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.
Realtor.com has a nice iPhone specific url that allows you to view real estate listings from your iPhone. I’m not sure what percentage of U.S. listings are fed into Realtor.com, but I would be suprised if it isn’t most of the major metro area MLS listings. And they are all at your finger tips with your iPhone.
OK, so what? Big deal. Who cares? What problem is solved by having access to nearly all of the Realtor listings in the U.S. through an iPhone? Why not just go home and log in from your web browser if you want to surf listings?
Well, I’m with you. I’m not impressed with “gee wiz” technology just for the sake of technology, but I can think of at least two ways in which this technology benefits me personally and professionally.
First, it’s not uncommon to be showing houses to buyers, and they ask about homes we drive by that are not on our list. This happens all the time.
Normally, if it’s not on our showing list, it’s because it didn’t fit the parameters of the search, or I eliminated it for some other reason. But I don’t always know or remember at the moment the question is asked. If there are flyers, we get one and find out the price and specs, but flyer boxes are usually empty, and sometimes the price isn’t printed on the flyer (because the agent wants you to call and ask, so they can convert you to a “buyer lead”.
I can also call the agent number on the sign, but what do you think the chances are that the call will be answered? Not good. Realtors hardly ever answer their phones.
So instead, now all I have to do is enter a quick search and pull the listing up, complete with pictures and basic details. The screen shot above is the home page you’ll see if you visit iphone.realtor.com with your iPhone.
Let’s walk through more screen shots and see if this is cool and useful, or not. Oh, and I’ll get to reason number two of why this isn’t a complete waste of time eventually, but for now, let’s just see what you can do with Realtor.com and an iPhone.