A contrarian post popped up on Notorious Rob’s blog tonight. An agent who wanted to remain anonymous asked Rob to post his/her thoughts on the MIBOR issue for her/him. In a way, I understand the reasoning behind anonymity – the posts on Agent Genius and Active Rain have gotten a little tense at times. It also makes sense that the overwhelming number of comments on the internet would be in favor of agents marketing properties on the INTERNET. However, the agent is basically ignoring the role of buyers agents and is falling into a gate keeper mentality.

The agent’s main argument seems to be that the listing agent is the best person to represent the property-that agents with an indexable IDX have an unfair marketing advantage over the agent representing the seller. I have an indexable IDX feed on my Davis real estate site- individual listings show up in search engine results based on the overall strength of my site and not because I do anything specifically to get any single listing to appear. An agent who is even slightly net savvy could easily get the top result over an IDX listing from my local site or any of the national sites – so to argue this puts the listing agent at a disadvantage is not sound.

Let’s take this argument off-line for a minute – the number one way people still find a real estate agent is through some sort of referral. Yes, a growing number of people are finding agents on the internet, but in reality it is still a fairly small percentage. Couldn’t all the same arguments be made? The agent receiving the referral might be from the area but not located in the exact town- may not have as much specific knowledge about the property or neighborhood as the listing agent but they typically have one major advantage: They represent the BUYER.

Yes the internet makes the swimming pool larger – but so does reciprocal data sharing and cooperative agreements between local Realtor associations. The time when agents ONLY worked a single exclusive territory is as antiquated an idea as being a gate keeper of information – whether or not the internet exists these things are going to happen.

One thing that I think agents who are not actively involved online need to realize is no matter how a client comes to you – real estate is still is a people business. Whether you get an email address and phone number when someone registers to look at IDX listings or if they call you from a blog post or a sign post – it all comes down to how the agent interacts with the client.

I know things are done in different ways in various parts of the country, but here it is typically encouraged that the seller and buyer have their own representation – to make restrictions just so that non internet savvy agents have a better shot of selling their own listings is short sighted. As has been mentioned in many other posts – Trulia and Zillow are not subject to the same sort of requirements so the notion that the same non-tech agent site would somehow miraculously appear above these national sites is also not sound.

As as also been mentioned in a number of posts, consumers are searching for specific property information-if local sites are not allowed to have this information searchable in google, consumers will rely even more on national sites.

Remember, there are typically two agents involved in every transaction. Listing agents should welcome any opportunity that brings more buyers to their properties.

Related Reading

MIBOR resources

MIBOR and NAR hurting their membership

MIBOR not understanding Google Indexing

There is an ever growing number of posts on the MIBOR’s decision to block agent’s IDX feed from being indexed in search engines. I will keep adding to this list as new posts pop up or feel free to leave a link to other posts in the comments.

MIBOR needs a clue
Did Google scrape my website?
MIBOR and NAR have no grasp of internet technology and how it works!
FBS Blog
Cliff Niersbach NAR response to Google spidering listings in Mibor
ReTechulous – NAR blows
Is Google A Scraper site
If We Disconnected Every IDX Feed In Every City Across America, Would We have Your Complete Attention?
Online Home Search Technology Heading Back to the Ice Age if NAR / MIBOR Ruling Stands
NAR and MIBOR at odds with reality of what Google is.
How to scrape property listing data from realtor.com
A Local Board of Realtors® Just Gave More Power To Zillow, Trulia, etc., Over It’s Own Members?
Message Control and Social Media
Indianapolis Metropolitan Board of REALTORS®, (MIBOR) Rules Google is a “Scraper Site”
2920292 carmel
MIBOR and NAR hurting their membership
Was MIBOR’s ruling asinine
Free IDX from realtor.com
Does NAR think Google is an Enemy
Google Is A Scraper Site, Says National Association Of Realtors

MIBOR Blocks Change, NAR Committee Agrees- Politics Beats Agents In DC
Indianapolis Board of Realtors (MIBOR)
Ancient NAR & MIBOR Leaders Carve Out New Laws In Stone
An appeal to MIBOR – Indianapolis board of Realtors
Indianapolis Board of Realtors… Indexing is not Scraping

Newspapers and Realtors
I spoke too soon – MIBOR NAR IDX issue
Google is not a scraper
Indianapolis Board of Realtors – MIBOR
MIBOR – Real Estate Assoc.
Can’t we all just get along?
Is it ethical to let google spider MLS content on your real estate website
Google Threatens Real Estate Professionals. Or Does It?
MIBOR and NAR policies on IDX Feeds in regard to indexing by Google
I know there are more…I’ll keep adding to the list. Thinking I may put these into categories as well. I want this to be a real resource for this issue.

Is MIBOR working against local brokers?

