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Listings Aren’t Airline Tickets

August 12, 2008

Joe Ferrara asks whether listings are like airline tickets in his post about American Airlines pulling its ticket listings from Kayak:

Are home listings like airline tickets to be freely given by listing brokers and agents to any and all third party listing sites? Do listing brokers have any reason to complain so long as they get exposure of home listings to consumers and a link to their websites?

My take is that home listings are completely unlike airline ticket listings for one very important reason: the listing broker does not own the underlying property.

For American Airlines, who provides the actual service of transportation, to get pissy with Kayak is its decision.  If the decision to pull its ticket listings from Kayak results in fewer sales of American’s seats, that only affects American Airlines and its shareholders.

In contrast, a listing broker who pulls listings from TruZillia or some other online aggregator has to answer to the ultimate client: the home seller who has engaged the listing broker to represent his property.  If pulling listings results in fewer leads and fewer inquiries and therefore a lower sale price than might have been possible, I’m 99.99% certain that any court anywhere in the United States would be finding for the homeseller plaintiff against his “fiduciary” broker.

I note that there is a difference between failing to list on some website (which could theoretically be justified as there are a plethora of websites out there, and the broker might not have heard of XYZ listing aggregator) and pulling listings off of a site.  I would think that the broker would have to show that the listing aggregator was 100% ineffective at generating additional leads, so that pulling listings from it had no impact whatsoever on the exposure (and ultimately the offer) that his client received on his house.  And how in the world do you show that?

In short, pull listings off of aggregators at your own peril, brokers.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2008 12:12 am

    Yes, bottom line protection lies in a contract with the seller, setting forth the marketing plan, with certain discretion to broker– you can’t run an ad in the NY Times indefinitely.

    You can track traffic from Truzillias but ROI is lacking.

  2. August 21, 2008 1:39 am

    There will always be plaintiffs and lawyers litigating for various reasons. I can not say any lawsuit over which websites a listing was posted on should not occur. I can say that any lawsuit brought for those reasons is without merit. It would have be based on the (erroneous) premise that inquiries from those various sites actually directly helped or caused a home to sell.

    The top national site for traffic is I currently pay about $4,000 a year to “enhance” my listings. There was a time that every 20 leads from equaled a closed escrow on *a* home. Seldom the one they inquired about. Now, the *only* reason I am on is to be able to say to our sellers that “we feature your home on”. That is the ONLY reason. In the past four years, I have never sold a listing because it was on, Trulia, Zillow or any of the other sites. I have sold homes to buyers because we received an email lead because we have a lot of listings on those sites. Big difference.

    If you are wanting buyer leads those sites may or may not be good. If you want to “impress” you sellers, they can be very good. If you want to actually sell that house I don’t see that they make *any* difference.

  3. August 21, 2008 9:19 am

    Wow, Russell — your comments are amazing. The implications are staggering. Thank you for them — I will be posting on these soon.


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