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A couple of years ago, two of our most progressive clients came to RPR with a new vision about how MLS systems could work. They strongly believed that MLS systems should be offered in modules to make it easier and more practical for brokers and agents to be able to choose the MLS interface that works best for them. Tim Dain from the Austin Board of REALTORS® and Walt Baczkowski from the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® both saw the opportunity to de-couple the listing input, search and reporting functions from the database that houses all of the MLS information and listing data. When they proposed the idea a couple of years ago, the idea was just a vision. In fact, the same vision was outlined nearly 15 years ago by my former WAV Group partner, Mike Audet. The idea is not new, but until now nobody took the initiative to actually build it. It is very exciting for me to see that one of the industry’s long-standing MLS system and association management software providers has stepped up to help make Tim and Walt’s vision a reality in partnership with RPR. While the release does not outline specific deliverable dates for the program yet, it does suggest to me that leaders in our industry are committed to trying new things that will help evolve the MLS industry and hopefully continue to make it relevant. Here’s the official word from the press release: Rapattoni Corporation and Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) have jointly announced that Rapattoni customers may be among the first real estate professionals with instant access to live listing data and other MLS resources through RPR’s Advanced Multi-List Platform™ (AMP™). “We’re looking to the future of the MLS business, anticipating the needs of our customers as well as the industry at large,” said Brian Tepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Rapattoni. “Our MLS is architected to facilitate integration with a broad spectrum of emerging technologies, allowing MLSs to pull listing data from multiple sources and present it in a single interface. The new AMP™ integration is a dynamic example of how our MLS software uses listing information from multiple databases.” This is a good first step toward a much more flexible and user-centric MLS experience in my view. It would be great if every broker could define their own unique blend of MLS modules that work best for the needs of […]

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Top 5 Broker Website Trends for 2014

by Victor Lund on December 11, 2013

There is a significant gap in the depth of information found on listing portals vs. broker websites today. Aside from marketing acumen and marketing investment, the quality of the experience is simply better on many portal sites. A few years ago, portals dominated brokerages with map search. As brokers got a handle on that, portals evolved with the single, Googlesque search bar. Most good broker sites have gotten a handle on that now too. But the bar continues to move in new directions. The biggest gap seems to be the information contained on the listing detail page. I had a chance to review and discuss this gap with some leading brokers this week and take their temperature on how they plan to address the information gap in 2014.  The responses were fascinating. To begin with, there is a legacy rule that is lingering on many MLS IDX rules regarding commingling MLS data with other data sources. Most of the progressive MLSs have stricken that rule. To all extents and purposes the rule only limited brokers from being competitive. With that rule out of the way, brokers are free to augment listing data with the data that consumers yearn for. Here is the top 5 countdown of features brokers plan to integrate into search or the listing detail pages in 2014. #5 – Drive Time – 21% of Brokers Plan to Integrate Drive Time Search – A new company called INRIX peeked into real estate this fall offering Drive Time data via API. This company collects commute times from cell phone data at a rate of a trillion bits per second or some crazy number like that. You have experienced this when you map something in your car’s GPS or on your phone and it estimates drive time and updates for traffic. Using the INRIX API, consumers or their agents can provide property search results on areas according to drive time. In most metropolitan areas, commute time to school and/or work play a significant role in selecting a neighborhood. #4 – School Zone Attendance Search – 29% of Brokers Plan to integrate this feature in 2014. School Zones have been a hot debate because of the legal implications. Brokers have legitimate concerns about liability if the data is not accurate. The good news is that the data is pretty darn accurate today and disclaimers help overcome the liability. Delta Media, Real Estate Digital, […]

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FIND Offers Unique Reciprocal Data Sharing.

