Realtor.com now identifies the listing agent on all for-sale listings, and will soon give them the opportunity to provide linkbacks to their own websites from their profile pages on the site, prompting North Alabama Multiple Listing Service to turn its listings feed to the portal back on.

North Alabama MLS, which serves close to 3,000 members of seven Realtor associations, suspended the feed in May over concerns about a lack of attribution for listing agents and a desire that realtor.com include a linkback to its website, valleymls.com.

Realtor.com still doesn’t provide a linkback to the MLS site, but it made enough other changes that North Alabama MLS was comfortable turning its listing feed to the site back on last Friday, said CEO Kipp Cooper.

Realtor.com rolled out listing agent attribution on all listings site-wide about five months ago — it formerly provided information on the listing broker — but had not made an official announcement, a Move spokeswoman said.

Cooper said realtor.com will also provide agents who belong to North Alabama MLS with analytics about their listings for free. A Move spokeswoman said all agents, whether advertisers or not, will also get access to this reporting when the firm rolls out the feature sometime next spring.

North Alabama MLS is one of several MLSs, Realtor associations and other organizations that realtor.com partnered with to make the new changes to the site, realtor.com noted in a press release about the new features and the resumption of North Alabama MLS’s feed.

North Alabama MLS made waves last October when it began handling its own syndication, negotiating individual licenses with Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com that ensured listing agents were prominently displayed on their listings on those sites with linkbacks to the listings on its site. The MLS maintained a separate feed to realtor.com at the time.

Though it will not provide links back to North Alabama MLS’s website, realtor.com will give listing agents the opportunity to link to their own websites from new profile pages that are currently in beta testing and are scheduled to debut by the end of the year. All agents who have claimed their realtor.com profile automatically receive a free link to it from their realtor.com listings. (See the new version of realtor.com’s agent profile page here.)

Profile-link
Listing agents who have claimed their realtor.com profile get a link to their profile page on their listings. From the profile page they can include links to their website in addition to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. See the beta version of Huntsville, Alabama, agent Roy Claytor’s new realtor.com profile page here

It will take consumers three clicks to navigate to an agent’s site from a realtor.com listing detail page. They’ll first have to click on the agent profile link that shows up toward the bottom of the listing, then click “View Contact Info” on the profile page, and then click “View Website” in the pop-up window.

Realtorcom-profile-link
Agents can put a link to their website in addition to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts from the new realtor.com profile pages. Consumers click “View Contact Info” and then “View Website” in the pop-up window to go to the agent’s site.

“We’re very disappointed (realtor.com didn’t agree to put a linkback to the MLS site on listings),” Cooper said. But the linkbacks that listing agents can place on their new profile pages convinced the MLS to turn the realtor.com feed back on, he said.

Cooper says his MLS is interested in securing linkbacks to its site so it can provide free leads to its member brokers. Each month, the site provides an average of 1,000 leads to its members, he said. In August, that total was behind the number of leads both Zillow and Trulia supplied the MLS’s members, but above that of Homes.com, according to Cooper.

  Number of leads for NALMLS member broker/agents off of unenhanced listings in August
Zillow 2,080
Trulia 1,100
North Alabama MLS public-facing website 1,009
Homes.com 600

Source: North Alabama MLS

These changes to realtor.com will be site-wide, although it’s unclear at this time whether all agents will also have access to analytics.

When NALMLS suspended the feed in May, realtor.com said it didn’t want to make changes to its site in the North Alabama region to appease North Alabama MLS’s demands while maintaining a different display protocol in other markets. A Move spokeswoman said at the time that realtor.com was “committed to providing a level field of opportunity for all Realtors, and cannot extend services to some that others pay for as an investment in their business.”

Realtor.com is set to roll out other changes aimed at addressing concerns some brokers and agents have about the display of listings on the portal. The site is looking at how to enhance broker and MLS attribution, among other changes that will begin to roll out in spring 2015, a Move spokeswoman said.

Cooper says he’s particularly happy about the changes to listing agent attribution on realtor.com’s mobile app and mobile website, calling the modification “fantastic.” Realtor.com listings on mobile now feature the name of the listing agent and broker prominently on the opening screen of listing detail pages, whether they’re advertised by the agent or brokerage or not.

realtor.com-changes
Realtor.com now features listing brokers/agents prominently on listing detail pages on its mobile site and mobile app.

Prominent attribution is free to all listing agents and brokers on mobile. But if the listing agent or broker has not paid to enhance the listing, consumers are directed to a lead form that connects them to a competing agent or agents when they hit an email button at the bottom of the home screen.

Consumers visiting realtor.com on a laptop or desktop computer will see the listing agent’s information on listing detail pages, but this attribution is far down the page and requires some scrolling. “We’d like to see it higher,” Cooper said.

The changes to realtor.com are the latest move in a contest between national listing portals to be seen as the most industry friendly. When News Corp announced its deal to purchase realtor.com operator Move last month, Zillow Chief Revenue Officer Greg Schwartz said it would compete head to head with realtor.com to be the most attractive partner to the real estate industry.

Zillow, which is expected to close its planned acquisition of Trulia next year, has built out a large and growing industry relations team this year. After adding former realtor.com execs Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley in March, Zillow brought three other industry insiders on board to build relationships with MLSs and brokerages.

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