The internet is making access to information easier at a remarkable pace.  This works to everyone’s advantage, until the process for making information easy results in key valuable information being omitted.
The agent may know less than you…because it isn’t their listing.

In the real estate industry, the number of websites where you can go to search for a home number in the millions.   Most of the content for websites comes from real estate agents contracting with a seller and then marketing the property in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  From there, the information is shared to thousands of websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and – all vying for web traffic related to real estate.

Surprisingly, one of the most frequently omitted or underemphasized bits of information is the contact information of the listing agent.  The simple reason is that the websites make most of their money by selling the names and contact information of people requesting information on properties to people besides the listing agent.  In other words, very often the agent you are contacting about the home knows no more than you do about the property, because it isn’t their listing.
“The bait is the listing information and the switch happens when the individual requesting more information is connected with the highest bidder — Not the Listing Agent”
Smart real estate agents are branding their photos with watermarks to protect their inventory and ensure the customer knows who to contact for the best information about the home.  It is hard for websites to automate scrubbing the contact information from the photos.

Why Branded Photos Matter…

To Sellers.  You just hired a real estate agent to sell your home.  The agent likely knows more than any other real estate professional about your property.  Doesn’t it make sense to have them respond to requests for information and explain the features and benefits of the property?
To Buyers.  Few things in real estate are more frustrating than to call on a property you are interested in only to find out the person you are talking to knows no more than you do.  Your efforts to find additional information are now delayed until the person you contacted finds out more and then relays the update to you.
To Real Estate Agents.  You developed the relationship with the seller.  You listed the property.  You took the pictures.  Why should your competitor get to use your efforts and intellectual property to generate leads?

  1. Learn how to watermark.  If you don’t know how to edit your photography so that you can add a watermark with your contact information, the first thing you should do is find a professional who can help you. 
  2. Differentiate between the MLS and the web.  Many real estate agents have made the mistake of assuming the rules that apply in their local MLS also apply on the web.  Agents should consider not only how to manage the data in the MLS, but also how to position their listings on the thousands of websites where most of the buyers and sellers see real estate for sale.
  3.  Control the data feeds and your inventory.  Now, there are multiple data providers sending market data to third party listing websites like Zillow and  Agents have to manage all of them.  It isn’t enough anymore to post a listing to the MLS and forget about it.  All of the third party sites have to be managed by going online and claiming your listing or by managing the source of the data. 
ERA Brokers Consolidated has been protecting it’s inventory since 2012 by using branded watermarks to stay connected with the seller’s home and inventory.  If you would like more information on protecting listing inventory and branding photos, you may contact:

Matt Walter, MBA
Technology Director
ERA Brokers Consolidated
direct: 435.627.5748