Formal Letter to Members of Metrolist Board and Assoc. Reps

In the interest of full disclosure, I am publishing the actual email that I sent to members of the board and participating associations.  List of emails this was sent to is below.

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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the Board, staff and association representatives.

When the decision was made to no longer offer Diverse Solutions IDX products to your membership, it may have seemed that the 40-50 members affected would be able to easily switch to a different provider without any downtime, unforeseen expenses or loss of business.  At least I’d like to think that your expectations were that a seamless transition to a new vendor were possible and indeed painless.  I would like to briefly point out to you that it is simply not the case.

We build custom real estate websites with IDX integration as part of what our company does, and have been catering to the real estate niche at least in part for over a decade.  Over the years, we have integrated and worked with a few dozen various IDX vendors and solutions, and know what is involved in migrating from one vendor to another and the hours involved in properly integrating these products.  Specifically, with IDX by Diverse Solutions, here is what your members will be looking at in order to move to a different vendor.

 

  • An average Diverse Solutions powered site generates over 10,000 permalinks in the google index.  That means that for every search page, results page and most listings in the mls, there is a page created on the member’s website that gets indexed by google.  Additionally, these pages are created dynamically every time a new listing comes on the market.  There is absolutely NO way to redirect this number of pages to a different permalink structure.  This means that every one of your members will suddenly have Page Not Found 404 errors on all these links.  Google penalizes sites for having broken links when there are a few dozen.  When there are thousands – the damage to any page rank will be tremendous.
  • Consumers of your members (i.e. potential buyers and sellers) will have created anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of saved links to search queries that they were running and favorite listings using Diverse Solutions console.  While contact details such as names and email addresses can likely be exported, the saved data, links and activities of these users is not recoverable.  This means that each member affected will have to get in touch with every person who registered on their site and recreate manually every single search link for them in the new system.  This would result in untold hours of time.
  • Customizing an indexable IDX to fit with the needs of  a specific market takes an average of 20 hours of professional assistance.  Our time for something like this runs $125.00 per hour for a total of $2,500
  • Creating additional custom searches and pages for each area and community takes an average agent or broker hundreds of hours over the course of the year.  This work will need to be redone in the new solution.
  • Lastly and just as importantly, the learning curve associated with implementation and usage of any IDX is generally significant for both, agents and brokers and site’s visitors.  Your members will now have to plan to devote a substantial amount of their time to learning a new product and to teaching their prospects how to utilize new tools (something that these prospects were not expecting to have to go through).

Additionally, it will be only prudent to consider the merits or lack thereof of any product that the board decides to eliminate from the list of offerings to its members.  In our experience, Diverse Solutions IDX products are some of the best on the market.  There are very few IDX products that come close to offering all of the below and work seamlessly with any wordpress site (which is a recommended choice of platform for real estate in most tech circles).

  • Full Fledged intuitive map search that updates in real time
  • Radial search based on proximity to address, landmark etc.
  • User controlled polygonal search
  • Indexable dynamic page creation with proper tagging
  • Ability to easily drop in listings into any bit of content via a click of a button (using shortcodes)
  • Native Mobile Search that works automatically on any mobile device at no additional cost
  • Native agent chat feature
  • Registration and lead generation options that the agent or broker can control without additional expense
  • Sleek and intuitive interface design
  • Seamless integration into any WordPress theme

These are just some of the features of Diverse Solutions, and while those of you reading this may not fully grasp what this means to your members, you should at the very least go through your vendor list and look for comparable offerings at a similar price point.

I had written an Open Letter to Metrolist yesterday on my blog. Here is the link for your convenience:  http://teamhardison.com/wordpress-real-estate-site-design/open-letter-metrolist-mls-re-diverse-solutions-idx-fiasco/

I wanted to take a moment and reiterate in this email some of the points I had made in my article in the hopes that you will at the very least be equipped with enough information to properly weigh the risks of data sharing with Zillow against the benefits for your members that are currently using Diverse Solutions products, and to be frank, other members who currently still have a choice to use one of the better IDX products there are.

While your official statements seem to dispel any rumors that this decision was predicated solely on the fear of future misuse of data by Zillow, few of us in the Real Estate space believe that.  It seems that the fear of Zillow as an aggregator is indeed the biggest motivator here, and it’s understandable.  Having said that, you would do far better by your members to re-word your contracts and compliance docs so that your fears are assuaged, and should a violation occur, there is always recourse of the legal variety.  Pre-emptive strike against vendors that will have a detrimental effect on your own members smacks of the Minority Report style power play, and one wonders who the ultimate beneficiary would be.

The optimist in me hopes that you’ll do the right thing and reconsider your decision.

Sincerely,

Inna Hardison-

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Emails of the recipients: ‘support@metrolist.com’; ‘compliance@metrolist.com’; ‘BruceGardner@YourCastle.org’; ‘ed@integrityregroup.net’; ‘kleaston@comcast.net’; ‘jan.reinhardt@remax.net’; ‘alice@tuppersteam.com’; ‘machiele@machielemarks.com’; ‘stevenholson@msn.com’; ‘jim@jimwanzeck.com’; ‘gary@gdbauer.com’; ‘gerryf@remax.net’; ‘bobmost@rmi.net’; ‘mtrenka@condosandlofts.com’; ‘lonwelsh@yourcastle.org’; ‘mikeburns@remax.net’; ‘chad.ochsner@homesincolorado.com’

These encompass most people I could find who should be in a position to help change reverse Metrolist’s decision.  Please feel free to use any text you find here to help spread the word and help your fellow Denver agents and brokers deal with this situation.  Thank you.

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2 Responses to Formal Letter to Members of Metrolist Board and Assoc. Reps
  1. Ricardo Bueno - Diverse Solutions
    February 10, 2012 | 12:12 pm

    Ricardo here from Diverse Solutions… I just want to dispel any concerns over the fear of misuse of data by Zillow. To be clear we were prepared to sign the same IDX agreement that Diverse Solutions had before and that every other IDX provider signs. In the agreement it has provisions about misuse of data. That said, it’s not as if Zillow can simply flip a switch and use IDX data on Zillow.com as that would be in clear violation of our contractual agreement.

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