MLS & Associations

ListHub stops syndication to Trulia and Zillow … so what?

It might be a logistical nightmare, but this decision will have little impact on consumers

Most Realtors would agree that maximum exposure to the marketplace results in maximum price. ListHub’s decision to pull the plug on the data it aggregates from 560 multiple listing services (MLSs) and syndicates to Trulia would seem to be a damaging decision to both agents and consumers — but is it really?

If you were to read the comments on the Raising the Bar in Real Estate Facebook group regarding Listhub’s decision to stop syndicating to Trulia, you would conclude that ListHub’s parent, Move Inc., a News Corp. subsidiary, is the big, bad wolf.

On the other hand, if you read the comments on Inman News, most commenters applauded ListHub’s decision. So what does this decision actually mean to the agent who is sitting in front of a seller and has to explain why that seller’s listing is no longer appearing on one or both of the portals?

While ListHub’s decision is a logistical nightmare for many, this decision will ultimately have little impact on consumers and their ability to find the data they are seeking online.

The great work-around society

I remember discussing the 2012 Presidential election with a friend in the software industry who wasn’t particularly concerned about the outcome. Her observation was this: “America is the great work-around society. No matter who wins, we’ll find away to work with it or work around it.”

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If there ever was a profession that constantly requires work-arounds, it’s real estate. It’s something that Realtors are paid to do every day, on virtually every transaction.

If there ever was a profession that constantly requires work-arounds, it's real estate.

The agent work-around

If the judge fails to grant Zillow’s request for a restraining order to prevent ListHub from stopping its syndication to Trulia, the most pressing work-around issue would occur on February 26. Assuming that your seller’s listing will no longer appear on Trulia, th best approach is to be proactive. Contact all your sellers and explain, “Last week, the merger between Trulia and Zillow was finalized. As a result, your listing will still continue to be displayed on Zillow, but it may no longer appear on Trulia.”

It’s always better to personally deliver any negative news as opposed to having your sellers discover it first. If the seller becomes upset, you can add: “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, your property will still continue to be on the Zillow website, the company that just acquired Trulia.”

If your company is syndicating through ListHub, you can also say, “Your listing will still continue to appear on 158 other websites, and we’re doing additional marketing on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Since most consumers visit up to 15 or more different real estate websites before making a decision, your buyers will have no issue finding your listing online because it is in so many places.”

When Zillow exits ListHub

On April 6, Zillow’s agreement with ListHub ends. Even if your brokerage doesn’t negotiate a direct feed to Zillow by that date, you can still upload your listings directly to Zillow.

More competition for brokers

A major concern voiced on the Raising the Bar group was how the ListHub decision could hurt small brokers. The big players will negotiate directly with Zillow or Trulia (or both). The small brokers lack clout and may be unable to obtain an agreement any time soon.

So what can an agent say to a seller who asks, “Will my listing be posted on Zillow and Trulia?” The response is similar to the one above. Assuming you have been using ListHub and realtor.com:

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, to provide you with maximum exposure to the marketplace, we syndicate our listings to over 160 real estate websites. We will post your listing in the ‘Make Me Move’ part of Zillow. In addition, our social media marketing plan includes creating a single property site on Facebook that uses your property address as the URL. We will also be posting your listing photos on Instagram and Pinterest as well as posting your video on YouTube. Would you like to discuss which rooms you would like to highlight in the photos and the video?”

The key point to remember is that for all the eyeballs that Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com generate, it’s hard to attribute where the buyer first saw the property because buyers typically search multiple sites. Even if buyers see listings on one of the portals, they will probably search YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram for additional pictures and videos before contacting an agent for an appointment. Your job is to make sure that your listings appear on all of these sites.

While the behemoths duke it out and the people at the top struggle to sort out the confusion, for agents who have their work-around prepared, this controversy all boils down to two words: so what?

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

Email Bernice Ross.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. A previous version of this story stated that “only 4 percent of … closed listing transactions came from an online source.” The research cited pertained to the percentage of sellers who found their listing agent online. The percentage of buyers who use the Internet to search for homes is much higher. The National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers found that 88 percent of all buyers used an online website in their home search, and that 43 percent of buyers found the home they eventually purchased on the Internet. The story has also been updated to note that agents can upload listings directly to Zillow.