Evidently, the change in this feeding of data from Metrolist will need to take place toward the end of this year. That will allow the existing and authorized MLS-IDX vendors to change the way they received the feeds of the data from Metrolist. Right now the technology only allows updating all the feeds daily. But new technology, REITs, will allow for frequent updating of data. So, new listings will be visible to the public more quickly and sold listings can be removed.
One of the many ranking factors for search engines use is Original Authorship. What was the original source on the Internet where this information first appeared? That’s what search engines used in helping to determine the order of the rankings or individual addresses. The proposed changes at Metrolist will make it less likely that any source other than Metrolist will be viewed as the original author of the content. It’ll be interesting to see how this does or does not affect the search rankings of individual addresses.
You can see the entire interview with Kirby Slunaker on Adam Hebener’s website when it is posted. Personally, I’m very gratified that Kirby and the Metrolist Board are taking this bull by horns. Kirby has only been the official CEO for the last year but he and the Board are moving forward to put Realtor websites and their own at a higher priority. That is a welcome step in the right direction.