What home sellers don’t know…

…will definitely hurt them.

I was poking around this morning doing some research on enhancing real estate searches for our Web site. We’re about to introduce building specific searches. While testing the listings for 340 On The Park I discovered that we are only allowed to show 9 listings, while there are actually 15 units for sale in the building. Why can’t we show those other 6 listings? Well, we could if we required you to register but we don’t want to do that because registration is a pain in the ass. Furthermore, it’s a real turn off for real estate buyers who are afraid that some pushy real estate agent is going to start harassing them – not to mention that many home buyers provide bogus registration information when faced with that requirement.

But why do we have to get you to register to see these other 6 listings? Because the real estate brokers that are listing those units do not participate in an arcane and convoluted program called broker reciprocity. As explained in that prior post real estate listings from brokers that participate in the program get put in the IDX feed, which is broadly available on all realtor Web sites without registration. If a broker does not participate, their real estate listings are only available in the VOW feed that requires registration to access on a realtor’s Web site.

What is surprising about the 340 On The Park situation is that 6 out of 15 listings are not in the IDX feed. That’s a huge number. Just the other day I did a quick estimate and determined that in the city of Chicago only about 2 – 3% of the real estate listings are missing from the IDX feed, which is consistent with what the MLS folks tell me. That’s the reason that we decided to not require registration on our site.

So why is 340 On The Park so different? It all comes down to the dominant broker in the building who has all 6 of those listings. Apparently, this broker does not participate in the reciprocity program. This is especially peculiar in light of the fact that a real estate broker has to actually go through the trouble of opting out of the broker reciprocity program. In addition, opting out of the program only prevents the listings from showing up on other realtors’ Web sites. The listing brokerage still has the ability to advertise the listing on any Web site they choose – e.g. Realtor.com, where these “missing” listings do appear and without registration. So the listing brokerage selectively withholds access from the Web sites of brokers like us who refuse to require registration for accessing MLS listings (we still have access to the properties through the MLS system but we can’t put them on our Web site without requiring registration).

All of these shenanigans highlight yet another problem you can run into using the top producer. So, if your home is currently listed and you want to find out if your realtor is holding out on you just check for your home on our site. If it doesn’t show up then it’s not getting the broadest distribution possible.

As I asked before, why would any broker not want their listings to receive the broadest exposure possible? Could it be that they are trying to restrict access to their listings so as to increase  the likelihood of their getting both sides of the transaction? Nahhhh. A real estate broker would never put their own self-interest above that of their client.

Leave a Reply