by Victor Lund on September 10, 2013

Before REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) was conceived, the National Association of REALTORS® was working with their realtor.com partner, Move, Inc. to develop a library of information on every property in America. NAR selected another vendor and developed what we know as RPR today. MOVE took their prototype and developed a free product called FINDSM. FIND is proprietary software for MLSs that provides property centric data on more than 100 million real estate parcels in the United States, and offers agents and brokers access to timely, accurate and reliable listing information across MLS boundaries. Available as a link or a tool bar that resides in MLS systems, it provides a depth of property information to enhance the MLS listing. The data accessible is a laundry list that includes fly over zones, flood maps, neighborhood demographics, and so on. FINDis free to any MLS. Over the past three years, about 60 MLS have launched the FIND program to as many as 450,000 agents. To participate in FIND, the MLS need only contract directly with Move for property data, and allow Move to display sold listings on realtor.com. Before FIND, realtor.com only received active listing data to display. Since Trulia and Zillow and others were actively working to collect and display sold data, FIND allowed realtor.com to compete. With FIND, realtor.com can once again occupy the leading position in real estate. The news here is not that REALTORS® have been able to access all data on realtor.com through FIND. Now, to support reciprocal data sharing, the agent in FIND can have direct access to other MLS systems through something called Deep Linking. The first reciprocal data sharing solution using FIND is between iTech MLS in Los Angeles and MetroList Services, Inc. in Sacramento. Those MLSs have an agreement between them to allow access to each others’ systems, and offers of compensation. Since FIND is powered by single sign-on (SSO), agents do not need to remember their password credentials to get into the other system. They simply search on FIND, and if they want to view the MLS listing details, they click the MLS link in FIND and they are ported right in. Where MLSs have a relationship for cooperation and compensation, when an agent looks at a record from another MLS, it will allow that agent to launch into the reciprocal MLS. Today, Rapattoni is the only MLS system that has deployed this. […]

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The Future of Anything

by Victor Lund on May 30, 2013

I would attribute the series of postures on The Future of the MLS to Saul Klein. He may not have been the first to coin the phrase, but he has embraced it and made it his own. It is with due respect that we leave that posturing behind and set forth on a new journey. Our industry is at an inflection point, and my fear is that we are too blinded by current affairs to look beyond the steps in front of us. This morning, I encountered a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery, a French writer, poet, and aviator who lived from 1900 to 1944. I did not take the time to research the setting for the quote, but it really does not matter because I want to use it to frame a new strategy for our industry leaders. “Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.” I pecked out an industry overview of the governance of MLSs earlier this week. You can view it here if you like. I did not expect the flow of phone calls and emails. Apparently there are only a few people that are keenly aware of how different or fractured the governance of MLSs can be in America. Most brokers did not even know the governance of their MLS. It is a strange fog. Lets turn now to the key insights gathered in the rethink program. rethink is an organized effort to modify strategic planning at NAR. Here are the key insights presented at NAR Mid-year. I will provide commentary through the lens of enabling the future. Restructure Data and MLS Systems National MLS Take back REALTOR.com Be the Source for Big Data It would be a far reach for a trade association to morph itself into a data services company. This is the providence of brokers, not associations. Brokers are the group that need to enable the future of the MLS, online advertising, and big data. I would love to write the action plan for this. By the way – the action plan would likely retain local MLSs and REALTOR.com – but change them. Most MLSs and REALTOR.com have extraordinary talents at providing their services. It would be a mistake to restructure data and MLS systems without retaining the experience and talents of those service providers today. The real restructuring that needs to occur is broker involvement in […]

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Move, Inc. logo

MOVE published a release today announcing that Errol Samuelson has been promoted to Chief Strategy Officer, expanding his role at the company. The full press release is below. You may not know that Errol was once part of the most powerful team in real estate. I call them the four horseman  – Errol plus Marty Frame, Prem Luthra, Ben Grabowski. All four have gone on to great success. Marty Frame is a leader at RPR. Prem Luthra is a leader at Real Estate Digital. And, Ben Grabowski is a leader at CoreLogic. They play pivotal roles in four of the largest and most successful companies in real estate technology today. Over the years, Errol and his family have become personal friends of ours. For most people in the real estate industry, I suspect that is true. Beyond his professional stewardship of his responsibilities at MOVE, he is a impassioned supporter of great industry principles. He also surrounds himself with a likeminded team. Kudos Errol! Take a look at the press release below. It outlines a few milestones of his career at MOVE. Errol Samuelson Appointed Move’s Chief Strategy Officer Seasoned leader promoted into newly created role to guide company strategy Apr 4, 2013 12:00pm SAN JOSE, Calif., April 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE) today announced that Errol Samuelson is promoted to Chief Strategy Officer, expanding his role at the company. To capitalize on its strong 2012 results, and to fuel growth and drive sustainable competitive advantage the company created the new role and promoted Samuelson to fill it. “Errol has more than ten years experience with Move and twenty years in technology and real estate,” said Steve Berkowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Move. “He’s worked in both strategic and operational roles. He’s the perfect person for the job. This will be transformational for Move’s employees, customers, partners, and shareholders.” At Move, Samuelson led the team that acquired TigerLead and Relocation.com in 2012, and before that, SocialBios, ListHub, and TopProducer Systems. Through these acquisitions, he helped Move build the most complete set of real estate solutions and publishing tools in the industry, one that also protects the rights and intellectual property of brokers and multiple listing services. For realtor.com, a leader in online real estate operated by Move, Samuelson launched the 2007 program to increase the accuracy of its listings, with most listings now updated every fifteen minutes. He […]

