Did you miss the email we sent to you about Berkshire MLS listing syndication this week? We posted the message on-line so you can reference it any time. Here is the story… Our Berkshire Designated REALTORS and MLS Board of Directors have been busy addressing many listing syndication changes we are facing right now. We’ve discovered that some agents have received misleading emails from syndication sites. For this reason, we want to clarify the situation and assure you that we are on top of it!
The basics: What is Syndication? Listing syndication is a method for you to authorize distribution of your listings to consumer portals hosted by third parties like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com and many others. When your listings are sent from the MLS to other publishers, that is “syndication”.
A little background: Syndication Changes from Point2Agent -> ListHub
The MLS Board investigated the only two MLS syndication providers available last year, to see if we were wise to remain a client of Point2Agent…. The Board decided that ListHub had a better product and began negotiations in 2014 to change our syndication services. As we were preparing to sign the contract, we were informed that ListHub had purchased Point2Agent and we would be a part of the merger. Stay tuned for the conversion, they said.
Merger Finalized: FAST action to Keep Listing Syndicated
In the beginning of February, we received notice that Point2Agent syndication would stop on February 19th and our brokers could register with ListHub to continue to syndicate through a new dashboard. It was not possible in the time frame given to make sure that syndication would continue uninterrupted. This was not acceptable. We worked with ListHub to set up the system so that we would CONTINUE to syndicate all Berkshire listings that had “syndicate” checked off on the export tab. We limited the number of syndication sites to 20 most frequently used by consumers. (we had approx. 20 minutes to make this decision). Brokers (and in some cases, agents) can change those sites to include more than 95+ publishers, or limit the sites to none.
Patience While Brokerage Accounts are Created
We held regional meetings with our Designated REALTORS to alert them of the need to create brokerage accounts and the steps to take to make office decisions about syndication sites. Please understand that Brokerage accounts need to be verified before they can be fully operational, so setting up a company’s syndication changes can take up to a week. Brokerage accounts must be completed before agents can create an account.
The Syndication Wars: Direct Syndication Contract with Zillow In Progress
During the interim, we learned that ListHub would no longer syndicate to Zillow as of April. The MLS Board, led by the ever capable President Mary Jane White, took immediate action to hire the best data attorney to negotiate a contract with Zillow (including Trulia) so that we can provide all brokers with the option of syndicating directly and easily to Zillow, (or not) no later than April 2015. With a sigh, we thought we had covered all of our bases.
Our Listings will Stay on Trulia until mid-March due to Court Order
Calamity struck when the Zillow and Trulia merger went through and ListHub publicly announced that they would stop syndicating to Trulia since their publisher agreement was no longer valid. Zillow filed in court and was granted an injunction until a March 15th court date. ListHub will continue to power Trulia until then. Berkshire listings are still displayed on both sites thanks to quick work by the Board Office staff and MLS Board of Directors.
Stop-Gap Contracts a Cause of Concern
The MLS Board had an emergency meeting to discuss a Stop Gap contract offered by Trulia to syndicate directly regardless of the ListHub court decision. Thankfully, we had already engaged the data licensing attorney who listed several risks and concerns with the agreement as written. The MLS Board reviewed the advice of counsel, the agreement in its entirety and voted to NOT enter into the proposed stop-gap agreement.
What happens to Trulia after March 15?
We have done two things to hopefully make the transition seamless… first we are working hard to negotiate the master contract with Zillow and Trulia, so that when you are entering your listing, you can decide right in the MLS if you’d like to syndicate to them. If you check off to syndicate to Zillow/Trulia, your listing will be part of the feed sent directly from the MLS. If we are NOT able to execute the full contract by March 15th, FlexMLS also engaged our attorney to create a stop gap agreement that fully protects the MLS and our members.
What now? Office Conversations and Training are Your Next Step
First, talk to your broker about listing syndication and the brokerage setup for distribution. Where and how your office will chose to syndicate will affect your abilities going forward. You may not need to do anything if your brokerage is handling it. In some instances you can register for an account and change settings. Then, we have scheduled training for ListHub Basic users (FREE account) and is your first step in learning how to create and manage an effective online marketing strategy using ListHub.
Choose how and when you prefer to learn!
- Tuesday, March 10, 2015: Agent Training Online Webinar: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Register for the Webinar
- Friday, March 27, 2015: Agent Training Live @ the Board Office: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Register for the Live Class
- Anytime Videos Available at http://www.youtube.com/listhub
- Generic Webinars: Getting Started with Your ListHub Basic Account on Wednesdays @ 11 am EST and Thursdays @ 2 pm EST or Setting up and Maximizing Your ListHub Pro/Pro Plus Account on Wednesdays @ 2 pm EST and Thursdays @ 11 am EST Go to https://www.listhub.com/webinar-schedule.html
New Field: Syndication Listing Reference URL
On your input form, in the last tab called “EXPORT” you’ll see our current syndication options. You can expect that two new listing export options will be added within the next few weeks: Zillow/Trulia and The Berkshire Eagle. Additionally, you should see immediately that there is a new “Syndication Listing Reference URL” field. You can speak to your broker about the address you should place here (if at all). This is a field for a direct website link to the page on your website with additionally property / contact information for the listing you are entering. This should not be a generic link to your website, but only to the PROPERTY page on your website where the listing is featured.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Sandy@BerkshireRealtors.org and we’d be happy to help as best as possible.
Berkshire County Board of REALTORS, Inc.
Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
99 West Street, Suite 200, Pittsfield MA 01201
Phone (413) 442-8049 Mobile: 413-822-2544
BerkshireRealtors.org or BerkshireRealtors.com