Updated: Major Franchises Make a Big Move With Move

Jan 11, 2012  |  Michael Wurzer

Readers of the FBS Blog may recall the controversy at the last few NAR meetings over franchises using IDX listings on their franchise portal web sits. First NAR voted to allow franchises the use IDX listings and then said they couldn’t. In saying they couldn’t, the recommendation was that franchise sites should be treated the same as any other listing portal (e.g., Zillow, Trulia, etc.) and receive data via syndication.

In response, several of the largest real estate franchises (C21, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, Realty Executives) recently announced a major new initiative with Move, Inc. and its Listhub syndication subsidiary to streamline that syndication. The new syndication network is called the Real Estate Network (REN) and is described as follows in the press release:

With the launch of REN, the 376 MLSs and 43,000 brokerage firms currently distributing listings through ListHub may now choose to send their listings to one or more sites within the network with one easy click. Participating brokers and MLSs retain full control over where their listings are and are not syndicated to within the network. One set of standardized, industry-friendly rules will govern the display of listings on publisher websites in the network, and can be found at: http://www.listhub.net/networkrules.html. Franchisors themselves will also participate in the network, displaying each other’s listing inventory on their websites.

I’m still processing what this new syndication network means for MLSs but I think two key points are made in the last two sentences in the quote above.

Starting with the last first, it sounds like the network will facilitate direct franchise to franchise syndication, bypassing the MLS. That seems pretty significant.

Update: I chatted with Rob Reed from Listhub at Inman Connect and he said there is no franchise-franchise syndication, rather the syndicated data is coming from the MLS systems and each franchise site is another syndication destination from the MLS according to the discretion of the listing broker.

Second, the rules are now being established by the license agreements that are part of this syndication network, not NAR and not the MLS. That, too, seems pretty significant.

The billion dollar question, of course, is whether the initiative already has or will achieve critical mass of participation from additional franchises and independent brokerages.

Victor Lund over at the WAV Group blog has some great quotes of various reactions to this new initiative. I’m interested to hear your reaction to this new initiative. Please comment below.

6 Responses to “Updated: Major Franchises Make a Big Move With Move”

  1. This appears to be a clear case of unfair competition with the 4 franchises limiting competition from everyone else. If it is not determined to be illegal then the rest of us need to agree to disallow our listings from those sites.

  2. John Mijac. says:

    It seems to me that an agreement by “the rest of us” to withhold listings would be an anti-trust violation. I’d be careful about that, whatever happens with this initiative. Frankly, I think NAR should have stuck with the first decision to allow IDX feeds to franchises.

  3. I was with an independent for three years and recently bought a RE/MAX franchise. All of this seems to be directed at protecting brokers rather than serving clients. If you represent a seller, I think you have an obligation to maximize the exposure that client receives for their listing. To not allow syndication would seem to be a contrary to your client’s best interest. Would Paul really deny syndication to Trulia, Zillow, or the other websites! Come on! We work for our clients – not our own best interests!

  4. Chris, I think you are taking a myopic perspective here. I am only advocating for a fair playing field, which will benefit brokers and consumers alike. Would anyone argue that the power given to large banks in the last few years was a good thing for consumers? Well neither is it a good thing in the brokerage industry. And we are not talking about sites like Trulia & Zillow.

  5. To be honest, the technical aspects of the IDX and syndication elude me. However, it has been my experience that potential home buyers visit multiple sites, in any case. They’ll click on Trulia, Zillow and [Franchise].com.

    Personally, I’m in favor of Realtors/Brokers taking back the power of their listings and disseminating them in a more focused manner. It irks me to know end to work hard for a listing just to have it syndicated to Trulia or Zillow who will them offer me their “premier” services for big bucks.

    It is in my Seller client’s best interest to find a financially qualified buyer with whom he/she can have a “meeting of the minds”. Widespread syndication doesn’t necessarily facilitate that, in my humble opinion.

  6. Blair Myers says:

    Concerning these issues it has always seemed clear to me that the independent companies are upset that the franchises are using their clout and larger organization to develop a higher level of marketing service to their clients. But isn’t that the idea behind individual people and smaller groups organizing into a larger group as in a franchise or with independents coming together in the organization “Leading Real Estate Companies of the World?” Independents choose to be so to remain on their own. That’s fine. But then don’t get upset that larger organized groups of people (in franchises in this instance) are working towards bringing their clients greater visibility through strategic marketing placement. It’s your choice to be independent. It’s their choice to be organized into a franchise. There’s good and bad to both, but I have always felt and continue to feel it’s not “unfair,” it’s simply the power people have when they organize into larger groups or organizations and how they harness that to better serve their clients. If you continue to think it’s unfair, join a franchise.