Where do all those listings come from? (And chickens)

Did everyone have chickens 100 years ago? We like to educate here, so I will get to that question and the answer shortly. First, I want to tackle another common curiosity.

I have been threatening for some time to create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) archive. In fact, I did just that, but I haven’t yet settled on a logical place for the little linky button to reside. If an FAQ archive exists but no one knows about it, does it really? I’ll leave that to the philosophers among you. In the meantime, just bookmark this guy.

In any event, the idea is this. After over a decade of fielding real estate related questions, we start to feel like we have kind of answered them all at least sixty-four times. And if you begin to hear the same question repeatedly, even the slowest sieve in the kitchen starts to see a trend of “need to know” developing.

“How many websites will my home be advertised on?” It’s a question we get so often (most recently, yesterday) that I figured it was worthy of an answer here. It’s such a common question, in fact, that the answer might ultimately qualify for induction in our FAQ hall of fame – that is, if I do ever retrieve it from its current zero-gravity existence in cyber-space anonymity.

Even if you aren’t concerned about product placement because you are selling a home but simply wondering how all of those listings got to where you are searching for one, there might be something mildly interesting here for you. Or not. We’ll see.

A listing appears online in one of two ways: By MLS magic or by your broker doing something proactive to make it so.

MLS Magic (or, the IDX feed)

IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, and it is a form of broker reciprocity wherein brokers allow their listings to be published on various online sites along side the listings of other, competing brokers. In San Diego, when a listing is input into the Mulitple Listing Service, brokers by default “opt-in” to IDX. They may, however, “opt-out” by either withholding certain information (like address) from third-party sites or by withholding their listing altogether. This is admittedly a rarity, but it does happen.

For those of us who agree to IDX, our listings upon becoming live in the MLS will magically appear on all third-party sites that rely on the IDX feed to populate. Examples include all brokerage sites that offer a search feature (including SanDiegoCastles.com) and Realtor.com. So, in these cases, simply by virtue of being in the MLS, your home will appear. But that is not to say that all listings are created equal. Because the content is pulled directly from the MLS, your agent’s writing prowess and photo representation of your home will appear directly and in all its glory. This is why it is essential that you review your MLS input and be satisfied; this stuff will be broadcast far and wide, good, bad or ugly.

For the buyers reading this – the ones who aren’t already face down in their coffee in a coma born of boredom — remember that old “opt-out” rule next time you are searching online. And remember it when you encounter a website that professes to allow you to search “the entire MLS.” You aren’t. Only member agents have access to “the entire MLS,” strictly speaking.

Listing Syndication (or, being proactive)

This is where is gets tricky. And this is where, as a seller, it is important to know how your agent rolls. As a buyer, it is equally important to know what you are looking at when you visit a home search site.

Many of the popular search sites and countless smaller sites populate their sites either by the agent manually entering their listing information or by the broker “feeding” there listings directly. The more recognizable examples include Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, and AOL Real Estate, to name a few.

As an example, we subscribe to a listing syndication service that ensures that our listings are seen on all of the following sites (and I probably missed a few):

Yahoo Real Estate
AOL Real Estate
FrontDoor (HGTV)
Lycos Classifieds
Walmart Classifieds (seriously)
Cox Media
Fox Interactive Media
New York Times Company (regional)
The Washington Post Express
Florida Press Association
New York Post
Harmon Homes


And now, for what you really hung around for.

Did everyone have chickens 100 years ago? According to Missouri Rep. Guernsey, the answer is yes.

(Note: This little bit of Americana came via Daughter #1 while reporting on another riveting day of goings-on at the Missouri state capitol. I proposed to Drew Meyers that this would make an interesting blog challenge – to create a real estate post around this quote. Alas, my vast social network consisting of my daughter, Drew and three real estate agents didn’t bite. I guess I win.)

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