IDX, Syndication, and Vindication: Oh, That Crazy Rob Hahn Edition


This is a brief post, since I just got off nearly three weeks straight of being on the road. The latest stop was at Stefan Swanepoel’s T3 Summit where I spoke on a panel and had a great time bantering with Brian Boero of 1000watt about hot topics in the industry. I may do a fuller review of the event and some of the issues raised, but… this post is almost 95% personal. 🙂

For the past few years, I’ve been arguing that there is no reasonable difference between syndication and IDX, and that the fervor against syndication must and will result in the death of IDX. I put it formally on “paper” (on this blog) in January of 2012 with my Seven Predictions for 2012 post when I named the Start of the End of IDX as one of the predictions.

As longtime readers know, the response from the industry has been… well… let’s say that it ranged from well-constructed arguments on why the two are different, to bemused dismissal, to “Oh, that crazy Rob Hahn!”

Here are a few examples of the more rational, well-constructed arguments:

Kris Berg:

“Both Rob Hahn and Jay Thompson pointed out that Internet Data Exchange (IDX) sites like yours, mine, and the sites of every brokerage in the country, are no different than the Troika sites. I don’t agree. The data accuracy issue becomes a relative non-issue where IDX is concerned save the MLS input errors. Even then, the MLS’s have procedures in place for policing and ultimately ensuring compliance. More importantly, IDX sites lack the resale component of the troika sites. While an inquiry on my listing may in fact go the agent-owner of another IDX site – and often does – consumers are generally clear on the fact that they are on a particular broker’s or agent’s site. And while some ambiguity may still exist where an IDX site is concerned, they are not simply trying to sell the customer to the highest bidder.”

Brian Larson:

Rob Hahn has said there is no meaningful difference between IDX and syndication and that he thinks brokers pulling out of syndication are a harbinger of IDX’s demise; but I think he’s dead wrong. I’ll try to make my point here in a post considerably shorter than one of Rob’s Notoriously long ones ;-) You can see Rob’s post claiming (erroneously, I think) the equivalence of IDX to syndication here; regarding the Austin “kerfuffle” as evidence of the impending demise of IDX here; and offering further comments about Austin and IDX here.

And we can go on, but in the interests of space, let’s curtail it. Suffice to say that for as long as I can remember, people have been pointing at various reasons why IDX != Syndication, and why the same people yelling about “My listings, my leads” when it comes to Zillow are as quiet as the grave when it comes to same listing on a website of an agent 75 miles away.

Well, on my MLS panel, Ken Jenny of tranCen, whose clients include some of the largest brokerages and national franchises, said many things from a very broker-centric perspective, and one of them was that brokers are starting to question IDX. I was sitting on the panel, so I didn’t write down his comments word for word, but to the best of my memory, Ken likened IDX to the practice of planting your yard sign on someone else’s listings, which “we would never allow in any other situation”.

I about fell out of my chair.

That argument, about yard signs on someone else’s listings, is exactly the same one made by people like Jim Abbott of ARG against syndication. It was one of the foundational reasons why I thought syndication = IDX, and that all the hoopla over Zillow would spill over into the thousands and thousands of broker and agent websites that rely on IDX to generate leads… off of someone else’s listings.

Look, Ken Jenny mentioned a lot of other issues, including bombs like “brokers are wondering about mandatory cooperation and compensation”, but I’m marking down April 9, 2015 as one Day of Vindication for yours truly. 🙂

I might be crazy. I might be a couple of years ahead of my time. Or both. To be fair, many of you were among the first to recognize the logic, so here’s a tip o’ the cap to you! #bestreadersintheindustry


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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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