One of the principle concepts under the Technology and Data sections of ORE – Map of the Future is that Realtor.ca should be improved to be more responsive to member and market needs. In fact, the ORE paper says, one of the potential benefits is that we may be able to generate revenue. Realtor.ca is primarily an advertising vehicle designed to generate leads for Realtors and like MLS, the strength of this site is its exclusivity as we have all or most of the MLS listed property on that site. Realtor.ca has also been very successful because the listing data is verified and regulated to be accurate. Integrity of data is very important to consumers and Realtors alike. Therefore as I asked CREA in my position paper, if Realtor.ca is currently the “go to” site, the most visited site for real estate in Canada, then why would we want to give this data to our third-party competitors through the Data Distribution Facility (DDF)?
CREA’s position is that DDF controls the accuracy of data on third-party sites (as well as control what they do with that data) and brokers or Realtors can choose to opt out of providing the data under DDF.
Does CREA assume that because the third-party organizations sign agreements with them, that alone will stop Realtors from sending listing data to the site anyway? Some Realtors will continue to send the data directly because they want a different presentation than the DDF will give them, so how does CREA stop that? How does CREA stop or control Realtors from sending their listings to the thousands of third-party sites (like Kijiji) that refused to sign agreements with CREA? Clearly DDF will not solve the control issue at all.
Frankly I believe that Realtors who like to send their listing data to third-party sites and who are annoyed by the responsibility of maintaining that data has influenced CREA to send this data for them and therefore save them a great amount of time. Bravo, but how does that help Realtor.ca continue to be the premier real estate site for consumers? By providing our data to the third-party competition, how does that make Realtor.ca more attractive to the advertisers who would like to advertise on our Realtor.ca site? Will not the third-party websites be competing for the same advertising dollars? Won’t the activity on Realtor.ca decline significantly once consumers can find the same data on other third-party sites and won’t that affect our advertising revenue potential? If activity on Realtor.ca drops significantly, won’t our members question why we are spending thousands of dollars on Realtor.ca when the same data can be found on countless other sites?
The argument that brokers and presumably salespeople can opt out of sending the data to third-party sites as if we have some control does not make any sense. If you, as a Realtor can send your listing data to third-party sites by simply checking a box on the listing input form, why would you not do it? I think every Realtor and brokerage (with few exceptions) will send every listing to these third-party sites through DDF. I can hear those who send this data to the sites now and the CREA brass saying, “EXACTLY”! Then I say why are we spending thousands of dollars on enhancing and maintaining Realtor.ca? Why not just send the third-party sites the data and save our money and aggravation on Realtor.ca? The facility in the DDF program that allows the distribution of data (IDX) to every Realtor in Canada is excellent and long overdue but the facility that distributes the data to third-party sites will cause the eventual demise of Realtor.ca in my opinion.
Realtor.ca continues to be the best lead-generating site for most Realtors. Consequently, CREA in my opinion should stop sending our data to third-party organizations immediately. This activity is at cross purposes to the strategy of enhancing and promoting Realtor.ca. CREA should then spend our money by either hiring an independent organization or otherwise, whichever is the best technology solution, and enhance Realtor.ca.
Let’s drive more and more consumers to Realtor.ca by marketing the site features as the only place to find verifiable, up-to-date and accurate MLS listed data provided exclusively by over 90,000 Realtors across Canada. Because of the integrity of our data and the volume of our listings, consumers will soon find, as they already do, that they can rely on the accurate information we provide. Only significant traffic will allow Realtor.ca to attract national advertisers. Could Realtor.ca generate enough advertising dollars to offset the cost of Realtor.ca or CREA for that matter? Perhaps wishful thinking!
Vito Campanale C.A.
Broker of Record
Century 21 First Canadian Corp.