Every REALTOR® can tell the story: an excited client calls about a property they found on their favorite home search website, the agent looks up the property, only to find it sold two months ago. It’s never fun being the bearer of bad news, yet increasingly, REALTORS® are put in this position because of bad data running rampant across non-REALTOR® home search sites.
Today, it’s not uncommon for consumers to find duplicate, outdated, and inaccurate listings online. In response to growing member feedback about syndication, the ACTRIS Advisory Committee established the Syndication Task Force to examine these issues. The task force derived the following assessments after more than a year of research:
- Non-REALTOR® websites may damage the reputation of REALTORS® when consumers access inaccurate information they contain or when they believe their REALTOR® to be misinformed about property valuations. Examples include when clients feel they’re missing out on properties that they find on non-REALTOR® websites, but which are actually no longer available. Additionally, inaccurate property valuation estimates on these sites are especially misleading.
- The display of listing data by some non-REALTOR® websites is not consistent with the rules and regulations of ACTRIS or the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, by which members are required to abide and support consumer protection.
- The manner in which listing agent information is displayed by some non-REALTOR®consumer websites misleads consumers about who actually represents a seller, encouraging them to contact someone who may not be knowledgeable about the property or the market area.
- ABoR can support members in marketing their listings without facilitating syndication of members’ data to non-REALTOR® websites and by doing so, seek to avoid the negative impact that practice can have on members and consumers.
The task force concluded that the practice of syndicating to third-party websites that misuse broker’s listing data negatively affects homeowners diminishes the value and reputation of REALTORS®.
Not all Websites are Created Equal
ABoR will continue to offer syndication to advertising websites that are “REALTOR®-friendly” – that is, websites that adhere to ABoR’s Data Integrity Standards"consistent with the Code of Ethics. Sites like AustinHomeSearch.com, TexasRealEstate.com, and Realtor.com differ from non-REALTOR® websites because they display only the most up-to-date listings directly from the MLS; consumers won’t find any duplicate listings or off-market homes. And because these sites are affiliated with ABoR’s data integrity standards, the accurate, comprehensive property data works to reinforce the credibility of the REALTOR® profession.
If a seller wishes to advertise their home on a website that does not adhere to these data integrity standards, brokers may independently syndicate by establishing a RETS data feed with ACTRIS and working through their chosen vendor to disseminate that data.