Technology

Edina Realty does about-face, sends listings to Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com

Berkshire Hathaway affiliate cites linkbacks, portals' popularity with consumers

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Edina Realty, the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota-based Berkshire Hathaway affiliate that made waves when it pulled its listings from Trulia and realtor.com two years ago, started sending its listings to Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com today at noon Central time.

The brokerage, which had never syndicated its listings to Zillow, cited accuracy concerns and a distaste for other agents’ ads next to its listings when it cut its feed to Trulia in November 2011. It cut its feed to realtor.com in May 2012.

The decision to pull listings from third-party sites was also about drawing more traffic to Edina Realty’s website, then-CEO Bob Peltier told Inman News when the firm announced its decision to stop providing data to Trulia. After pulling its listings, “we are going to move up in SEO, because we have more listings than (the third-party sites) do,” Peltier said at the time.

Now, Edina Realty is sending information on about 9,500 listings directly to Zillow and Trulia, under special terms the portals offer to brokerages. Zillow and Trulia provide perks to brokerages that provide direct listings feeds, like higher-profile branding and more frequently updated listings. If Zillow, Trulia and other third-party portals aren’t receiving direct feeds from multiple listing services or brokerages, they rely on companies like ListHub and Point2, which aggregate listing data and syndicate it to publisher sites.

Edina Realty will send realtor.com a feed through MLSs it belongs to. Thanks to its ties to the National Association of Realtors, realtor.com gets direct feeds from most U.S. MLSs.

So, what changed Edina Realty executives’ minds?

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Edina Realty President and CEO Greg Mason, who took over for Peltier in January, cited three factors: improved attribution for listing agents and brokers, including linkbacks; the increased popularity of the portals with consumers; and a desire to improve accuracy on the portals.

Zillow and Trulia have been making a big effort to woo brokerages and MLSs for direct feeds by improving the attribution and other perks they give in exchange for listings. Representatives of both Zillow and Trulia say that the portals provide a linkback to the broker’s website from their property detail pages and prominently display the listing agent at no charge.

Realtor.com provides linkbacks and a prominent display of the listing agent only to brokerages and agents who advertise.

Mason says that traffic to Edina Realty has grown since it pulled its listings, but he pointed out that the portals’ traffic has grown as well. “We want to give our listings the greatest exposure possible,” he said.

Edina Realty claims to be the region’s largest real estate company, with about 2,300 agents working out of more than 60 offices.

From February 2013 to August 2014, Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and Edina Realty all grew their Web market share in the Minneapolis-St. Paul demographic market area (DMA), according to data from analytics firm comScore.

Unique visitors from desktop computers to real estate sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, demographic market area

Network Number of unique visitors from desktop computers in February 2013* (% of total traffic) Number of unique visitors from desktop computers in August 2014* (% of total traffic)
Total in Minneapolis-St. Paul DMA 867,000 803,000
Zillow Network** 334,000 (38.5%) 334,000 (41.6%)
Trulia Network^ 188,000 (21.7%) 179,000 (22.3%)
Move Inc. network (realtor.com) 155,000 (17.9%) 159,000 (19.8%)
Edina Realty 84,000 (9.7%) 110,000 (13.7%)

Source: comScore. *Monthly average for the rolling three months **Includes traffic to Yahoo Homes ^Includes traffic to RentPath Inc. sites 

Edina Realty views the “big three” real estate sites — Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com — as online media sites and not competitors, Mason said. They are where consumers start, but Edina Realty’s website is where they end up, he said.

Mason said Edina Realty had not considered sending its listings in truncated form, with fewer photos and listing descriptions, as the Mid-South MLS RealTracs did recently to drive traffic to its members’ sites.

With direct feeds to Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, Edina Realty’s listings will be updated several times per hour on each site, ensuring that consumers have access to accurate info from Edina Realty on them, Mason said.