So the CEO of Goo gle has recently referred to the Internet as a cesspool, as he referenced the quality of content and the amount of false information residing on it. The vast number of sites that are only out to "capture" leads or to make spam lists far out number the true intent of the Internet. The Internet was started like most MLSs were. It was a place where colleagues could go to easily discuss topics and do research. But it has become contaminated with sneaky programmers who divert searches to untrustworthy sites that scrape personal information, create mistrust and cause confusion.
So what is the solution? Do real estate professionals contribute to the cesspool? How can real estate professionals help filter out the sneaky sites? How does the Internet get that trust back?
First, do real estate professionals contribute to the cesspool? Some say yes and some say no.
Those who say no, argue that their listings and information add content to sites that people are looking for. They believe that the content they provide to sites that others control help customers find property. They are not concerned with how the content is used, and prefer to believe that having their content in as many places as possible, adds marketability to real estate. Many real estate agents provide MLS searches from their own pages, making them small real tor.coms, when it is permitted. They comment, "It is what people expect, so we have to.", or "Everyone else does it...", and "You can't stop it...". Some say they use lead generation as much or more than actually selling real estate and that consumers accept it.
Then there are those who believe that real estate professionals are large contributors to the garbage of the Internet. They explain that because real estate searching continues to be one of the largest uses of the Internet, real estate is one of the industries contributing to the sewage on the Net. Many agents, brokers and companies have more than one domain registered for their business adding to consumer confusion. (One company owner in my town has at least 50 real estate domains registered.) Then there are those sites which are not involved in actually transacting real estate, but that "mooch" real estate content from any source they can access. Lead generation has become a side business of many real estate licensees, and it is the whole business of some sites. Other domains try to give value estimates or sales comps that are more questionable than accurate. Even tax information can be out of date and untrustworthy. There are also many sites with outdated data that hasn't been updated. R E professionals comment that between the multiple sites owned by real estate professionals, and those other sites using content with and without authorization, there is much more that listing agents can do to limit the growth of unhealthy and untrustworthy sites.
Next, how CAN real estate professionals help clean up sites that are contaminating the Internet? There is one sure way to halt the pollution. If true real estate professionals control where their data is allowed to be published, their own sites become a greater source of the truth. Someone has said to think of it this way: In the early years, agents and companies got used to having someone else display their listings because they didn't have their own domain. But now, almost every agent that is active has a domain they'd like people to find - their web site is sort of their own online office. When an agent provides content to a site not their own, often in the form of listings, that agent is decreasing the chances of their own online office being found. The content placed on others' sites also adds to the "Internet Cesspool" instead of helping customers. Even having similar information on their own multiple domains dilutes and pollutes the Internet. Many agents are finding that the vast assortment of real estate sites on the Net are confusing customers and contributing to the slow down in the real estate market. Customers are now like new licensees, in that they are trying to decipher large amounts of real estate data and statistics into useful information. Add to that confusion, a high turnover in the real estate industry, and there is a huge opportunity for those who depend on agents for content to convince new licensees that they need to feed competing sites.
So, CAN true professionals help de-pollute the Internet? Yes and many are. There are professional movements all over the country that are focused on endorsing real estate professionals' own web sites. Automatic content feeds are stopping. Listings are returning to the listing agent's or company's pages. Many are recognizing that mistrust is resulting from misuse of real estate information. True experienced professionals who are intelligent enough to know they need a web site, are now understanding that feeding other sites content is creating mistrust that is not in the best interest of their customers or their business.
And finally, How does the Internet get that trust back? Well, it took a long time to get here. Most of the large search engines are trying to get their robots to filter better. Many virus protection programmers now have add-ons that tell you if a site may be hazardous before you click on a search result. But the only sure way to re-build trust, is to provide trustworthy results and information. Experienced real estate professionals have begun to understanding that trust is more valuable than having their data and listings on many sites - especially when those sites may not be trustworthy. Having true, professional information on a domain that is owned and operated by the professional that originates the content and is responsible for it, is best for the public, the business, and the Internet. Not to mention the time saved by having fewer places that need to be monitored or updated.
So the real estate industry does contribute to Internet Pollution. And, I think true professionals CAN help change it. Trust is worth more than confusion and contamination.
Happy Selling and Listing!
Heath Coker, Associate Broker
Robert Paul Properties
www.CapeGroup.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
508-274-5613 Licensed in MA
Its a beautiful day on Cape Cod!
@CapeGroup Skype: heath.coker