Property Listing Syndication for Property Management and Real Estate Companies

Let’s say you are a property management company dealing in individual residential units and multifamily community rentals and asset management. Your property managers and leasing agents manage over 3,000 units and 400+ are available for rent. Your admins, agents and/or managers are spending hours every week manually uploading their listings to MLS, Rentals.com, Apartments.com, Zillow.com, Google Base, Truli, Hotpads.com and dozens more (or worse they don’t do this at all). This is time consuming and inefficient in your mind, as you would like to see the property managers driving business, growing your inventory and keeping their owners and tenants happy. This is a common scenario and I am going to talk a little bit about how you can work toward reducing the number of touch-points when marketing and advertising listings. This applies to standard real estate brokerages as well, so real estate agents and brokers, this is for you too!

The first step is to identify where in the setup of a new listing into your systems (Yardi Voyarger, Propertyware, In-house system for listing management) you would like to have as your “source” for all listing information, such as the property description, marketing title, address, photos and all other associated information. This is important because it will determine whether you will need to hire a developer to integrate with those systems. Some of them provide built-in ability to pull this type of information out, while others do not without very expensive support from the vendor.

Step two is to decide which real estate websites you think are most effective for your listings. For rental listings I recommend the following websites to syndicate to (automatically send your listings):

Syndication

Unpaid Syndication Partners (free):

Yahoo Real Estate
Googlebase
Zillow
Trulia
Oodle
Military.com
Walmart Classifieds
BackPage.com
Local.com
Lycos Classified
Rented Spaces (AOL)
MySpace classifies
CLRSearch
HotPads
Vast.com
Enormo
RentBits
Yakaz
Layar
Aloqa
Trovit
Twitter – Hotpads
Twitter – Your house account
Facebook – Oodle
Facebook – Your house account

Paid Syndication Partners:

RentalHomesPlus.com
Rentals.com

In order to be able to automate your rental listings I recommend using one of three primary technologies (although not the only method):

1. HTTP DATA POST
2. XML POST
3. Third party syndication

HTTP Data Post and XML Posts both require a developer or consultant to build the system out for you. There are some advantages of these first two options that #3 “third party syndication” cannot do, such as allow you to have aggregated reporting and tracking for all leads. In the case of option #3, I recommend using Realbird.com – a real estate agent/broker targeted site that allows you to manually upload your listings and syndicate to many of the sites I listed above for $89/year. Because this does require a manual upload and management of the listings (expired, etc…) it leaves something to be desired in the way of efficiency, but will be the least expensive from a hard cost standpoint. After you factor in time of your employees to manage the inventory you may be surprised how much it is costing you and your staff.

Using HTTP Data Posts or XML to pull your listing data from your management software to your company’s website, then syndicating it from there is the ideal method. It allows you to integrate with CRM or leads management software to track all calls, email and other touch-points across your own websites and other websites you don’t own! I will have an entire blog post about leads management sometime next week, so keep an eye out for that.

Unfortunately there’s no do-it-yourself guide to listing syndication, but it is absolutely possible with the right consultant driving the project. Plan to spend anywhere from $10,000 – $50,000 depending on the complexity and nature of the project. This should give you some idea of how to budget. The investment is well worth it long term especially when you factor in integration with leads management.

Please post any questions you may have about your business and I will try to respond with specifics to help point you in the right direction. Until next time.