TL;DR: Don't worry about being on the local agent websites as they get virtually no traffic. Just be sure you are listed on the local MLS and the major real estate websites.
Why Can't I Find My Property Listed on a Local Real Estate Agent Website?
Usually this has to do with how the Internet Data Display (IDX) feeds work. Each MLS has an IDX feed, which has the data for the properties listed on that MLS. Local agents who are a member of an MLS can subscribe to this IDX feed and display the properties on their website.
Where it gets tricky is that in many areas, there are overlapping MLS'. For example, half of the properties in an area could be listed on MLS "A", while the other half could be listed on MLS "B".
Any local agent working would naturally want to see ALL of the properties that are for sale, regardless of which local MLS the property is listed on. The MLS' are aware that this could be an issue for local agents, so often the overlapping MLS' agree to share data with each other so the agent does not have to pay for both MLS'.
When the data is shared between the MLS', the MLS' have to decide if they are going to allow the shared data into their IDX feed or if they will only have the data that originated on that MLS to appear.
Some MLS' do, some MLS' don't.
In the case where the MLS' don't allow the shared data into the IDX feed, the local agent website will only show fraction of the properties that are available in an area. This is why the local agent websites are typically of very limited use and get < 1% of buyer traffic.
How Do the Major Real Estate Websites Factor Into This?
Over 99% of home buyer searches are on the major real estate websites, instead of the local agent websites. The reason is because the major real estate websites bring together all of the IDX feeds from the MLS', so they show all of the homes for sale in an area, instead of just a single IDX feed that most local real estate websites display.
So Should I Be Concerned If My Property Is Not on a Local Agent IDX Website?
No. As long as the property is visible to agents on the local MLS and is on the major real estate websites (Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin, etc), that is the important thing. The reason why it's not important to be on a local agent website is that they get virtually zero traffic. Basically all buyers search the top real estate websites.
Can I Just Find a Flat Fee MLS Agent That Can List Directly on the Local MLS and IDX?
Sometimes, but usually flat fee MLS agents rely on the data sharing between MLS' to get a property to appear on all of the local MLS'. The reason is cost. For example, in Southeast Florida, here are three MLS':
- Southeast Florida (Miami) MLS
- Beaches MLS
- Martin County MLS
These three MLS' have a data share between them, so by listing on any one of them, the listing appears on all of them.
A flat fee agent could join each of the above MLS' and pay the quarterly fees, etc, but that would amount to thousands of dollars per MLS each year and the only value gained is the IDX feed, which goes to websites that get <1% of traffic (a big expense, with little gained).
Instead, the flat fee agents rely on the data share. The flat fee agent will join one of the above MLS' and then the listing will be shared to the others.
As a seller, instead of paying more to get on a certain IDX feed, you are wiser to spend that money on signage, better photos, or posting to social media - we know this because the National Association of Realtors does studies on how buyers find homes. Here is their data from 2020 on how buyers found the home they purchased (source here):
- Internet: 51%
- Real estate agent: 28%
- Yard sign/open house sign: 7%
- Friend, relative, or neighbor: 6%
- Home builder or their agent: 5%
- Directly from sellers/Knew the sellers: 3%
In summary, don't worry about being on the local agent websites, as they get virtually no traffic. Just be sure you are listed on the local MLS and the major real estate websites.
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