Realtor.com pushes traffic to Google

Surely not intentionally, but that is what they are doing with the following, received in my ever-crowded inbox:

Dear Valued Customer,

In order to be of assistance in your budgeting process, we would like to inform you with as much advance notice as possible about our January 15, 2007 price change. We do not take lightly the impact any price increase (like any product or service any person buys) has on you, our customer. In order to continue to advertise all basic listings for free, not charge referral fees, and to purchase traffic for REALTOR.com®, it is necessary to have a source for generating revenue and thus remain competitive, and allow REALTOR.com® to remain in business. That said, we firmly believe that the value rendered by REALTOR.com® Marketing Systems are monumentally greater than the price charged to REALTORS®.

That they would even mention “not charging referral fees” – that the thought of selling leads back to the providers of the data/content is simply onerous.

Just as REALTOR.com® carefully evaluates a number of factors before arriving at the aforementioned business decision to raise prices, so too do we encourage each individual REALTOR® to carefully evaluate the value you receive on behalf of you and your clients in relationship to the costs, before you make your individual business decision. It is for this reason that we eliminated automatic renewals so that only those REALTORS®, who carefully contemplated the value of utilizing REALTOR.com® beyond its basic free program, would be the ones who renewed their respective REALTOR.com® Marketing Systems and products. In order to carefully contemplate REALTOR.com® value, we are providing a minimum of two months to a maximum of twelve months advance notice of the price change (depending upon the REALTOR’S® product renewal date), because we believe this should be a carefully thought out evaluation. It is a privilege to serve those of you who seek to provide even greater value for your current and prospective clients.

At least they want us to be careful. Google is fast becoming a “no-brainer,” but one must “carefully consider” using Realtor.com.

Details of the price increase: Beginning January 15, 2007, prices for the Showcase Listing Enhancements Marketing System, Standard Listing Enhancements, Featured Homes™ Marketing System and Featured CMA™ Marketing System will increase by 10% and the Featured Community™ and Featured Agent™ Marketing System will increase by 7%. Your agreement will be unaffected until the date of your agreement renewal. The price you paid or are paying monthly, will not change until expiration of your current agreement.

If you have any questions that require immediate attention on these upcoming changes, we encourage you to contact your Account Executive by calling 800-878-4166. And again, on behalf of everyone here at REALTOR.com®, we thank you for the privilege of serving you and helping you better serve your clients.

Sincerely,

Mark Mathis
Senior Vice President,
REALTOR.com®

Realtor.com’s cushy arrangement with getting all (or most) of Realtors’ listing data is swiftly coming to an endRealtor.com is a listing tool that I use to sell to my potential seller clients, because the perception is that their home has to be on Realtor.com. That is no longer the case. What happens when Realtor organizations start pulling their property data feeds? Hmmm .. given the option of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to have my sellers’ properties marketed on Realtor.com, or list them on Google for free

To the consumers, curious, potential home buyers or sellers – would you rather go to Realtor.com or Google if you were searching for your new home in Charlottesville?

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7 Comments

  1. Karen Rhodes November 16, 2006 at 22:00

    R.com is worthless. And how dare they state “It is a privilege to serve those of you who seek to provide even greater value for your current and prospective clients”!!!! None of my clients or customers have ever received less value or service because I choose not to throw money away on R.com when it can be more wisely spent elsewhere with a greater opportunity for finding the right buyer. Of course, I expected nothing more from them.

  2. TrvlnMn November 16, 2006 at 22:56

    To the consumers, curious, potential home buyers or sellers – would you rather go to Realtor.com or Google if you were searching for your new home in Charlottesville?

    I don’t know anything about the Google version of Realtor.com. So when I’m browsing real estate I generally head to Realtor.com. I guess if I knew more about the Google variant I’d go there instead. But I don’t think it can be found from the “More Google Products” section of their page.

    The local variations of Realtor.com are too full of bugs and not user friendly.

    I can certianly understand an MLS not providing their feed to realtor.com. That would be like asking a talent agent to tell you who is going to be casting for what project and when. Since that sort of information is their work product, and thus the only edge they have as a talent agent.

  3. Athol Kay November 17, 2006 at 02:11

    I agree, and wow Realtor.com is running scared. Though to me the real Jump The Shark moment is;

    “and to purchase traffic for Realtor.com”

    Thats such a damning statement. You either have content and sell ads, or need leads and buy them. Trouble with a captial T.

  4. EndTable20 November 20, 2006 at 16:18

    I wouldn’t be so concerned about the “not charging referral fees” mention. It’s no different from banks advertising their lack of per-check charges, or a food product advertising its lack of added sugar, to distinguish themselves from competitors who do use such elements.

    The “purchase traffic for Realtor.com” bit does concern me a bit though. Why does Realtor.com need to purchase traffic?

  5. Jim Duncan November 21, 2006 at 11:47

    re: purchasing traffic – you didn’t think that MSN, AOL, et. al. showed Realtor.com’s listings just because they liked them, did you? 🙂 Realtor.com pays millions of dollars to have their listings shown all over the web.

  6. jf.sellsius November 21, 2006 at 16:40

    Most consumers know to visit realtor.com. Of course, consumers do not just go to one site. But realtor.com could do a better job for NAR members whose listings stock their shelves and make them relevant.

  7. Jim Duncan November 22, 2006 at 08:21

    Many consumers are also surprised that not all listings are in the MLS.