Edina Realty is waging war against third-party real estate Web sites. The company will begin pulling its listings from Trulia.com at the end of the month, and will also stop sending listings to realtor.com. Bob Peltier, head of the Twin Cities-based brokerage, says that he made the decision because he’s not convinced that the company’s agents and clients benefit from sharing their listings.
He’s also concerned about the way that information gets used In a memo to agents last week, Peltier said non-broker sites create confusion for consumers and that leads generated on those sites are often routed to agents who aren’t familiar with the property or the community. He also said the information on those sites is often outdated or inaccurate.
“Our clients are No. 1,” he said. “And we have an obligation to represent them according to a specific code of ethics and state law. That means we are invested in the integrity of the information we publish on their behalf. The inaccuracies we’ve seen on third-party aggregator sites give us cause for alarm, and the reality is that we are no longer willing to surrender our business – or the consumer’s real estate experience – to third party aggregators, who are not required to operate under the same rules and laws as brokers.”
The prevailing wisdom has been that the more eyes that see your listings, the better. That notion has led to the proliferation of dozens of national websites, but Peltier isn’t convinced that agents or consumers are well-served by them and that Edina Realty, which is owned by an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, has the resources to do a better job.
“We don’t rely on national sites for business. We drive our own business, and we have the analytics to prove it,” Peltier said. “We already know that edinarealty.com is the most popular real estate website in our region, and we look forward to concentrating our efforts on continuing to maintain our strong presence while providing consumers with accurate information and a superior real estate experience.”
Marshall Saunders, co-owner and broker at Remax Results, another top agency in town, disagrees with the decision. “I have a great respect for Edina Realty and the business decisions that they make, so I am assuming there is some rational that I don’t see,” he said. Saunders said that such sites have become more broker and agent friendly since the market downturn and that Realtor.com and Trulia make up two of the top three means by which to advertise listings on a national level.
“How can an agent sit across a table from a seller and tell them that their home will not be on the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular national web sites? It’s simply a failure to provide the very basic level of customer service to a client,” he said. “Not having a listing on Realtor.com makes it invisible to relocation clients coming in from around the country and around the world. No one in India or England has ever heard of EdinaRealty.com. However, they have heard of Realtor.com. How is the top-level surgeon from India going to find out about your listing in Edina? How is the Cargill executive moving here from London going to know about your listing for sale in Minnetonka?”
Saunders said that the decision is clearly at odds with broader trends in the industry, and he’s concerned that any brokerage that doesn’t participate in such third-party listing groups is putting buyers at a disadvantage. “It’s a bold move at a time when the broader real estate industry is moving towards more sharing, not less,” he said. “After decades of providing listings through regional multiple listing services, the Internet has transformed the industry into a great big marketplace in which individual brokerages are able to share their listings on a national and international level.”
Dave Gooden, co-founder of Lakeplace.com, a locally based national site for people buying and selling lake property and vacation homes, said that he agrees with Peltier’s decision. He said that lakeplace.com does syndicate its listings to the aggregators, but the group doesn’t rely on them to maintain their high standing among searchers. “The fact of the matter is that most of these aggregators are just another bullet point on a marketing plan, nothing more.” Gooden said he expects other large brokerages to follow suit.