To pull or not to pull?

Inman News

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that in addition to a desire to increase traffic to its own website, Edina Realty has cited innacuracies in listings data on third-party listing portals as a reason for withholding data from those sites. Also, Edina Realty said it does not charge agents website referral fees for leads on their own listings. Although it does charge referral fees for other Web leads, its fee structure is less than the 35 percent claimed by a former agent, and is assessed according to sales price as well as a number of other factors, the company said.

When one of the largest real estate brokerages in the U.S. announced last year it was pulling its listings from national real estate portals like Realtor.com and Trulia, it got the industry's attention.

Some brokers have complained about the advertisements that third-party listing portals run next to their listings. But Minnesota-based Edina Realty Inc. was the first large brokerage to sever ties with all of them, saying the move was good for competition locally and it hoped to boost traffic to its own website.

Edina Realty, which operates in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul market, western Wisconsin and parts of North Dakota, claims the decision to stop providing listings to the national portals has improved Web market share and been good for business. But some Web metrics -- and an Edina Realty competitor -- say otherwise.

A 2,100-agent HomeServices of America Inc. subsidiary, Edina Realty had never syndicated listings to Zillow. The company shut off the flow of listings to Trulia in November 2011 and Realtor.com in May.

Edina Realty at a glance

No. of current listings (approx.) No. of agents Total No. of listings in market (approx.) Realtor.com, syndication status Zillow, syndication status Trulia, syndication status
9,000 2,100 23,000 Stopped, May 2012 Never syndicated to Stopped, Nov. 2011

Source: Edina Realty

Now, consumers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market no longer get a comprehensive picture of what homes are on the market if they start their home search on one of the three most-visited national real estate portals -- Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com.

Edina Realty says it represents about 20 percent of the listings in NorthstarMLS, the large regional MLS serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul market (the brokerage is a member of 14 MLSs all told).

Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com command close to a third of the real estate-related Web traffic market share in the U.S., if their various partners are included in the tally.

While several brokerages have stopped syndicating listings to third-party sites like Zillow and Trulia, it's more unusual for them to cut off the flow of data to Realtor.com, which is operated by Move Inc. under the terms of an agreement with the National Association of Realtors.

In January, a small San Diego-based brokerage, ARG Abbott Realty Group, pulled listings from Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Realtor.com says ARG and Edina are the only brokerages currently withholding listings from the site.

U.S.-wide market share* of real estate-related websites, November 2012

Rank Company Domain Market share
1 Zillow zillow.com 9.21%
2 Trulia trulia.com 7.41%
3 Realtor.com realtor.com 6.22%
4 Yahoo Homes homes.yahoo.com 6.05%
5 Homes.com homes.com 3.18%
6 MSN Real Estate realestate.msn.com 1.83%
7 Rent.com rent.com 1.57%
8 AOL Real Estate realestate.aol.com 1.46%
9 ZipRealty ziprealty.com 1.29%
10 Apartment Guide
apartmentguide.com 1.27%

Source: Experian Hitwise *Does not include traffic from mobile devices

Thanks to its ties to the National Association of Realtors, Realtor.com enjoys nearly comprehensive listing coverage in most of the U.S., receiving listings data directly from more than 900 MLSs.

While Zillow and Trulia and other national listing portals receive listings from MLSs in some markets, they rely heavily on listing "syndicators" like ListHub and Point2 that gather up data from brokerages.

Since Edina Realty stopped syndicating to Realtor.com and other national portals, consumers who want to see listings represented by the brokerage must get them from an MLS-affiliated site -- either Edina Realty's website, websites operated by other brokerages affiliated with one of the MLSs that Edina Realty belongs to, or sites operated by MLSs themselves.

Edina Realty agents handled 21,814 transaction sides in 2011, representing the buyer, seller or both in home sales totaling $4.48 billion.

The brokerage has closed 23 percent more transactions through July than the same period last year, said Edina Realty President and CEO Bob Peltier.

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