What do you do when your $6B company (Fidelity) has an extra $1.5B in cash languishing in your bank accounts? You buy back a company (LPS) that you spun out and you start all over again. If you ever doubted the value of providing software and data services to the financial industry, Mr. Foley just answered it. He is now officially back in the MLS business…. Almost. Deal is not quite done. But wait, there is more. Foley is a self made Billionaire who may perhaps be best known for his personal investing in the wine industry – having purchased more than $200 million in vineyards over the past decade and a half. Here in California, they say that the best way to make a little money in the wine industry is to start out with a lot of money. Regardless, Bill Foley is a legendary and upstanding member of the California and New Zealand wine movements. It just goes to show that you need to drink a lot of wine to appreciate how to offer data and software services to the financial industry that underpins real estate today. There were many hedge funds who suspected that Foley might buy Zillow or Trulia. There was some toe dipping into consumer facing websites with Cyberhomes. Perhaps losing tens of millions on Cyberhomes was enough to teach him that those companies are not attractive to him. Indeed, Zillow, Trulia, and MOVE have all learned that they need to diversify into other services to make money providing software services (becoming more like LPS). The consumer sites, even at scale, do not yield healthy profitability and sustained growth to investors unless they buy them on the way up (which Foley may have done). There was nary a whisper of Fidelity buying CoreLogic. Historically, Fidelity’s chief competitor First American would have poisoned such a trade. But they are out of the picture now and CoreLogic has a comparable valuation to LPS. In many ways, LPS was to Fidelity exactly what CoreLogic was to First American. These companies have been on parallel course for years and years and are vicious competitors. It would be a hoot to see First American buy back CoreLogic or even put in a bid for LPS. There is a “go shop” period of 90 days in the offer that allows LPS to find a better price. Place your bets boys! The […]
Since the housing market crash, there has been lots of discussion about shadow inventory. These are properties that are in bank foreclosure or pre-foreclosure that are making their way onto the market. Up until now, this inventory has been slowly released – perhaps strategically by banks who want to contain loss exposure – but more likely as a result of the slow process for foreclosure across America. The only thing slower than a bank’s decision making process is the US Court system. Last week, Zillow – one of the three leading search portals in America began to display 1.2Million listings. As a result, the shadow inventory is no longer in the shadow. What is interesting is that consumers are required to “sign in” to view these foreclosures in their area. I guess that this is Zillow’s version of a VOW. Just for fun, I signed in and looked at a home that was in foreclosure – 1220 Montecito Ridge 93420. Zillow listed this home with a Zestimate of $1,235,887 – $52,000 below the Zestimate. I looked up the same property on REALTORS(r) Property Resource. The RVM on this property is $1,424, 000. The owner is the Reed family (information that you cannot get on Zillow) and they live in Santa Maria, CA (full mailing address is available in RPR). I think that agents should be very grateful that Zillow has made this data available, for free. Consumers are likely to find these homes on Zillow then contact an agent for information. This is where RPR comes in – as a REALTOR(r), beginning tomorrow – you can look up that distressed property and possibly reach out to the owner for a short sale. RPR becomes available to all REALTORS(r) tomorrow. You can also find this information in REALIST, or iMapp, or LPS Tax. It is not clear who is providing Zillow with this shadow inventory data. Could be CoreLogic, could be LPS, is probably both. It is also not clear to me who is getting access to all of the consumer registration data. Those buyer leads are more valuable than the listing data. Perhaps the next horizon for broker websites will be the inclusion of Shadow inventory. The data is available for sale. There may be issues in many markets whereby brokers are not allowed to co-mingle MLS data with non-mls data. A separate search will be necessary to skirt this rule.
I guess that if you are a technology company that has been spending a lot of time in court rooms, you may as well make the best of it, and fix the court system while you are there. Just kidding. In all seriousness, LPS and CoreLogic have largely escaped all damages for thier role in supporting the bad decisions of lenders. That is a good thing. But LPS did just land a huge deal in their courthouse management systems. They were awarded the contract for managing documents on 425,000 court cases that roll through the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller’s office each year. This type of throughput of paper makes a real estate transaction look like a sticky note. Here is the press release.
LPS saw the spin off of their Agent-Broker products division in a management led buy out last September. The new company formed is called Real Estate Digital. Today, it was announced that the LPS Tax company was sold to Lereta. This company has nothing to do with the data that is licensed to RPR or MLSs. This is a tax services company totally separate from the Applied Analytics Data Solutions company that licenses public records and serves MLS. These are interesting times. We will keep you posted on what we hear.
In real estate technology this week, there were two announcements that caught our attention regarding Automated Valuations (AVM). Trulia launched Trulia Estimates, their version of property valuations for consumers that competes with public website rival, Zillow and Zestimates. Along the same lines, CoreLogic announced this week that they have licensed more than 1 million active property listings from MLSs through their Partner InfoNet program (PIN) powering their institutional AVM products. CoreLogic is in a race with NAR’s initiative called Realtors Property Resource or RPR. Lender Processing Service (LPS) licenses active listing data from RPR to power their commercial AVM product. Stepping back for a moment, to the naked eye it looks to me like both Zillow and Trulia have more active listing data powering their AVMs than the institutional products offered by RPR (LPS Partner) or CoreLogic. Trulia and Zillow each claim a number somewhere around 3 or 4 Million active listings. I know that there is a third party rating system that measures the accuracy of AVMs that both LPS and Corelogic subscribe to. Not sure if Zillow does, and it is too early in the game for Trulia, who is only in beta in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the long run, one wonders why Trulia and Zillow are not selling their AVM to the institutional markets like LPS or CoreLogic (or perhaps they are planning to and we don’t know it). One barrier is the ongoing litigation of CoreLogic vs. everyone with an AVM that may infringe on their patents.
WAV Group has been commissioned by LPS Real Estate Group to hire a Product Management position located in Orange County, California for their rDesk platform. The ideal candidate for this position will be an enthusiastic individual that possesses that rare but valuable mixture of intellectual curiosity, business acumen, marketing savvy, technical proficiencies, strong communication skills, and attention to detail. They will be able to drive a team to rally around a vision of a platform that uniquely meets the needs of real estate consumers and real estate practitioners better than its competitors.