With sales down from their recent peak and regulatory and legal scrutiny of the industry’s predominant compensation structure intensifying, brokerages face more competition and uncertainty than they have in years.
This has prompted some brokerages to test new strategies, such as Howard Hanna’s decision in July to opt out of IDX in a portion of its Ohio market. The firm, which has approximately 12,000 agents across 13 states, is treading carefully by testing the impact in just a small portion of its overall market.
By opting out of IDX, Howard Hanna’s listings will not be displayed on many other brokerage and agent sites in the test market. Instead of IDX, the company has chosen to share its listings under a virtual office website (VOW) feed, which requires users to login to an online account to access listing information online.
Given that many broker and agent websites do not display listings with a VOW feed, Howard Hanna has reduced the sites through which consumers can access its listings online. By doing so, the firm is testing the strategy’s impact on the firm’s market share, buy-side business, mortgage business and lead volume, says Howard Hanna CEO Hoby Hanna.
The early results of the test have been promising. Hanna shared from May to June the company saw an increase of registered users on its site in Ohio, and is actively evaluating whether to expand the strategy.
If successful in the northern Ohio test area, Hanna says the company plans to expand the strategy to other markets, including Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, Rochester and Buffalo.
While the company is carefully measuring the results and impact, it has not committed to the approach long term. A return to IDX is possible if the anticipated improvement in various business metrics does not materialize.
As competition heats up, more brokerages may be willing to assess the possible benefits of innovative strategies like the one Howard Hanna is testing with this approach. Experimenting with new strategies aimed at helping a company grow and adapt is always a valuable approach, something T3 Sixty encourages industry leaders to consider, no matter their size.