The local board of Realtors in Indianapolis MIBOR has decided that individual listings from an agent’s or broker’s IDX feed should not be allowed to be indexed in any search engine. They reason when a Google (or other search engine) result comes up for a specific address or MLS# this violates IDX regulations that specify how listings are supposed to be advertised as the full result is not shown in the SERP (search engine results). Often some of the required information is missing.

MIBOR has classified search engines, Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. as scraper sites. Scraper sites are typically viewed as 3rd party websites that without the express permission of the original website owner pulls the information (anything from a brief summary to a complete copy) and places it on their own website. The scraper site then tries to draw traffic for the terms of the information that they pulled – often these sites are full of google adwords or other forms of advertising hoping the visitor will click on an advertisement and make the site owner some money.

Is Google a scraper site?

Morgan Carey, CEO of Real Estate Webmasters and IDX vendor of the Indianapolis sites affected shared his communitcation with Cliff Niersbach of NAR that spanned a number of email exchanges. MIBOR passed the responsiblity of their ruling onto NAR for clarification. Mr. Niersbach states:

The CRT [Center for Real Estate Technology - a department of NAR] advises that “indexing” is a form of scraping.

Morgan, a world renowed SEO expert with an excellent understanding of how search engines operate states:

Google is NOT a scraper site, rather a technology (just like a browser) with a significant user base with which the public access websites. Google simply tells the user where to go – they are not creating web pages of their own out of the data they index.

Currently there are over 100 comments on Agent Genius over this issue. One of the main issues is that if agent and broker sites are not allowed to have IDX listings indexed then the only sites left will be truly scraper sites, national sites that do not get IDX feeds (like Trulia and Zillow) and Realtor.com which is not subject to local or even NAR regulations in how they display listings.

The MIBOR and NAR decision hurts local sites and as Joe Lane wrote: A Local Board of Realtors® Just Gave More Power To Zillow, Trulia, etc., Over It’s Own Members? This decision will benefit the national sites – real estate is local – local MLS boards and committees should be working to help their own membership and not help give national sites a competitive advantage.

I personally know the broker involved with this issue Mike Taylor, he runs an excellent Indianapolis Real Estate site. While this is still a local issue, it has the potential to spread to other MLS boards and committes across the country.

Hilary Marsh of NAR commented on the Agent genius post:

If you would like to propose a change to the policy, send your suggestion to the MLS Issues & Policies Committee in care of Cliff — cniersbach@realtors.org.

Thanks much,

Hilary Marsh
Managing Director, REALTOR.org

Anyone who has an IDX that indexes individual listings needs to get involved in this before other local boards follow in a similar direction.

Related reading:
MIBOR resources
MIBOR needs a clue

A connection between real estate and The Swine Flu? Perhaps you think that’s too much of a stretch (maybe it is). Perhaps, even though it feels like every media outlet is screaming SWINE FLU, you can’t quite figure out what in the world that has to do with real estate. But I’m already seeing a connection…

And It Happened Today…

Today I had an appointment to meet with some clients at a house that had just come on the market. We both pulled up to the house at the same time and, as we walked toward the house, I approached them to deliver some papers that I had promised to provide. I started to explain what I had brought, but was immediately interrupted.

“I’m sorry,” my client said. “But I have a very scratchy throat and perhaps you don’t want to be around me.” His wife also chimed in, explaining that they had just had a discussion in the car and wondered if I would fear contact with them. I made a joke about Swine Flu and assured them that I’d wash my hands as soon as we separated.

My client is a physician, who works in a world renowned medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland. His concern was real…as is the epidemic (pandemic?) that is sweeping the world. I know that people have already died, and predictions are that more will follow. So if the predictions and concerns that already feel a little overblown, continue to escalate…could we see the effect of the swine flu hit the world of real estate?

The Effects of Increasing Media Attention?

As the headlines increase, so will the paranoia (at least for some). Could it be possible that people will begin fearing contact with others in public places — including events like Sunday Open Houses?  Potential buyers may even want to stay away from visiting other peoples’ homes until this medical emergency subsides?

Swine Flu + Uncertainty?

In a time of uncertainty, another unsettling, uncontrollable event just adds to our sense of vulnerability. And when people feel vulnerable, we already know they’re not as inclined to buy houses.

So What do you think?  Will real estate feel the effects of The Swine Flu?

Contributor – Gretchen Koitz – Principal of The Koitz Group and mother of more frequent contributor Kevin Koitz! Gretchen specializes in Washington DC luxury real estate and surrounding close-in Montgomery County Maryland areas. Visit her Bethesda Maryland real estate guide or her Georgetown real estate page for a more information about the DC Metro Area.

