Minnesota-based Edina Realty Inc. is once again saying goodbye to third-party real estate listing websites that aren’t controlled by real estate brokerages, announcing today that its listings will disappear from the last national portal it was providing listings to, Realtor.com, within 10 days.
Edina Realty — the dominant brokerage in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market — caused a stir in November when it announced that it would stop syndicating listings to Realtor.com, Trulia and other national, third-party listing portals.
The HomeServices of America Inc. subsidiary cited concerns about the accuracy of listing data published on the sites, and advertisements and lead forms for other brokers’ agents that sometimes appear next to listings.
Multiple listing services typically prohibit brokerages that display each other’s listings under the terms of reciprocal Internet Data Exchange (IDX) agreements from running such lead forms and ads.
Although Edina Realty did stop syndicating listings to other non-brokerage websites, it continued to provide listings to Realtor.com because some of its agents were paying for additional photos, branding and other "enhancements" of their listings, Edina Realty Home Services CEO Bob Peltier told Inman News last month.
Peltier said at the time that before pulling the plug on Realtor.com, he wanted to know how the company would treat the 82 Edina Realty agents who had entered into one-year contracts to have their listings enhanced.
Writing on the company’s website, Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson said today that the site "will continue to display listings for Edina Realty agents that have a direct advertising relationship with Realtor.com."
Most Edina Realty listings will no longer be displayed on Realtor.com, MSN Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, or the company’s mobile apps, Samuelson said. Listings syndicated to Realtor.com also appear on MSN Real Estate. Realtor.com operator Move Inc.’s subsidiary, ListHub, syndicates a different set of listings to AOL Real Estate.
Samuelson, who traveled to Minnesota with other Realtor.com executives to discuss syndication issues with Edina Realty’s leaders, said he wanted to "be absolutely clear: we respect Edina’s decision."
But Samuelson said that none of the concerns about third-party listing portals cited by Edina Realty in November apply to Realtor.com.
Realtor.com listings, he said "are sourced directly from the MLS and are updated every 15 minutes to 24 hours every day directly by our MLS partners."
Competing brokers’ and agents’ photos and branding do not appear next to listings on Realtor.com, Samuelson noted.
Brokers can choose not to have the unbranded "Connection for Co-Brokerage" lead forms employed by Realtor.com appear next to listings they represent (Realtor.com offers incentives, such as additional listing photos, to brokers who allow the lead forms to appear next to listings they represent).
Other major listing portals, including Trulia and Zillow, have made moves in recent months intended to address brokers’ concerns about accuracy and ads from competitors alongside of listings.
Samuelson said it is his understanding that Edina Realty’s decision to stop providing listings to third-party sites "is based in large part on a desire to channel as many consumers as possible through their own website."
Some brokers and agents — particularly those who specialize in representing buyers — have suggested that Edina Realty and other brokerages that have stopped syndicating listings to third-party sites want to increase the number of transactions where their agents are representing both sides of the deal.
If an unrepresented buyer finds out about a home that’s for sale on the listing broker’s website instead of on a third-party site, the listing broker is more likely to get an inquiry, or "lead," that results in them representing the buyer, the thinking goes.
Peltier — who was not immediately available for comment today — has said that while Edina Realty does hope to represent more buyers, its objective is not to "double-end" more transactions.
Edina Realty continues to provide Internet Data Exchange (IDX) listings data to other brokers, and publicize listings represented by those brokers on its own website, EdinaRealty.com.
Samuelson questioned whether the strategy will work, noting that Edina Realty agents and sellers they represent "will miss out on exposure to our national audience of more than 20 million monthly unique users," including 282,500 visitors from the local markets served by Edina Realty.
Edina Realty agents who want their listings on Realtor.com will only be able to get them on the site by purchasing paid advertising — listing "enhancements."
Samuelson acknowledged that "not displaying these listings means we now offer a reduced user experience to buyers and sellers in the affected markets."
(Realtor.com had previously disclosed that in a recent 12-month period, visitors to the website viewed 2.8 million listing detail pages of homes represented by Edina Realty agents).
In a statement issued today, Peltier said Edinarealty.com "has more listings and generates more traffic than any other broker-owned or non-broker owned site in our market."
Edina Realty belongs to more MLS boards than any other real estate firm in its markets, he said, "making it a complete resource for virtually all property listings in Minnesota and western Wisconsin."
Real estate is a local business, he said, with most people moving an average of only 12 miles from their current residence.
The nation’s fourth-largest real estate brokerage, family-owned Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, has taken another approach, negotiating agreements with Realtor.com and Zillow to enhance its listings and prevent ads or lead forms for other companies’ agents from appearing alongside of them.