Editor’s note: Danny Frank is chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors, and a Realtor with Prudential Anderson Properties in Pearland, Texas. Inman News welcomes guest perspectives on topics of interest to real estate agents, brokers and companies that provide services to them. Send guest perspectives to Managing Editor Matt Carter, email@example.com.
Since the National Association of Realtors held a special board of directors meeting on July 24, there has been a lot of misinformation and just plain inaccurate claims and statements made about both NAR and realtor.com. And I feel a need to help set the record straight.
I, as a board member, have been trying to get NAR and realtor.com to play in the same sand box for years. Mind you that BOTH are to blame for the stalemate the we are just coming out of after the board of directors meeting in Chicago.
The result of the meeting was what was needed in my opinion because I just felt NAR could not manage what needed to be done. I can’t remember much of anything other than governmental and political affairs that NAR has been successful at doing.
I, for one, want to help realtor.com become more successful with regards to our brand and to be the site the consumer wants to go to for all of its real estate needs. And the site that Realtors want!
So, let’s look at the facts (as summarized by NAR):
What was the vote about?
The board recommended the removal of some restrictions from the agreement that governs the operation of realtor.com. Specifically, board members recommended adding content to www.realtor.com and its mobile apps in order to enrich the consumer experience and make realtor.com more competitive in the online listing space. The changes will enable realtor.com to:
- Display unlisted new homes and new-home communities.
- Display unlisted rentals.
- Obtain listings from entities that are not Realtor-owned and controlled, as well as from brokers who are not Realtors.
- Identify and flag properties where a notice of default has been recorded; auctions of distressed properties; short sales; foreclosures; and bank-owned properties. (Brokers will have the right to opt out by calling realtor.com customer care.)
Why did the changes require a board vote?
The realtor.com domain is owned by NAR, but the website is operated by technology company Move Inc., based in San Jose, Calif. In 1996, NAR partnered with Move for the core purpose of aggregating real property ads on the Internet. The operating agreement that governs that partnership is between subsidiaries of NAR (Realtors Information Network, or RIN) and Move (RealSelect), but because of the nature of the changes, the RIN board sought a recommendation from the NAR board before moving forward with the changes.
So, with all of that being said, let’s look at why this is a win-win for both Realtors and realtor.com
In today’s digital world, consumers get what consumers want. If a real estate listing site is not meeting consumer needs, other providers will step in to fill the void.
We are seeing that happen now in the listing aggregation space. In the past several years, aggressive entrants into the listing aggregation market have developed business models that display listings, as well as unlisted properties, from a wider variety of sources and combine those listings and unlisted properties with tools that consumers want, such as valuations.
These sites have drawn a wide circle of consumers — not just current buyers and sellers but everyone, from curious renters to homeowners seeking to track property values in their neighborhood. In order to build their own traffic and brand, these new sites must connect consumers to their brand, and pull consumers away from the Realtor brand. The recent changes made by NAR will enable realtor.com to continue to effectively connect with consumers and help Realtors better serve consumers, by reinforcing the Realtor brand and keeping it directly in front of a significant online consumer audience.
And, you ask, how will this reinforce the Realtor brand?
Realtor.com provides more than 400 million brand impressions to consumers per month. In addition, the site will show the value of using a Realtor when buying, selling or investing in real estate; it will give consumers tools to differentiate between Realtors and real estate agents who are not Realtors; and it will visually identify listings that are represented by Realtors by marking them with the Realtor logo.
The site will also help consumers understand the work and advocacy being done by NAR and members to protect homeowners’ rights.
These changes make it more important than ever for Realtors to claim their individual “Find-a-Realtor” profile pages on realtor.com to ensure that their listings are clearly marked as Realtor listings. This is a MUST DO! Have you done it yet?
Realtors will benefit from a stronger Realtor .com
I feel when realtor.com has the resources and flexibility to give consumers what they want — an accurate, credible and comprehensive source of market data — that helps create a strong tie between consumers and Realtors as the source of that data.
The other huge benefit: A competitive realtor.com attracts more consumers to the site and therefore more traffic to Realtors’ listings and helps consumers understand the value of working with a Realtor and the work that NAR does on their behalf to protect homeownership.
And due to the new strategic agreement with NAR, Realtors get a broad array of free benefits through realtor.com, including:
- All of your listings displayed on www.realtor.com with the Realtor Block-R.
- Find-a-Realtor profile.
- Recommendation tools to capture, monitor and post recommendations.
- Branded mobile tools – VERY COOL TOOL.
- Seminar and webinar training.
- Exceptional customer support.
- Facebook business pages.
- Mobile listings websites with QR code references.
- International exposure through realtor.com/International.
- Listings on approved co-branded sites, such as MSN.
Besides displaying the freshest, most accurate data, realtor.com also actively protects your data from scraping. More information on all of realtor.com’s free benefits for members is available at http://realtor.com/engage.
This meeting will go down in history as the day NAR and realtor.com came together and did the right thing. I think accolades need to go out to a few key players: Dale Stinton, CEO of NAR; President Gary Thomas; and the entire NAR executive BOD.
I am proud of what you have accomplished in the last few weeks. I also think that a shoutout to the staff at Move is in order as well. Both parties did what needed to be done and came up with a win-win for both groups. WELL DONE!
Now is the time to cut the chains and let realtor.com soar. I am calling on all Realtor members to just give this a chance to work.
Join me in helping get our brand back to the No. 1 spot of both consumers and Realtor members. We, as a group, must move forward and not look back. We can and will succeed, and I need your help to make it happen!
Please join me to get our brand back, and set the record straight.