Jane Buyer is taking a detour through her favorite neighborhood in San Diego on the way to the mall. She sees a “for sale” sign on a home that she hadn’t seen on the market last week.
She notices the fresh dirt in the ground around a real estate yard sign. It’s a brand new listing. There isn’t even a flyer box on the signpost yet.
Jane whips out her smartphone, opens her Zillow app, types in the address, refreshes her GPS location and … nothing comes up: no sales price, no sales details — nada. Imagine Jane’s frustration with her mobile application.
Today, this is just about the worst thing that can happen to potential buyers. They drive by a listing and see the yard sign, but their app says the home isn’t for sale.
Or worse, they see a “sold” sign on a listing that shows “available” on their mobile app. The yard sign says one thing; their Zillow app says something else: Is the home for sale, sold or not? People dislike it when technology wastes their time.
Smartphones with GPS allow consumers to validate the efficacy of listing data. This is a relatively new phenomenon that is empowering consumers to use the right tools for their mobile search and abandon mobile apps with stale or incomplete information. It seldom happens on traditional web searches.
Control of listing data
The U.S. real estate industry is putting the value of mobile search at risk by embarking on incomplete strategies such as Upstream and the Broker Public Portal that (so far) fail to address the requirement of a complete database to service the largest growth category in real estate: the mobile consumer.
Today, only IDX provides nearly all of the listings that assure the consumer experience on their smartphone won’t erode trust. It appears that the efforts mentioned above have a desire to eliminate IDX (as we know it), yet they don’t have a solution to replace it.
Let’s hope that the industry’s desire to control the ownership of listing data doesn’t trump the consumer’s mobile experience. That would be the equivalent to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The death of syndicated mobile search
Syndicated data is a godsend to franchise brands that rely on it. It’s great for pulling in high-resolution photos for virtual tours and other non-IDX tools. But mobile search requires the full inventory of listings, and that’s something syndication can’t provide, but IDX can.
As a rule of thumb, syndication is a great way to market your own listings. IDX is the tool to market all (or substantially all) of a market’s listings.
The entire premise behind IDX was to support broker reciprocity: You show my listing, I’ll show yours. In the end, you win, I win — and, most importantly, our clients win.
And it worked. The most complete, updated listing data available to consumers came from, and still comes from, reciprocity.
Syndicated data mobile application providers expose a weakness in their listing data that is quickly revealed to anyone driving a neighborhood.
If a syndicated data feed includes less than 80 percent of the available inventory, your potential buyers will become immediately aware of more available inventory than their app provides as they drive neighborhoods.
Many will make the choice to abandon their current mobile application for a better solution with better listing data. Ultimately, buyers will choose a solution that is more complete, updated and accurate.
Yes, “real MLS data” (IDX) is different than what you find on Zillow and other portals. Just ask Jane, the buyer. Let’s stop wasting her time with inaccurate and stale listing data. Jane’s time is valuable, too.
Randall Standard is CEO of VoicePad and a 20+ year veteran of the mobile phone industry. Founded, developed, commercialized and funded by Standard, VoicePad is the company that speech enables and fully mobilizes real estate MLS databases in some 300 US markets, providing mobile lead capture and incubation through a fully automated lead management platform that includes call capture, text and mobile Web.
Email Randall Standard.