By Peter Ricci
Online listing syndication is one of the more controversial elements of the new real estate market, with real estate professionals of numerous backgrounds speaking out against the business methods of Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. Now, however, that opposition has become organized.
The National Association of Real Estate Professionals (NAREP) is a newly-formed real estate trade association composed of disgruntled agents who, through mass action, intend to make a considerable dent in the business of the syndication sites.
NAREP – Combating “Syndication Abuse”
The purpose of NAREP (not to be confused with the National Association of Real Estate Publishers) is to end “listing syndication abuse” and confront the shady business models of the syndication websites by forming an independent, non-profit listing site of its own. As co-founder Ben Caballero told us, there are a number of steps to NAREP’s plan:
- NAREP is now seeking members for its association through a sign-up page on its website.
- Once enough agents join the association, and its membership represents 25 percent of all real estate listings nationwide, it will coordinate with its members to stop listing their properties on all non-MLS syndication sites.
- NAREP’s listing website will utilize data exclusively from local MLS databases with IDX technology similar to that used by RealEstate.com, Caballero explained, with the end result being what he called a “national IDX website” that is licensed in every state and has access to local MLS databases.
- Rather than charge agents to include their contact information near listings (as syndication sites notoriously have), the NAREP site will prominently feature the information of the property’s listing agent next to all listings for free.
- Also, Caballero said that because NAREP will be a lean, non-profit operation, it will carry none of the expansive overhead of Zillow or Trulia, and as such, the only fee it will charge will be a small nominal fee when the agent’s property sells (probably in the $15 to $20 range).
All of NAREP’s efforts, Caballero said, go towards reversing the “gradual creeping” of syndication sites into the real estate sector, businesses that are not licensed and not beholden to the many professional and ethical standards that govern modern real estate.
And Caballero and NAREP do cite data to back up their statements – according to a study by The WAV Group (and sponsored by Redfin), 36 percent of the active listings on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale, whereas local real estate brokerage sites were nearly flawless in their presentation of the properties for sale.
Caballero – “Incremental” Growth for NAREP
NAREP just launched last week, Caballero said, so the association is still very much in an exploratory phase, as far as governor boards or any volunteer positions are concerned, and he is personally covering all of the association’s expenses.
Though he anticipates NAREP’s growth to be “incremental,” he is reaching out to a number of influential real estate professionals and brokerages that share the association’s skepticism of syndication, including Jim Abbot of Abbot Realty Group, whose video denouncing Zillow and Trulia went viral early this year. In addition, Caballero said he will be contacting Edina Realty of Minneapolis and Prudential Kansas City, two other brokerages that pulled their listings from Zillow and Trulia.
“It may not go anywhere,” he said, referring to NAREP’s future. “But all of my expectations are being met at this time.”