More Syndication Debates and Logic Traps
The “sindication” debates continue with recent announcements from Sandicor, Northeast Florida MLS, and Metrolist in Colorado. Following these announcements, Rob Hahn wrote another post arguing that logic dictates that these and earlier announcements by others portend the doom of IDX. In essence, Rob argues that the arguments of syndication apply with equal force to IDX and so those stopping syndication also are killing IDX.
With this post, I’m hopeful to clarify the different types of syndication and how IDX is different from all types of syndication. Here are my definitions:
- Broker Syndication — Where the broker chooses (opts in) to send their listings (and only their listings) to a third-party listing advertising portal. MLSs can and do provide tools such as ListHub or Point2 to help brokers syndicate but that is to be distinguished from MLS Syndication.
- MLS Syndication — Where the MLS syndicates a feed of all listings (other than those opted out of the feed by brokers) direct to a third-party listing advertising portal. As indicated by the bolded terms opt-in and opt-out, MLS Syndication is different than Broker Syndication in that MLS Syndication sends all listings by default unless the broker chooses not to send them (opts out) whereas Broker Syndication is an opt-in approach. (Theoretically, an MLS could syndicate the entire active listing database to a third-party portal with no ability to opt-out, but I’m not aware of any MLS doing that and so have limited the definition of MLS syndication to an opt-out broker choice.) This distinction between opt-out and opt-in broker choice (and, therefore, between Broker and MLS syndication) is very important, because opt-in (Broker Syndication) will significantly reduce the number of listings being sent to any one third-party portal whereas opt-out (MLS Syndication) will result in more listings being sent to the third-party portal.
- IDX — Where brokers (MLS Participants) agree with each other to share listings for display on their respective web sites. The primary distinction between IDX and syndication (both MLS and Broker) is that IDX does not involve display of the listing on a third party portal. Instead, the web sites involved are the broker’s or their agent’s own sites and the IDX policy is the terms on which they agree to share listings on their web sites. IDX policies actually come in two flavors as well, opt-in and opt-out, but the primary difference between syndication and IDX is not whether the broker is opted-in or out but rather the destination site and who controls the rules for display on that site. With syndication, the third party web site dictates the terms and with IDX the terms of display are dictated by the IDX policy.
From the above definitions, there are two major distinctions among the terms:
- The extent to which the aggregate of MLS data is involved versus just the listings of one broker.