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Zillow brings 1.2M listings out of the shadow

by Victor Lund on October 29, 2012

zillow Logo

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.

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PWR Launches 10K Reports

by Victor Lund on May 13, 2012

PWR Logo Pacific West Association of REALTORS

The Minneapolis Association of REALTORS developed a company called 10K a few years ago. The mission of the company is to offer REALTORS outstanding market analytic reports. They have been canvasing the country offering the product through MLSs and REALTOR Associations. Pacific West Association of REALTORS (PWR) is a large and recent new customer for 10K. WAV Group had a Q&A session with Lalaine Castillo, PWR VP Marketing and Communications to understand the strategy behind their vendor selection. Question:What differentiated 10K from other stats vendors? Answer:10k understands the business of REALTOR associations and our members,  having deployed similar solutions for other associations.  Also, Greg Sax and his staff were great to work with (accommodating, responsive.) Question:How are you deploying the 10K products to members? Answer:Members go to our website, click on the PWReports icon, & enter their username & MLS pw  to gain exclusive access to PWReports Question:What is your communications plan? Answer: Periodic emails explaining value, flyers/handouts through new membership orientation, coverage through local papers (2 papers agreed to allowing PWR be the exclusive provider of market data in our area) and a live demo during our annual Tech Day event.  We are also considering a youtube “training” video, and a live class on how to effectively use the reports. Question:Are there already other solutions within CRMLS? If so, why add another? Answer:Other solutions are either paid solutions, or the data is not readily assembled in a usable format (for example, you’d have to “crunch” data on your own then develop your own spreadsheet or bar chart.) Question:Is this a member benefit? Answer: Yes, PWR will be adding the service without any dues increases Question:How is this different from the CAR-provided solution? Answer:CAR’s “Market at a Glance” Solution covers aggregate data for the entire state of California, where as PWReports gives detailed information on the specific cities & ZIPcodes for PWR’s market area (OC & South LA.) Question:Can agents share any of this publicly in their own marketing? Answer:Yes, agents can use this data on their website, listing presentation, or for reporting purposes. Pacific West REALTORS (PWR) is a local chapter of the National Association of REALTORS active in Orange County and South Los Angles, California.  They are among the largest Associations of REALTORS in Southern California. PWR provides MLS services in cooperation with the California Regional MLS or CRMLS. CRMLS is a participating member of the Southern California […]

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RPR Logo

Every MLS and Broker in the country knows how difficult it is to successfully roll out new products to REALTORS®.  There are so many technology options out there and it’s so difficult to get a busy agent’s attention. It’s even more difficult to convince them to try out a new service that may help project a more professional image when they are in the throes of trying to conduct business. WAV Group has watched Realtor Property Resource® (RPR®) with interest as more and more MLSs and Associations have signed up for this service. From its early beginnings, the product has continued to evolve with more and more tools for REALTOR® members. As of May 6, 2012, 384 MLSs and Associations have signed agreements with RPR, representing 618,914 REALTORS®.  244 have RPR installed and operational for their 503,444 members with more in the review process. While these numbers are impressive, REALTOR® usage and adoption of these products is the ultimate goal. So how can the industry “cross the chasm” from simply providing RPR for its members to actually helping them learn how to use it regularly in their business?  That was the question RPR posed to WAV Group. RPR asked WAV Group to interview some of the early adopters of RPR to build case studies to help the industry understand the key benefits and value of RPR for agents, brokers, and MLSs. With this information in hand, WAV Group set out to build easy-to-understand, focused, and informative case studies to help every agent and broker understand how RPR can help them be more successful in positioning themselves as a local expert.  The case studies being published today provide practical suggestions about how to leverage RPR effectively to impress clients by providing them more insightful and professionally presented data and insights to real estate consumers. The information shared in the case studies came from highly successful REALTORS® who are using RPR to bring more insights to their clients than non-REALTORS® can. Download the RPR “Best Practices” Case Studies here. The purpose of these case studies is to help agents and understand just how easy it is to get up and running with RPR quickly.  It’s also intended to provide MLSs with some practical suggestions about how to engage their members with RPR, helping them understand how RPR offers features and benefits not available in other MLS technology offerings. For the past three days […]

