VOW Registration Doesn’t Make Sense for Real Estate Search

I have been wanting to write something about VOW’s (Virtual Office Websites) for quite a while and with this announcement by ZipRealty that they will give up the registration process I’ll weigh in with a few comments.

The article from Inman News – ZipRealty peels back registration requirement requirement for real estate data access outlines their thinking and findings.

The change means visitors to the ZipRealty site will no longer have to register to view home prices, square footage, photos and maps, among other listings details — details that the company notes are readily available on other property search sites through Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds.

In the near future I’m going to outline a covert study I’ve been conducting in regards to registration for the past couple of years. The finding will probably not shock you, but it will lay the smackdown on all the so-called real estate experts out there that are simply giving agents and brokers bad advice.

We were the first vendor that I know of to offer a VOW solution back some 10 years ago. Colorado Springs had a policy that in order to show addresses a prospect had to enter into an agreement and register with a valid email address. I took the time to program a solution where you had to enter into a buyers agreement with the agents website, then the email had to be verified, and once the verification process was completed, you gained access to the data. At that point agents were allowed to show the address. More importantly however, they were allowed to take out the listing office and even more important than that they didn’t have to show the listings agents phone number.

Most existing so called registrations systems are a joke. Their is no email verification. I’m sure their are countless thousands of agents across the country that have had Mickey Mouse come to their site to view properties.

In my humble opinion here are a few reasons why a true VOW registration doesn’t make sense.

  1. Their is nothing unique about the data inside a vow. Visitors to your website want to view properties for sale. They don’t want to spend a ton of time looking at sold properties. They can’t buy a sold property.
  2. According to the NAR and Department of Justice agreement, visitors must enter into working relationship. Really, do you think the visitor to your website realizes they are entering in a lawful broker-consumer relationship. What does that mean? As a real estate agent you know what that means but the visitor doesn’t. Imagine the surprise when the registrant does this on several sites. So much for that agreement and the legal entanglements it could potentially foster.
  3. Your turning away more visitors by putting up a gate in front of the data they want to see. If it was the smart thing to do, don’t you think realtor.com, trulia.com or even zillow.com would be requiring it? Did you ever stop to think that the same data is just a back click away on another site? It doesn’t make sense to turn away someone or force them to raise their hand when their six months to a year away from buying. After all until I’m ready to buy, I don’t want to be pestered by a salesman.
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Posted on by Rick Thomas