When an Austin Realtor enters a listing into the Austin MLS system, we have to make some selections about where the listing will display online. (See screenshot to the left) Of course it will be an “MLS” listing, available to any other Realtor who is a member of the Austin MLS. But we also have to select which other third-party sites will display the listing.
Recently, in Austin and elsewhere, listing agents have become increasingly frustrated with how listing data is used and displayed, and in fact sold back to us. Some are starting to question whether the current “sharing” of listings to other sites, such as Realtor.com, is in fact beneficial.
The real estate industry was stupid and foolish over a decade ago when it resisted the placement of listings online in the first place. Instead of recognizing where the industry was headed and what consumers wanted, the industry and its “leaders” operated from an old 1980’s “MLS Book” mindset. This opened the door to lawsuits and eventually third party aggregators who saw the void and filled it.
Let’s look at the internet choices selected by Realtors when adding a listing to the Austin MLS, and what they mean.
IDX: Allow listings to be displayed on IDX sites. When you visit a listing search page on a Realtor’s website, you are accessing an IDX site. Ours is at: http://www.mlsfinder.com/tx_actris/crosslandteam/ and provides a way for consumers to “search the Austin MLS”. Buyer Agents use IDX search sites to capture leads. If you see a listing that interests you on an IDX site, the “Contact Us” form you fill out goes to the agent running the site, not the Listing Agent.
As of this writing, there are 63 Austin MLS listings flagged “No” for IDX of the total 6,643 homes listed for sale. That’s about 1%, or 1 out of every 100 homes for sale. The percentage of luxury homes is much higher. Of 398 Austin homes listed for $1M or more, 28 are flagged “No” for IDX, which is 7% of the total. So, if you’re searching online for a $1M+ home, you’re only seeing 93% of the MLS inventory.
Some of the luxury Brokers in Austin are not happy with IDX and have voiced complaints to the Austin Board of Realtors and sent around a petition letter demanding changes. Other Brokers in Austin, who like IDX, and whose buyer agents depend on it for connecting with new buyers, responded with a counter-petition. The drums have started beating.
I showed homes to a buyer yesterday, and now my inbox is filling with these annoying automated email feedback requests.
Each time an Austin Realtor opens a lockbox with the electronic key (or iPhone or Blackberry key), the visit is logged and reported via wireless transmission, sometimes in a matter of minutes. If the listing agent has properly assigned the Supra Lockbox ID to the MLS Number of the listing in the Austin MLS System, the listing agent will receive an email notifying of the showing.
Sylvia and I set up all listings like this to gain feedback from showing agents. This helps us understand what buyers liked or didn’t like about a property. If we hear the same negative feedback about an aspect of a house or the pricing, we can make appropriate adjustments. We use it for a reality check and as an excuse to follow up with agents and encourage an offer if there is interest.
While Sylvia conducts our feedback requests manually, sending a short personal email to each showing agent with a link to the listing (to remind them of which one it was) and inquiring as to any interest, more and more Austin Realtors instead subscribe to automated feedback systems that automate the process. Though I’m happy to respond to phone call or direct email requests for feedback, I ignore the impersonal automated requests. Here’s why.