Edina Realty closes the door on Realtor.com

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2012 - 9:55 PM

The brokerage said it broke with the website to have better control over listings and commissions.

Edina Realty is pulling its listings from Realtor.com, the second relationship it has ended with a national website.

The Twin Cities-based brokerage says its decision to part ways with Realtor.com and other major sites is part of an effort to better control the quality and marketing of its listings and the commissions that are paid when a property is sold. Already, Edina Realty has severed ties with Trulia.com, a controversial decision that some expected would affect the reach of its listings.

"Edina Realty agents and home sellers will miss out on exposure to our national audience of more than 20 million monthly unique users," said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

Edina Realty's relationship with Realtor.com will end immediately, but it may take several days for the listings to disappear from the website.

Traditionally, brokerages have relied on regional listing services for exposure, but the proliferation of digital technology has spawned several national websites that corral and distribute listings from brokerages across the country.

Bob Peltier, president and CEO of Edina Realty Home Services, said in the process of sharing listings with third-party operators, the company lost control of its listing information.

"Consumers are getting the short end of the stick on these sites because there's no guarantee that the property data is accurate, and it's difficult to tell who the listing broker is," he said.

Peltier is also concerned that the lead-generating systems on those sites often mean that sales commissions aren't being paid to the listing agents and that buyers and sellers aren't connecting with agents with local expertise.

He also said third-party aggregators don't have the same legal obligations as brokers, so they are not held to the same standards of data accuracy and customer service.

The company's decision to opt out of national sites has been closely watched by agents and brokerages across the country. It's bold, some say, because of a common belief that the best way to find a buyer is to expose the listing to the biggest possible audience.

Realtor.com is run on behalf of the National Association of Realtors by move.com.

As of Wednesday the website had 4.2 million homes from across the country, and 320,000 rentals.

David Linger, executive vice president and regional director of ReMax North Central, said Edina Realty is eliminating an important source of potential buyers.

"It is not in the best interest of its clients," he said.

Samuelson of Realtor.com disagrees with Peltier's claim that accuracy is a problem. The listings, he said, are "sourced directly from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and are updated every 15 minutes to 24 hours every day directly by our MLS partners."

Edina agents who choose to advertise with Realtor.com directly can still display their listings on the site, Samuelson said. He also added that his understanding of Edina Realty's decision is motivated by "a desire to channel as many consumers as possible through their own website."

Indeed, Peltier said that he's focusing his time and money on driving traffic to the Edina Realty website. That's in large part because there weren't enough leads generated by third-party sites outside the company's primary market to justify giving up control, he said.

Peltier added that most buyers are shopping for a house within 12 miles of their current residence. Because of that, the company is working on other ways to promote its listings, including investing in search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities so that people who use the Web to find local listings and other market information will automatically be directed to the Edina Realty website.

"Consumers need agents with expertise in their local areas," Peltier said.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

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