Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman wants to enlist the support of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), to get property portals like Zillow to include a (Google index-able) hyperlink back to the listing agent’s office website. Maybe that is the way to go to break the current portal monopoly ‘tax’ agents pass on to their clients?
Two important points he raises:
- The MLS should not pick “winners” among property portals with custom deals for selective sites. Encourage a level playing field and encourage fair competition. This is something I’ve been advocating for long, including my dissatisfaction of some South African industry groups partnering and promoting certain portals only. It goes deeper, with the particular service providers refusing to provide external feeds out to other portals as it would obviously impact negatively on their own portal (every portal or services provider tries to ‘own’ the real estate industry with having the most listings, while we should look at more open and transparent data).
It’s time or more open data (listings)
It is time South African estate agents stand up to the current diabolical situation and push for more fair an open sharing of listing data to portals and push to have choice on where they want to advertise. Your listings, your rules.
Increased competition, created by more and open data, will force every portal too re-evaluate their pricing strategy.
This is why we have created Sync, it is a stand alone Listing Syndication system and the only standalone service available in South Africa and Namibia with an open API. We promote more open data through this, and allow agents to choose which listing system they want to use. Some of our national clients have created their own listing systems that uses the Sync API for their listing syndication, allowing them to focus on the CRM side of their business apps.
We push anything up to 100,000 listings a month through Sync to portals and store millions of listing photos on our cloud infrastructure through AWS’s cloudfront network.
The platform allows one listing format to be submitted to all portals: Sync handles the rest, including all background interface updates, maintenance etc. We are constantly striving to improve the reliability (our 1st priority) and speed of listing updates. One of the key technical challenges is to ensure listings update correctly irrespective of load. If we have 10,000 listing updates done in the morning, we need ensure that our services can scale (and also ensure we don’t overload the receiving portals). A pro-active approach goes a long way in minimizing support.
Currently, updates to direct feed portals like MyProperty, Property24 and Private Property on average takes about 2 minutes. Various background checks are in place to alert our team on any delays or issues. It is a full time job, and with every portal we add (Property Matcher and Flowliving up soon) it increases our support and operational cost. We are therefor in a constant optimization mode to keep things efficient. Luckily, it is a job we love :)