Consumers who have been searching for homes have been discovering something new and different when they do an address search on Google. They are suddenly swamped with web pages which amount to “listing sheets” of each address the punch into the search engine. The result is the mess seen on the right. A long list of web pages for a single address.
At first this might seem like real estate heaven for buyers and sellers a like. However, the number of these sites have been propagating like bunnies and the elation turns to confusion when the consumer picks up the phone to call the agent who listed the home.
You see, these listings are being sponsored by agents and brokerages that for the most part have nothing to do with the listing. Some may have no idea about the listing whatsoever. They engaged a service that covers several counties, and know nothing about the home in question. In fact their working territory might be 30-50 miles away or more – but they are eager to help the buyer or seller with their real estate needs no matter how little they know about the area.
Now if you look very, very carefully – you can indeed find the listing agent. Just look for the only 8 point gray colored font on the page and you probably have located the listing information.
Confused yet – you should be. A little history will help consumers to understand what is going on here: On my site – as well as many other agent websites – you can sign up to “search for homes.” These sites are up-to-date and derived from the broker’s version of the MLS – but it is not in fact THE MLS. The public never truly sees the broker/agent version of THE MLS; they see a public facing version of the same. It is up-to-date, but has restrictions and is not 100% complete. These sites are referred to in the industry as “IDX” sites – for “internet data exchange.”
People who land on my site can sign up for IDX access any time they wish. I am giving them a feed that is derived from the MLS. So consumers on my site recognize that although I let them view all the listings in the county – they aren’t all MY listings! If they were I’d be having a coronary trying to keep track of the thousands of homes I was lucky enough to list county-wide.
Here is where it gets tricky. The pages indexed to Google are the exact same thing. They agent has subscribed to a site that takes each and every listing that most consumers sign up for – and has indexed each listing as a separate web page to Google. But here is where it gets deceptive. Since its on Google as its own separate web page and has the agents face, name, number, email and other information – it LOOKS like that agent’s LISTING. And here is where I feel a line has been crossed that should not be. This is deliberately deceptive and confusing to the public.
In the interest of full disclosure – I do have an axe to grind here. As a listing agent nothing makes me madder than someone taking my photos, my descriptions, my video links and my marketing and using them to promote themselves. If I just slapped up the listing and put no effort into the process I probably wouldn’t mind…but I spend HOURS on proper presentation, taking hundreds of shots to pick the best ones. The photos are edited and tweaked and submitted after hours of work. The same is true for my video feeds. The fact that another agent displays it as their own infuriates me.
Objectively, from the consumer’s standpoint – the trend to bypass a buyer’s agent and go directly to the “source” is not a good one. Representation is a tricky topic – and one for another blog – but a buyer going directly to a listing agent can be problematic to the buyer. The notion that a buyer can save significant money going direct to the listing agent is a fallacy. So having a different face and name for buyer’s to call is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are several disturbing issues:
The question from the consumer’s standpoint remains – does the mess you see at the right make ANY SENSE for the consumer…seriously.
As these sites propagate like bunnies – their usefulness to the agent is diminished with every single new subscriber. Given that the first two pages of Google now look like nothing but a string of listings for the same property, the ability of these sites to draw in buyers and sellers is already on its way downhill. This form of marketing my be a victim of its own success in fairly short order.
© 2010 Ruthmarie G. Hicks – https://thewestchesterview.com – Why are Google searches for listing addresses so confusing?
Please feel free to contact me anytime to request additional information or to set up an appointment so we can explore your listing or purchasing needs. I am easy to reach by phone, text or email. Or, if you just want to continue your search online, the links below will help you get started.