Realtor.com® President Errol Samuelson reassured REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives on Thursday that impending changes to the site — including the expansion of its database to include listings from sources other than REALTORS® — will strengthen the REALTOR® brand. Samuelson joined NAR CEO Dale Stinton and 2013 President Gary Thomas in a webinar to further explain the changes. Samuelson and NAR have been fielding questions since the NAR board’s recommendation July 24 to include unlisted new homes and rentals, as well as listings from entities that are not REALTOR®-owned and controlled and from practitioners who are not REALTORS®.
The move has been widely praised in tech circles, though some REALTORS® have questioned whether it’s a “betrayal” of the REALTOR® brand. Samuelson responded in the session and reiterated in a commentary published by Inman News on Friday that it’s actually “an act of profound fidelity to the brand.”
“We can help set the standard for the business model,” Samuelson said in Thursday’s webinar. “We believe we can also be a very strong brand partner to help the REALTOR® brand.”
That’s because consumers will see the REALTOR® trademark and a statement about what it means on every REALTOR®-represented property on the site. In addition, REALTOR® listings will get better play on the site, Samuelson said. While realtor.com® search results will continue to be served up according to price, REALTOR® listings matching a user’s search criteria will appear first.
And realtor.com® is incorporating some PR into its search results: Users will see pop-ups that explain REALTORS®’ involvement in influencing local housing policy. So when a consumer searches for homes in Maryland, for example, a pop-up will show on-screen saying, “REALTORS® successfully fought a proposal in Maryland that would have trimmed the state’s deduction and raised taxes for home owners.”
“There’s an opportunity to go beyond the value of a REALTOR® listing, the value of a REALTOR®, and talk about what NAR and REALTORS® are doing on behalf of consumers,” Samuelson said.
Other things realtor.com® is planning to do to reinforce the REALTOR® brand include:
- Showing REALTORS®’ accreditations on their listing profiles along with explanations about what those accreditations mean.
- Offering differentiated pricing for REALTORS® to advertise on realtor.com®, reinforcing to agents the importance of the REALTOR® brand.
- Beefing up data security so that listing information cannot be scraped. Samuelson said the site blocks 1.5 million scraping attempts every day.
Samuelson also sought to dispel concerns that including listings from individuals and entities who are not REALTORS® would damage the site’s key value proposition: its accuracy. He said third-party listings would be aggregated from “credible sources,” and he reiterated that consumer FSBO listings, including from databases targeting FSBOs, will continue to be banned from realtor.com®.