If not the MLS, then who? NAR??? Yea right! A public facing website by the MLS just makes since! Do you think a broker can compete or maybe a franchise will step up and risk millions of dollars to compete? I just do not see that happening.
Even if a broker or a franchise did choose to spend millions, a year, to compete with Zillow, Trulia, it would not be a fair fight... Today, Zillow’s market cap was at 3.7 billion dollars. They have no rules to follow in regards to MLS rules and they are not a real estate company, they are an advertising company that just happens to sell ads to Realtors. Don’t get me wrong, I feel Zillow is a great company and has done a lot to make everyone better. And to top it all off, only that broker would benefit from the eyeballs to that website if they did indeed get any traffic away from the 3rd party companies. Plus they would be MANY years behind.
The only fair way is to let the MLS or the association win the race for relevance in regards to the consumer eyeballs and the consumer demands. If we as a collective group, REALTORS, give up the fight to control the consumer eyeballs to 3rd party companies, we are all going to pay through our pocket books! Once the competition goes away, the 3rd party companies get even richer... If the MLS wins, so does the Realtor! I understand that in Houston, the 3rd party companies are not doing well in regards to advertising rates compared to the rest of the country.. Why is that you ask? Maybe, because HAR.com kicks butt in our market and gives away millions of leads every year to our members... That is why you don’t see many ads from those companies in the HAR.com areas...
What everyone else is doing is NOT working, very well.... You are becoming less relevant to the consumer and companies like Zillow and Trulia are becoming more relevant. Just a few weeks ago, Zillow hosted President Obama in a town hall meeting.... I for one was embarrassed that it was not NAR doing that... Good on Zillow for making it happen... Shame on NAR for giving them the platform to make it happen... If we do not change, and soon, the industry we all know and love will be a thing of the past...
Okay, let’s look at a few more facts and yes, I know facts are boring, but they are the facts... HAR.com in 2012 produced 714,113 agent and broker leads at no additional cast to the member and 3,670,366 referrals to agent and broker websites. And these numbers do NOT include mobile and today, mobile traffic accounts for about 49% of HAR’s traffic. Again, I ask you to show me ANY site other than Zillow, Trulia that has done ANYTHING like this...
On May 8, 2013, the Wav Group and Victor Lund wrote a blog, “HAR.com Keeps on Rolling” And everyone knows that the Wav group is a great source of information and TRUTH on all things real estate... in Victor’s blog he looked at the math of what HAR.com is doing and how it works and I quote:
“HAR has delivered 4.7 Million leads back to REALTOR members over the past 16 years. If you use the $20 per lead industry benchmark – that is $94 Million dollars in value. If you divide that value by the number of agents in Houston, 24,000 – it equates to about $20 worth per agent per month – the exact price of the MLS dues. ($94 Million/16 years/12 months/24,000 REALTORS).”
And then he goes on to say:
“There are many pundits around the nation that are critical of the successful website operated by the Houston Association of REALTORS – HAR.com. The site has such outstanding success that no other website can compete with reaching the online consumer in any meaningful way. To be sure, some brokers are not very happy about it. They would prefer to have their broker website in the position of being number one. I empathize with those preferences, but they are not very realistic. HAR.com delivers one of the most outstanding value added benefits to its members found anywhere in the nation. Consider the following.”
So, with that being said, who do you want to win the race for the consumer? Zillow, Trulia or a just maybe an association or MLS that has its memberships back and will do everything in its power to make its membership more profitable??? And on another note, some of the larger brokers, want to charge their agents for these leads as well...
We could go back to the MLS books and no websites and not let the consumer see anything... But really. Is that what is best for the Realtor industry?
So, we as Realtors have a choice, “A”, let the 3rd party companies win and charge all realtors more for leads and be the source for all listings or “B” give the MLS more power to compete with a public facing website and control the Realtor destiny.
The fact of the matter is, the HAR.com website works and the ComScore and Hitwise numbers are in the books showing the real facts. And we publish the total numbers at har.com/webstats. Har.com can also back up this fact with ad revenue that helps our Realtor membership keep its dues to some of lowest in the industry and the best tools available to any Realtor!
Now lets talk about the consumer and what they want. Because without them, we really don’t need to have this discussion do we?
In April of 2013, HAR did an Agent Satisfaction Survey of about 6500 consumers that had bought or sold a house in the last 12 months and found that 92% of the consumers found that HAR.com was trusted more than anyother real estate site in the greater Houston area. The consumer is demanding the RIGHT information and HAR.com is doing its best to provide it to them. The consumer is the tool we must use to make the correct decision in regards to what they want and what we can give them.
So, I ask again, If not the MLS, then who?
Chairman of the Houston Association of Realtor
Agent - Prudential Anderson Properties
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