You throw your hands up in frustration as you get off the phone with yet another friend who just got a fantastic home under contract and set merrily about the business of gloating to anyone who will pick up the phone. “Where the heck did they find THAT house?!?!!?” You too have been looking, and checking all of the biggest web portals for current listings, and busily hitting the refresh button on the browser to make sure you catch them as they go live.
So why are you missing the boat?
The secret is in the hidden logistics of MLS content syndication, and a phenomenon called the “propagation period”. Candidly, this is not something the average agent, or the average person in general would ever have any reason to know about or have the barest inkling of understanding. The only reason I can pass along this interesting bit of trivia is because in a past life I worked as the Director of Sales at a Website Hosting Company where I saw all of the behind the scenes tech up close and personal. So what is “propagation” and what does it have to do with your friends ability to beat you to the punch on great listings? A simple analogy would be that they are dipping their water upstream of the well.
“HUH?” You say with unrivaled sophistication… Hold your horses. All will be made clear.
You see, when it comes down to it, 95% of the content for ALL of the Real Estate portals (Zillow, Realtor, Trulia, Homes.com, etc) all come from THE SAME SOURCE!!! That’s right..they dip from the same well. That well is the local MLS or multiple listing service which gets it’s content directly from all of the broker members…which is MOST of them. Nearly ALL of them. “But if it’s the same source, why do they appear to have different houses? Why don’t they match up?”
THAT is where “propagation comes in. You see the MLS can’t “push” content to anyone. It simply makes the content available for “pickup”. Those content providers each have their own pickup/update schedules that are set based on their technical capabilities and business objectives. One provider might refresh content every 2 hours, one every weeks, one every 15 min. Their lists “appear” to be different because of the difference in update frequency. Someone who is updating every 15 min will have a much smaller list, but it will be about as accurate as you can get. Someone updating every 2 weeks will “appear” to have many more properties because they are hanging on to old data longer. SOME vendors even differentiate between new and old. In other words, they update the “NEW” content every 15 min, but hang on to the “OLD” (off market) for significantly longer, all to create the appearance of having the most homes to look at. Neat huh?
So how is your friend ‘scooping’ you?
Well…short of cruising neighborhoods looking for sold signs that go up before the data hits the wires, the most obvious way to beat everyone to the hot new listings, is to get your data straight from the MLS. In that case, you have ZERO lag. You get it the moment the content is released. You have it the same time that the agents do. We have witnessed as much as a 72 hour lag in the content making it out to the rest of the websites so if you’re waiting for those, it’s no WONDER you’re showing up late to the party.
So what’s the take away?
The big portals are simply re-packaging data you can get from the source by working with an agent. If you’re wondering why agents allow this to take place , the short answer is that the MLS (who sells us memberships) is selling that data to the content re-packagers…so they can in turn, sell advertising to the agents thereby effectively charging us twice for access to data that WE provide THEM. Neat…huh? If you ever wonder why it costs so much to sell a house, now you have somewhere to point the finger. Now THAT’s capitalism baby. But I digress……
The point of this entire episode is to let you know that the quickest path to the door of your new home is to partner with an agent and go MLS direct. The other sites are simply using smoke and mirrors to create the “appearance” of value without actual substance, and costing you time and ultimately a LOT of money in the process.
Want to go MLS direct? Contact us today and we’ll tell you how to do it!