Syndication: Here We Go

I’ve been traveling — planes, taxis, automobiles — and blogging has been difficult. And I’m typing this out in a hotel lobby before my next meeting, so it can’t be my typical overlong post. But I had to comment and ask questions about the latest salvo in the 2012 Syndication Wars.

I predicted in my 2012 Predictions post that listing syndication would be the big issue this year. Sure enough, events do not disappoint. You have probably seen this announcement by Jim Abbot of Abbot Realty Group by now:

And by now, you’ve seen some industry reactions. For example, this post by Tara Steele over at AgentGenius (they go by AGBeat these days?). Or you can check out Inman News reporting on the story (premium content).

I only have a couple of brief comments and a couple of questions about this.

First, this sort of move by brokerages was entirely predictable… but did it have to be a brokerage named ARG that opens up the salvo in 2012? I suspect many people will be making that sound in the coming months.

Second, given the number of times that Mr. Abbott talks about how valuable the listing information is, just how important it is as “intellectual property”, and talks about how major publicly traded companies like Zillow and could not survive without that intellectual property… am I the only non-REALTOR out there listening to that and wondering, “Hey, so all that information about my house is that valuable eh? Should I get any piece of all that valuable intellectual property action?”

Third, am I the only one that found it interesting that Mr. Abbott draws a fairly clear distinction between “our clients” and buyers? Of course, he does mention several times that if you’re looking to buy a house, that you should call Abbot Realty Group. But in a few moments, he makes it pretty clear that his clients are the home sellers, not necessarily the home buyers. This becomes relevant because…

The fourth, and most important point… actually, let’s make that a question. Listen to the message behind his outrage in the middle there (around the 4 minute mark). Listen to the substance of the complaint. Listen to him talk about irresponsible agents who don’t know the neighborhood, the development, sometimes steers the buyer into a property/area they do know, etc. The issue boils down to this critical phrase: “If you want honest, accurate information about a property, talk to the source.” Someone explain to me how that critical phrase does not apply with 100% force to IDX, please?

This is not the end of the syndication issue, and I’m out of time. So I’ll end this here, some 1800 words short of my average. But if you’d like, take a crack at answering that question, please. Inquiring minds wanna know.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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