What is Syndication?
Syndication is another word for the way listings are published to hundreds of sites around the Internet after being input into the MLS.
The good news is:
You are always in complete control over your listings within the MLS. But only if you choose to be.
How Syndication Works
Here’s what you need to know about how syndication works.
After a listing is entered into the MLS, brokers can choose to distribute that listing to hundreds of Internet sites outside of the MLS through the SABOR Syndication Dashboard and Listhub. At the listing level, there are still controls that agents can use to enable/restrict an individual listing’s distribution on the internet through IDX, if the brokerage is participating in the IDX program.
SABOR believes that brokers should have the control to carefully select where their listings will be published. In other words, it is an automatic process based on the brokerage and the listing settings of where those listings are published.
In fact, there are approximately 80 publisher sites to choose from within ListHub. And with this many destinations, it’s important to understand how each uses your listings after they’re published. Not all sites are the same, and they don’t always behave in ways you might think. For example, some publishers, after receiving your listings, redistribute them to other companies and websites.
It’s important to understand the scope of the publisher’s entire network.
Remind Me How Syndication Differs from IDX and VOW
Syndication is when companies publish listings on third party sites (not the agent/brokerage). Meanwhile, IDX and VOW are different ways listings can be published on agent/brokerage websites. There are MLS rules that govern IDX and VOW displays because the listings being displayed do not all belong to the website owner. In fact, most listings belong to other brokerages.
You might wonder why anyone would syndicate a listing to a site they cannot control. Fortunately, there’s a simple answer: By syndicating your listings, agents and brokers can get their listings in front of a potentially exponential audience of home seekers.
This exposure can have some great benefits, such as the potential to land a sale more quickly and provide greater brand awareness for the listing broker and agent. This can also help generate additional leads and business for the brokerage.
Is Syndication Good…Or Bad?
There are always two sides to every situation. Let’s look at the pros and cons of syndication.
Pro: Agents can get potentially millions of views for listings in the San Antonio and surrounding areas that otherwise may not have been seen.
Con: The more widely a listing is distributed, the more likely it is to become stale along the way.
So why is that? When a listing exists exclusively within the MLS, it remains under the direct control of the broker and the agent. However, when the listing is syndicated or published outside the MLS to multiple sites, it runs the risk of falling out of sync with the MLS.
That’s because not all sites update their listings frequently enough with the accurate data coming from SABOR’s MLS. This is particularly true of sites that do not take a direct feed from the MLS, or sites that infrequently update their data via ListHub’s feed.
Why Syndicated Listings Can Be Incorrect
There’s another reason that data might be incorrect in a listing. And it has nothing to do with ListHub or the MLS.
Let’s say that you create a virtual tour for your new listing, outside of the MLS. If you choose a company that promises to publish, or syndicate, its tours to other sites than its own, it’s entirely possible that this listing could find its way to one of the big national portals.
Consider this. If one of the big national portals has an agreement with your virtual tour company but the information is different between the tour you publish and the information you entered into the MLS, the MLS data is supposed to overwrite (known as “trumping”) the tour company’s data. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Well, the portal takes the best guess. That’s why something as simple as a typographical error can appear in a listing and be stubbornly hard to correct. Where do you, as the listing owner, go to correct it? The virtual tour company, the big national portal, or both?
Now let’s consider the worst-case scenario.
Imagine your listing is syndicated to a site that isn’t included as an authorized publisher within ListHub or directly from SABOR’s MLS. Because there’s no official relationship between this publisher and the original listing information (the MLS), there’s now no way to synchronize the data in your listing back to the accurate MLS data.
Listings published in this manner can live for years on the Internet because they’re usually not maintained and updated by the people who created them.
For example, a virtual tour of an active listing will sometimes not be removed after the property is sold. With no relationship back to the MLS, we cannot help rectify that situation for you.
It’s easy to see that the best syndication takes place when the data is tightly correlated with regular updates coming out of SABOR’s MLS. In this case, agents and brokers enjoy the advantages of syndicated listings but maintain a high level of control.
What’s the MLS’s Role?
The MLS is here to help brokers and agents succeed, plain and simple. It’s also why we’ve built this site. It’s a one-stop shop for agents and brokers alike to find out how syndication works so you can make smart choices.