Updated: Major Franchises Make a Big Move With Move

Jan 11, 2012 Michael Wurzer

Readers of the FBS Blog may recall the controversy at the last few NAR meetings over franchises using IDX listings on their franchise portal web sits. First NAR voted to allow franchises the use IDX listings and then said they couldn’t. In saying they couldn’t, the recommendation was that franchise sites should be treated the same as any other listing portal (e.g., Zillow, Trulia, etc.) and receive data via syndication.

In response, several of the largest real estate franchises (C21, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, Realty Executives) recently announced a major new initiative with Move, Inc. and its Listhub syndication subsidiary to streamline that syndication. The new syndication network is called the Real Estate Network (REN) and is described as follows in the press release:

With the launch of REN, the 376 MLSs and 43,000 brokerage firms currently distributing listings through ListHub may now choose to send their listings to one or more sites within the network with one easy click. Participating brokers and MLSs retain full control over where their listings are and are not syndicated to within the network. One set of standardized, industry-friendly rules will govern the display of listings on publisher websites in the network, and can be found at: http://www.listhub.net/networkrules.html. Franchisors themselves will also participate in the network, displaying each other’s listing inventory on their websites.

I’m still processing what this new syndication network means for MLSs but I think two key points are made in the last two sentences in the quote above.

Starting with the last first, it sounds like the network will facilitate direct franchise to franchise syndication, bypassing the MLS. That seems pretty significant.

Update: I chatted with Rob Reed from Listhub at Inman Connect and he said there is no franchise-franchise syndication, rather the syndicated data is coming from the MLS systems and each franchise site is another syndication destination from the MLS according to the discretion of the listing broker.

Second, the rules are now being established by the license agreements that are part of this syndication network, not NAR and not the MLS. That, too, seems pretty significant.

The billion dollar question, of course, is whether the initiative already has or will achieve critical mass of participation from additional franchises and independent brokerages.

Victor Lund over at the WAV Group blog has some great quotes of various reactions to this new initiative. I’m interested to hear your reaction to this new initiative. Please comment below.