OK I’ve been slacking here lately. Been spending a lot of time on my bike because it will soon be too hot and I won’t want to ride. The weather’s been perfect for 20-30 mile rides in the afternoon. Whether or not I should be spending this much time away from work in the middle of the day – well let’s not debate that right now.

Today it is cloudy and raining a little so the urge to go outside isn’t there so instead I’m back to dreaming of sandy beaches. It doesn’t help that I listened to Brasilian Bossa Nova music for much of last night. Tropical music makes me think of long sections of warm water, something we don’t have in Northern California, or sitting out on a deck watching the waves hit the white sandy shore.

While Sacramento isn’t THAT huge a city – it definitely has that feel – there are quite a few new luxury condo developments going into Sacramento’s downtown but these have that distinctive urban feel and don’t give the same sense of relaxation that condos at the beach give. I think if money were no object, I’d buy Cal that Lamborghini and make him buy me a condo at Fort Morgan beach OK I would come out better with that deal – so maybe I would just buy the condo myself. The new development Kiva Village sure looks nice on a cloudy day from here.

Seems like it would be a great to spend a day at the beach and fly a kite. Don’t believe me, watch the video.

YouTube Preview Image

Looking at my blog it’s been focused a lot lately at the Sulumits retsambew SEO contest and also on real estate webmasters.   I’m working on some real estate related posts that will be up soon.

Want to look for some local real estate?  How about visiting these pages on Discover Davis Homes:

Davis homes

Sacramento homes

Still quite surprised that I’m on the first page for the sulumits retsambew SEO contest.  Been on page 1 in google for over a week.  I’m currently ranked #9 for the term.

I’m actually involved in two contests right now – the second is a referral contest at Real Estate Webmasters.  If you are an SEO reading this you really should consider visiting the REW forum.  There are some really great SEO discussions there – real estate tends to be a competitive niche – but no matter what your interests are there is some solid information.

The REW forum is where I met Cal and a lot of other great real estate webmasters.  Cal is the one who got me into this  SEO contest

Sulumits Retsambew

Here’s another video – want to learn some new dance moves?

YouTube Preview Image

Real Estate Webmasters – the awesome company who created my real estate site(s)  is celebrating their five year birthday today.  I have always felt I found the REW forum by accident – I had spent many years on the appraisersforum.com (primarily lurking because I was always a staff appraiser) but when I changed my focus to real estate sales I wanted to find a similar community.  The honest truth is I did a google search for real estate forum and one of the top results was the REW forum.

real estate webmasters

I really did not understand a lot of the discussions about webmastering but I understood the people there were successful in getting real estate business from the internet so I  kept coming back to the forum.  Eventually the discussions started to make sense.

Most people get a REW site because they are known for being very SEO friendly, my main reason was because I wanted to find an IDX solution that would easily break up Davis listings into areas.  However, I soon learned that my IDX does so much more.

REW is having a special five day birthday promotion.  If you have been thinking about getting a REW site, now may be a good time.

Get more information on Real Estate Webmasters and if you decide to join the forum, remember to mention that I sent you…

Real quick because I need to leave for a bike ride.  Matt Cutts tweeted last night about a script that alters the way Twitter looks on the web.  I am a big fan of Tweetdeck but I also use the web interface a lot with Twitter.  Some of the advantages of using Tweetdeck include RT or retweet button, groups, auto-update and this firefox extension does not solve all of those issues but is a start.

Troys Twitter Script adds the RT button, nests in conversations, shows friends conversations (even if you are not following their friends), expands urls and images into the feed.

Here is a short example from my profile page: Davis CA Real Estate


Yeah sorry about the highlight – guess I’m always looking at the no-follows.  The conversation is there now  on my profile page – anyone with this firefox extension can see who I was talking to and follow the conversation even if they aren’t following the same people.  This works the same way on the home page as well.

I think this extension is going to work best for people who are following a manageable number of people (for me that number seems to be about 100).  The twitter stream goes by too quickly in my opinion for this to work with several hundred friends.  There is also still no way to group people, so would not likely work with large following counts.

I have interests in a few different areas so with this script I can keep an eye on more things and people without actually adding them.  It’s not that I don’t want to add more people, just don’t really find it necessary to add people I don’t have a connection with.  This script could actually help build connections with people because they will see more of the conversation and really might be a way to jump into more conversations.  One thing though to keep in mind, the cryptic nature of Twitter also has meant you could send subtle “hints” to friends without too much worry that other people would catch on – at least I do – with conversations nested – more people can follow those conversations as well.  It really is no different if someone uses http://search.twitter.com however someone has to type in your username or topic etc. to see that conversation.

Here is the Beer Planet post that Matt Cutts linked to on Twitter : Twitter.com Autocomplete it has a more detailed review of the script.  Read that if you are still not convinced this script will help you.  Have to run, having some pancakes before the bike ride.