MRED MLS to feed real estate listings to Trulia

Members can 'opt in' to syndication program

The largest multiple listing service in the Midwest will syndicate listings to third-party listings portal Trulia.com when its members opt in to a new syndication service announced today.

Lisle, Ill.-based Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) serves nearly 8,000 real estate offices and 40,000 real estate professionals in the metro Chicago area, including northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana.

Like many MLSs, MRED previously sent listings directly to only one third-party listing site, Realtor.com, which is operated by Move Inc. under an agreement with the National Association of Realtors.

MRED officials say the MLS is planning to expand the number of third-party sites it "self-syndicates" to, with the goal of improving the timeliness and accuracy of data across the Internet

"We chose to partner with Trulia first because of their industry-friendly Trulia Data Pledge," MRED CEO Russ Bergeron said in a statement. "We are confident that Trulia is going to protect our data and fairly represent our listings."

Trulia announced the data pledge last month, after Minnesota-based Edina Realty Inc. announced it would no longer provide listings to third-party sites because of concerns about accuracy and ads for competitors appearing alongside of listings.

The data pledge stipulates that Trulia will not resyndicate listings to other sites, and will make it easy for consumers to contact the source providing listings data and the listing agent, "based on the information provided to Trulia."

"Ads will be identified as ads to distinguish advertising from listings content," Trulia’s Ginger Wilcox promised in a post on the company’s blog. "We will remove ads that confuse consumers about the official agent or broker for a listing."

Brokers typically display each other’s listings on their own websites by publishing Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds that are maintained by MLSs. Only MLS members may publish IDX listings, however.

Brokers who want their listings to appear on third-party sites like Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow must "syndicate" them.

By agreeing to provide listings to Trulia directly when its members give it the go-ahead, MRED is simplifying the syndication process for them — and ensuring that the data comes straight from the source.

MRED’s policy is "opt in" — meaning members’ listings are not sent to Trulia or any other third-party site unless they direct MRED to do so.

Thanks to its ties to NAR, nearly all of the nation’s 900-plus MLSs syndicate listings to Realtor.com (Realtor.com also provides listings to AOL Real Estate).

Other third-party websites often rely on third-party companies that syndicate listings data to multiple sites. Some of the bigger third-party listings portals, like Trulia and Zillow, have been making headway in signing syndication agreements directly with brokers and MLSs.

Trulia declined to provide exact numbers, but said it has similar syndication agreements in place with the Houston Association of Realtors, Connecticut MLS, Northern Ohio Regional MLS, and San Jose, Calif.-based MLS Listings.

This month, the nation’s fourth-largest broker, Pittsburgh-based Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said it had signed separate marketing agreements with Realtor.com and Zillow to promote its listings on the sites, unaccompanied by ads or lead forms for competing brokerages. Howard Hanna will provide listings directly to Zillow.com under the terms of that agreement

In responding to Edina’s decision to pull its listings from Trulia, the company characterized the move as "bad for agents (and) consumers." If listing agents want to be the only agent displayed on lead forms that appear next to listings, "all they need to do is create a free account with Trulia," the company said.

Providing "highly accurate listing information to consumers" is one of the company’s top priorities, the company said, noting that a study Trulia conducted of third-party listing sites concluded that 69 percent of inaccurate data came from third-party syndicators.

"While Trulia does receive data from these sources, our algorithms select the highest-quality source of listings data to display on our site," the company said. "When available, we always display higher-quality listings data sent directly from MLSs or brokerages, like Edina, instead of poorer-quality data from third-party syndicators."


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