Multiple listing services (MLSs) and associations are the backbone of the real estate industry, supporting brokers and agents and operating the vast, rich listing databases that facilitate most of the residential real estate deals in North America.
MLSs have an undeniable superpower: data.
Transparent, accessible data helps ensure fairness and equity in pricing, terms, and ultimately homeownership. In addition to running databases for members, MLSs also generally provide listing data to consumer-facing real estate sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, where millions of potential home buyers and sellers search for properties.
Now imagine if your MLS could attract some of those visitors to your own MLS listing website? Instead of losing eyes and clicks to the national listing giants, your MLS could keep them for yourself, boosting your own organic traffic, generating and sharing leads with your members, diversifying revenue streams, and elevating your profile in the industry.
According to a joint study by BrightMLS and Drexel University, homes listed on the MLS sold for 17.5% more than those that were not. Therefore, it is in the industry’s best interest to list as many homes on the MLS as possible. The best way to do that is to convey this tangible value to members and consumers alike.
The challenge: when your portal looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90s, it will send visitors back to the national listing sites, not draw them in. If consumers try to search for a property but don’t have a way to narrow down their results fast enough, they’ll go elsewhere.
As MLS footprints (and influence) grow with the continued trend toward MLS consolidation, MLSs will also have the opportunity to grab more market share and assert themselves in the space, if they play their cards right.
Not least of all, upgrading your MLS or association portal is an opportunity to do things the right way, from design, to user experience, to data integration. A lot has changed even in just the last five years, and those who embrace technology (and change) will be best equipped to adapt to it.
Below are 6 of the many benefits of upgrading your MLS/association portal.
Search engine optimization has become a key to increasing organic traffic online. As you can read in our Ultimate SEO Guide for Real Estate, search engine optimization amounts to hundreds of tiny tweaks that add up to big benefits. Outdated portals require more advanced changes and reverse engineering to get the optimizations you need to be super successful online, while new portals built on the right framework can adapt to search engine algorithms quickly and easily.
User experience (UX) design has also advanced substantially in recent years. Accessibility, responsiveness, user journeys, and website best practices have shifted considerably, making websites that felt fresh even just 5 years ago look dated, clunky, and unfriendly. Better UX means websites that are easier to navigate and where users spend more time, which also has positive SEO benefits.
Your listing data is one of your most valuable assets. Other types of data, like public record data, can greatly enhance listing presentation and the overall homebuying experience.
When you are in charge of customizing your own portal, you get to choose exactly what to integrate, where, and how. There are more (and better) real estate data types and insights than ever before, and the way you add them to your property listing portal will be a crucial differentiating factor that can help set your website (and your business) apart.
With better SEO, better UX, and better insights, users will stay longer, interact more, and take advantage of all your portal’s offerings. The result: more opportunities to capture and nurture high-quality, qualified, FREE leads and to pass those leads on to your members. This is a compounding benefit of MLS membership: not only do the sales prices of on-MLS properties exceed those of off-MLS properties by a wide margin, but the possibility of receiving free leads will be the icing on the cake.
In our fast-paced, social media-driven lives, consumers expect more, and they expect it fast. If they are trying to search for a property in your coverage area but can’t narrow down their results intuitively and quickly, they will go elsewhere (probably back to one of the national listing giants).
When you design your very own MLS portal, you get to design your own property search features, giving you a significant advantage because you know better than anyone what is important to consumers and what they are searching for.
Do you know how some of the world’s biggest websites make their money? By displaying ads. And with enough organic traffic, your MLS could, too.
The US’s largest real estate website gets about 60 million visitors every month. By some estimates, that could equate to more than $450,000 just in passive monthly ad revenue. As an MLS, you probably won’t be able to count on dozens of millions of monthly visitors, but even just 200,000 monthly page views could generate upwards of $1,000 per month, which is money in the bank for something you already have. When you work with the right partners, you can also make sure that the ads that display are ones that enhance your visitors’ experience, not detract from it.
By some estimates, at their peak, there were as many as 1,400 regional associations/boards. Due to consolidation, a trend that experts say will only continue, the total number of distinct MLSs is shrinking. Today, there about closer to 600 MLSs across the United States.
What does this mean for the ones that remain? First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to strengthen your position, both literally (in terms of geographical reach or number of members) and figuratively, in terms of your brand recognition and loyalty. A customized, design-forward, user-friendly, and memorable portal can help your MLS or association stand out in an increasingly competitive field dominated by fewer and fewer players.
– Tammy Owen, Technology Director, Valley MLS
Constellation1 is an expert MLS portal provider. We have helped some of the United States’ most successful MLSs and associations stand out even more and leverage their strengths with completely tailored MLS listing websites and member-only portals. Your MLS or association could reap the same benefits and share the wealth with your members, too. Contact us today to learn more about what an enhanced portal could do for you.