Real estate brokerages and multiple listing services can now use ListHub to syndicate listings to websites operated by participating national franchisors including Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Realty Executives International and RE/MAX.
Franchisors and broker networks participating in ListHub’s Real Estate Network will display each other’s listings inventory, ListHub said — boosting the depth of listings that consumers will be able to search for on their sites.
ListHub, which is owned by Realtor.com operator Move Inc., is the largest syndicator of listing data, helping 376 MLSs and 43,000 brokerage firms distribute listings to third-party sites like Zillow.com, Trulia.com and AOL Real Estate.
Franchisors Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Realty Executives International and RE/MAX are aboard for the new network’s launch, ListHub said, with additional franchisor and broker network websites expected to join "in the near future."
Until recently, franchisor websites could only display listings represented by brokerages that were affiliated with them.
To allow consumers to search more comprehensive databases of listings pooled by brokers in individual markets, franchisors would sometimes display "framed" search results from their affiliated brokers’ websites.
Only MLSs and their member brokers and agents were permitted to display Internet Data Exchange (IDX) listings — listing data pooled by brokers at the market level. Brokerage networks and franchise companies — which typically provide leads and lead management, marketing services, and training to brokerage firms and their agents — could not display IDX listing data.
In November 2010, the National Association of Realtors adopted a policy that allowed franchisors to display IDX listings, with the approval of an affiliated broker. In other words, a brokerage affiliated with a franchisor could give the franhisor the right to display all of the IDX listings in a given market — not just those listings represented by the brokerage itself.
NAR’s decision sparked protests by major brokerage firms including HomeServices of America Inc. and broker networks The Realty Alliance and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Critics said major franchisors with brokerages in many markets would be able to build national listing portals with deep listings coverage without the consent of the brokers representing those listings.
Robert Moline, president and chief operating officer of HomeServices of America Inc., warned NAR leaders that if the policy allowing franchisors to display IDX listings was not repealed, HomeServices might pull out of the Realtor-controlled MLS system.
NAR leaders voted in May to give brokerages the right to opt out of having their IDX listings displayed on franchisor websites, before repealing the policy altogether in November in favor of listing syndication.
Although NAR’s repeal of the franchisor IDX display policy mollified critics, it also created problems for franchisors who had reconfigured their websites to display IDX listings.
"The franchisor IDX flip-flop that NAR did … really got up the dander of the larger franchisors," Bob Bemis, CEO of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS), told Inman News last month.
While Moline had threatened to pull out of the MLS system, "Alex Perriello at Realogy was equally perturbed, having spent millions to build CBMove.com and now being told he can’t have the IDX listings to fuel the search engine," Bemis said.
With the launch of ListHub’s Real Estate Network (REN), brokerages will now have the option of sending their own listings — but not all of the IDX listings in their market — to broker networks and franchisor websites.
ListHub’s rules for the Real Estate Network stipulate that only participants providing listings for others to display may receive a feed from the network, ensuring deeper listing coverage on participating websites. MLSs will also have the ability to use ListHub’s Real Estate Network syndicate to broker networks and franchisor websites.
The rules also require that initial search results displayed on network participants’ websites must provide a direct link to a full listing detail page that identifies the listing broker.
If participating websites are displaying their own contact information on listing detail pages, they must do so in a way "that clearly identifies the listing broker or agent for such property and does not lead a reasonable consumer to conclude that the site operator is the listing broker or agent for such property."
Participants are also required to provide reporting metrics back to ListHub, including search impressions and lead counts.
"ListHub’s Real Estate Network answers an industry need to promote listings on high-visibility franchisor and broker network websites in a way that maximizes and ensures broker control," said Move CEO Steve Berkowitz in a statement.
Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, said in a statement that the company was "pleased to expand the distribution of our brokers’ listings" through REN, saying "our brands’ participation in the Real Estate Network ultimately will result in a better online experience for their customers."
RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly called REN "a welcome opportunity to compete on an equal footing with non-industry sites and provide broad exposure for listings represented by many different brokers."