RE/MAX Select, an East Coast real estate franchise with more than 200 agents, is severing its ties with realtor.com‘s lead generation platform after 17 years over what it says has been a deterioration of that business service since realtor.com’s parent company Move, Inc. acquired lead referral platform Opcity nearly a year ago to bolster realtor.com’s offerings.
Move Inc., a subsidiary of News Corp, is the operator of realtor.com. In October 2018, Move Inc., closed on the acquisition of Opcity.
Rob Lyszczarz, president of RE/MAX Select, told Inman that he thought starting at that time that it would be awkward to have a marketing partner in realtor.com who now has a sister company that’s also a direct competitor for referral business.
“It was discovered by RE/MAX Select that Opcity, which in many cases was receiving the same leads it is selling to brokers [separately through Realtor.com], would, in fact, receive leads before the brokerage who pays realtor.com,” RE/MAX Select said in an e-mailed statement to Inman.
“Then realtor.com through their Opcity call center would immediately call and identify themselves as being from realtor.com (the site they [the customer/lead] made the inquiry on) to further their financial advantage in converting these leads, and collect a referral fee.”
Lyszczarz also accused realtor.com of failing to adequately scrub their database for agents using the system essentially as a multiple listing service to reach other listing agents for an appointment, or for agents looking to see where the inquiries on their listings are routed.
“This discovery was shocking as realtor.com had throughout the years proclaimed to exclude these types of inquiries from their lead count to fulfill their contracts,” the company said. “With leads often costing $100 or more each, these practices make working with realtor.com impractical and unsustainable.”
Asked about RE/MAX Select’s decision to sever ties, a spokesperson for Move Inc., told Inman that the company does not comment on individual client relationships.
In the wake of Move Inc.’s acquisition of realtor.com, the company has slowly been testing a pilot in certain markets, where it replaces its traditional lead generation platform with the referral offering from Opcity, angering many brokers who use the platform.
Through the traditional lead generation model, when consumers opt to contact an agent on a listing, that contact is sent to one of the agents who has paid for lead generation service in that ZIP code. It’s a way for agents to generate buyer leads.
When News Corp. acquired Opcity, it opened up the opportunity for realtor.com to integrate the concierge service into the platform. So now, when that same consumer attempts to contact an agent, they will instead be vetted by Opcity before being directly connected with that agent.
Opcity works on a referral fee, so the company only gets paid when an agent closes a deal with one of the leads the platform provides.
The company has, in the past, declined to disclose the fee, but real estate tech advisor Mike DelPrete has estimated it to be somewhere in the range of 30-35 percent of the buyer agent’s commission.
The company claims it was once a top 20 spender on realtor.com and Lyszczarz used to speak publicly and advocate for the company.
RE/MAX Select operates 13 offices in New Jersey – and one soon to come in Florida – with more than 200 agents. The brokerage ranked 397th on the Swanepoel Mega 1000 list of top brokerages, with $778 million in sales volume and 2,645 transactions closed in 2018. It was also ranked the 38th most productive RE/MAX franchise on the Real Trends 500.
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