The Austin Board of REALTORS has decided that they will, effective April 2014 terminate its role with ListHub. This move will effectively end the role that the MLS has played in facilitating syndication of listing data to a large number of non-REALTOR websites.
According to the announcement, this will occur after a 6 month period for member input and due diligence. The effect of this will essentially mean that many syndicators who currently buy their data from ListHub will be left with out those listings to power their real estate websites UNLESS individual members syndicate the listings on their own. While reactions around the industry vary, the threat to syndicators is real if this pattern continues and other MLSs follow suit.
One REALTOR assessed the situation this way. “If syndicators have to get listings from individual brokers, the cost of acquiring those listings goes up significantly and people coming to websites WANT to see all of the listings. If other Boards of REALTORS take this same approach, it could seriously impact the business model that many syndicators such as Zillow and Trulia enjoy today. ”
Another REALTOR commented that the reasoning behind this was sound. “The innaccurate data on non-REALTOR sites creates headaches for consumers and REALTORS alike. I am constantly getting calls about homes that are already sold.” Another complained about Zestimates (a home valuation tool offered by Zillow, one of the syndicators) “They are not accurate and all they do is create the perception in a confused seller’s mind that we do not know what we are talking about. It is NOT good for the consumer.”
This decision is sure to cause some controversy inside the industry, but the real impact will be if other Boards of REALTORS follow Austin’s example and start shutting down automated feeds to ListHub and other syndication portal that feed a large number of the industry’s non REALTOR sites. That could FURTHER erode the stock prices of Zillow, REALTOR.com, and others. Zillow has already seen a significant stock price drop recently.
What are your thoughts?