Screen shot from realtor.com highlighting "Showcase" listing enhancements.
Houston-based brokerage Martha Turner Properties has signed an agreement with realtor.com to enhance its listings on the portal with up to 36 photos, broker branding and agent photos, and contact info on all the listings of its more than 220 agents.
Realtor.com’s “Company Showcase Listing Enhancements” is one of five products the portal offers brokerages. Brokers and agents who pay to enhance their listings also don’t have to worry that the unbranded “Connection for Co-Brokerage” lead forms that realtor.com places next to some listings in select markets will be used to generate referrals for other companies’ agents.
Agents with Martha Turner Properties will have the ability to write custom headlines, link to videos and virtual tours, advertise open houses and create unique 1-800 numbers that allow them to better track leads.
“This strategic alliance with realtor.com, the nation’s premier national online real estate destination for homebuyers and sellers and professionals, is a natural fit for our strategic marketing initiatives as we drive to continually enhance our brand and our services to our clients,” said Martha Turner, CEO and president of Martha Turner Properties, in a statement.
Realtor.com says approximately 50 percent of the listings on its site are enhanced via its Showcase product.
Martha Turner Properties recorded the third-highest sales volume of any brokerage in the Houston area in 2012 — nearly $1.6 billion, according to Real Trends. The firm also serves the Briar Hollow/River Oaks, Memorial, the Bay Area, Kingwood, The Woodlands, and Fort Bend County areas in southeast Texas.
In August, realtor.com revamped its pricing structure, adding more pricing tiers and metro-specific rates.
In December, the largest firm owned by HomeServices of America — Prudential California Realty, which rebranded as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties on Monday — signed an agreement with realtor.com to enhance listings on the portal.
As portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com attract a greater proportion of real estate Web traffic, brokerages are paying to enhance listings on the sites in order to generate leads, satisfy sellers and to sell more properties.
Listings that aren’t enhanced with paid features like realtor.com’s Showcase product can be given unremarkable presentations on the portals.
For example, realtor.com listings that are not enhanced have a limit of four photos, curtailed property detail descriptions, and don’t include broker or agent branding. (In the markets where it’s available, brokers who allow realtor.com’s “Connection for Co-Brokerage” lead forms to appear next to their listings and generate leads for other companies’ agents get free perks like the ability to upload to 36 photos per listing at no charge.)
Because they don’t have direct feeds from most of the multiple listing services in the U.S. as realtor.com does, sites like Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com trade listing enhancements for direct feeds from brokers. Thanks to its ties to the National Association of Realtors, realtor.com gets listings directly from most of the nation’s multiple listing services. NAR also has a say in how listings are displayed on realtor.com.
Companies like Martha Turner Properties also pay to advertise or enhance their listings on the sites.
In March, Realty One Group began enhancing its listings on Homes.com, and last year Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the fourth-largest brokerage in the U.S., signed agreements with realtor.com and Zillow worth more than $1 million to enhance its listings on the portals.
In July, Century 21 Real Estate re-upped an agreement with realtor.com that gives brokerages affiliated with the brand discounts on enhancing their listings on the portal.
Some brokerages have done the opposite.
In 2011, the large Minnesota-based brokerage Edina Realty made the decision to withdraw its listings from all of the portals including realtor.com, citing lead forms for other companies’ agents that appeared alongside its listings as one of the main reasons.