Will Zillow Win The MLS Data Aggregation Wars

by Victor Lund on July 20, 2016

Data ManagementA new war over data management has broken out among America’s largest technology firms, and no clear winner is in sight. To begin, it may be best to level set around what data aggregation is. For brokerage firms or technology companies that leverage MLS data in software, they are pulling MLS data feeds. When you are pulling more than one feed, you are aggregating MLS data.

Brokerage firms and software companies that have hired WAV Group to streamline their data aggregation systems know that we have always focused on the three leading firms that have been aggregating MLS data for years: Homes.com, Real Estate Digital, and WolfNet. From time to time, we do send our RFPs to other firms, but we have never been able to find any vendor who has the breadth of market coverage or the quality of data management systems that compete with those firms.

The thesis for outsourcing data aggregation if you are a broker or a software vendor is simple. Homes.com, Real Estate Digital, and WolfNet already have the data on their servers. Each of them curate more than 98% of the MLS data from more than 600 of the nation’s MLSs every day, and in some markets they are updating as much as 96 times per day (about every 15 minutes in large markets). There are easily 4 million updates per day to the data. Rather than duplicating the effort with your data administrators, brokers, franchises, and software vendors are outsourcing. The price is lower than doing it yourself and, in our experience, these three firms are expert at the job and provide delightful customer service.

Here comes Zillow and CoreLogic

Although Homes.com, Real Estate Digital, and WolfNet have been sword fighting each other for prize accounts like Realogy, RE/MAX, Keller Williams, and HomeServices of America for decades, the war is about to change. Two massive companies are entering the battle with some pretty attractive offerings. Zillow has developed and launched a product called RETS.LY™. CoreLogic has developed and launched a product called Trestle™. The primary difference between the incumbent data aggregators and the new data aggregators is that they are targeting the sale and delivery of the service to MLS rather than to brokers or software developers. Zillow announced a handful of small MLSs who are licensing data to RETS.LY. CoreLogic came out of the chute with 300 MLSs covering the data of the largest MLSs serving over 750,000 MLS subscribers already on their systems.

Off Market Listings and AVMs are the new weapons of war

With Zillow and CoreLogic, there is a new weapon in the data aggregation war – and it’s off market data. MLS data is mostly focused on aggregating active or recently sold listings. However, Zillow and CoreLogic are allowing brokers and software vendors to dip their straw into the parcel record database. Both firms have data on every parcel in America. In the case of CoreLogic, their property records go back to the inception of public records created by First American Title before the days of the typewriter (interesting side bar – First American was among the companies that purchased the first typewriters ever manufactured and you can see them on display in the foyer of their offices on the Anaheim campus). Zillow is a newcomer to the parcel record aggregation business, and I am pretty sure that they purchase some of their data from CoreLogic.

With RETS.LY, our understanding is that the parcel records available to license by brokers or software developers may not be displayed to the consumer. They are for back office systems only. Zillow has long offered their Zestimate AVM via an API to brokers and software vendors for free. WAV Group has not seen a demonstration of the RETS.LY solution yet. They have not had data in enough markets to answer any of our RFPs to date.

With Trestle, CoreLogic is permitting the display of public records to the public. Brokers will now be able to build webpages for every property in the marketplace regardless of its sale status – active, pending, sold, etc. Trestle will not be offering the CoreLogic institutional grade AVMs for free.

CoreLogic’s Trestle is nominated for the 2016 Inman Innovator Award. I have tried to avoid speaking geek in this article, so let’s just say that what CoreLogic has developed is spawned from managing hundreds of MLS RETS servers and petabytes of data for years. Their data center is developed to meet the highest standards for government and banking, and the dashboard for configuring, authorizing, and reporting on data feeds. It is a really nice looking product.

Call Us

If you need help selecting a vendor for data aggregation, please feel free to contact WAV Group. We have years of experience understanding your needs and arranging for proposals from the industry leaders. Because we do so many of them, we typically get you the best product for the best price with a short turnaround time.

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