Portal tweaks aimed at winning hearts of listing brokers, agents

In early March, realtor.com began prominently displaying the names of listing brokers and agents on the property detail pages of all their listings — whether they pay to advertise themselves on the site or not.

The portal began noting listing and brokers up high on mobile last year, but the prominent placement on desktop is new. The tweak will appeal to brokerages and agents who were irked that their names were buried at the bottom of their listings on the desktop version of realtor.com unless they paid to enhance them.

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Listing brokers and agents now get prominent attribution on all their listings on realtor.com (left). When it has the info, Zillow Group prominently displays listing agents on all their listings on both Zillow and Trulia. Click image to enlarge.

Realtor.com’s unannounced change to listing agent and listing broker display on the site is part of the fluid, iterative changes both Zillow Group and News Corp., the new owner of realtor.com operator Move Inc., are rolling out to their portals.

The changes, like the one featured in this story, are frequent, subtle and often unannounced, but they’re important to agents, brokers and multiple listing services who must decide if and how they want to market their listings with the operators of the three most powerful and popular websites in real estate.

Now the three portals have consistent listing broker and agent attribution on both desktop and mobile for “unenhanced” listings. Realtor.com places listing agent and broker attribution “above the fold” on both platforms, meaning that consumers don’t have to scroll to see the names of the listing brokers and agents.

On Zillow and Trulia, listing agents get prominent attribution on the desktop versions of the sites, but share it with three other agents who pay to advertise. On mobile, consumers have to scroll to the bottom of the screen, or click a prominent “Contact” button to see the list of agents on both sites.

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Zillow (left) provides links, branding and contact info to listing brokers for free, but includes that toward the bottom of the page on desktop and mobile. Realtor.com gives the name of listing broker and agent high up on desktop and mobile, but doesn’t include links or branding for free and only includes broker contact info toward the bottom of the page (right). Click image to enlarge.

As for brokerage attribution, Trulia notes the listing broker “below the fold” on both desktop and mobile. Zillow notes the listing broker at the bottom of the page on both platforms.

How realtor.com and Zillow Group measure up

Listing detail page attributes on nonenhanced listings sourced from a direct broker or MLS feed Zillow Trulia realtor.com
Listing agent displayed high on page Yes Yes Yes
Charge listing agents for leads off listings? No No Yes*
Broker info shown “above the fold” on desktop or mobile No No** Yes
Free link to broker site? Yes Yes No
Displays automatic home valuation estimates on for-sale listings Yes No No

Sources: Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com. * Agents or brokerages can pay to receive leads from realtor.com listings with the Showcase Listing Enhancements program. ** Listing agent and broker are listed just below the fold on desktop and mobile, higher than on Zillow, lower than on realtor.com.

Realtor.com’s new feature is one step in the intense dance between Move and Zillow Group as they look to win industry hearts and minds. The group that wins the loyalty, trust and, most importantly, the listings of the industry, will likely win the portal dance-off.

Thanks to its exclusive relationship with the National Association of Realtors, which give it a direct feed from over 800 MLSs, realtor.com is the legacy winner. But Zillow Group is charging hard and asking multiple listing services, brokers and agents to compare the two companies on the two companies’ merits alone.

How the dance plays out and what perks the two real estate giants throw out in an effort to woo MLSs, brokers and agents could shape the future of online real estate, so we’re keeping a close eye on it.

Zillow Group is scrambling to secure listings directly from multiple listing services and brokerages for Zillow and Trulia, before the contracts both portals had with listing syndication platform ListHub, expire on April 7.

The way listings display — how much “listing love” brokers get from the portals — is part of the calculus brokers and agents use to decide if they want to send, or continue sending, their listings to them.

For example, the large Mid-South brokerage Crye-Leike Realtors has pulled its listings from Zillow and Trulia in a handful of markets, including Memphis, Tennessee, based in part on how the portals attribute its listings to itself and its agents.

The firm is currently evaluating realtor.com, but will delay making a decision about whether to continue sending its listings to it until it’s clearer how its new owner, News Corp., shapes it, Crye-Leike Executive Vice President Steve Brown told Inman.

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The above-the-fold view of the same listing from realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia’s iPhone mobile apps.

Email Paul Hagey.

Inman