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Great Vendors Embrace Rules

by Victor Lund on November 22, 2011

ListingSyndicationsmall

There has been a lot of conversational concern about companies that enter into new verticals of data management and service offerings. Four such instances were announced this year. REALTORS® Property Resource contracts with LPS for data services and LPS subcontracts to Real Estate Digital. Zillow purchased an IDX vendor, Diverse Solutions. MOVE purchased Threewide, the providers of the popular Listhub syndication service. CoreLogic launched a new appraisal tool leveraging MLS data. In every case, the vendor has been virtuous and adhered to contracts and data use rules. In each of these cases, many feared that data could be misused or abused. But, thus far, there have not been any discoveries of inappropriate behavior.

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Change hurts

by Victor Lund on October 28, 2011

Change Hurts

Perhaps there is a new chief executive, a new business strategy, an MLS conversion, a new product launch, a merger, a new data share, or a dramatically altered competitive landscape, in the real estate world, big change means big risk. In other words, company performance may rise like a rocket or fall like a rock. The only thing it’s not likely to do is stay the same. Change may be inevitable, but big change is scary, nevertheless. And how you deal with it plays a big role in the outcome. In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen big change in the works at some of America’s biggest and most widely followed real estate companies, primarily in the technology industry: Realtor.com decides to allow other agents to generate leads from broker listings. Zillow adds 45,000 for sale by owner listings and immediately jumps to become the #1 property search portal in America. Corelogic purchases Tarasoft and controls around 60% or 70% of all MLS systems. LPS broke into 2 companies spawning Real Estate Digital Listing Syndication is leading to chaos Data Sharing may be evil

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RPR is in good hands with LPS and RED

by Victor Lund on September 15, 2011

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It would seem that some MLSs were a bit concerned about the bifurcation of service being provided to RPR by LPS. According to the announcement, Real Estate Digital, or RED will be continuing to do what that group has always done in terms of data aggregation. Only now, RED will be a subcontractor to LPS. In a letter today, RPR CEO Dale Ross submitted the following: This e-mail is a courtesy message from RPR about the press release issued yesterday from Real Estate Digital (RED), announcing a management buy-out of select assets of LPS Real Estate Group and the formation of a new company. As you may be aware, RPR contracts data aggregation services for the RPR website from LPS. Under this new structure, RPR’s service will continue to be contracted through LPS, which will have an agreement with RED to fulfill LPS’s obligations to RPR. RPR does not have any direct relationship with the new company.

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Real Estate Digital Spins Out of LPS Real Estate Group

by Victor Lund on September 14, 2011

Real Estate Digital

Real Estate Digital (or RED), announced a management buy-out of select assets of LPS Real Estate Group and the formation of the new company. RED, the new privately-held corporation, will focus on the support of 12 core technology products offered to the real estate industry today: rDesk® Websites, rDesk®  CRM, rDesk®  CMA, rDesk®  IDX, Real Estate & Living Media®, reDataVault, TransactionPoint®, DocCentral, FormCentral, Data Aggregation System, Neighborhood and School Reports and MLS Portal. Executive leadership of the company includes current LPS Real Estate Group President Jay Gaskill, CTO John Hensley, CSO Prem Luthra, and CFO Mike Kovar. The company expects to extend its line of services to real estate professionals, brokers, and Associations. “As a result of this management buyout, the company believes that it will be able to provide a more innovative, personalized, and higher-quality service to its customers,” said Prem Luthra. “We expect to be more nimble and have greater latitude to expand our product offerings to this core audience.” According to Luthra, new products will initially focus on expanding the broker platform to be a platform that allows for easy integration with third party companies, mobile real estate automation, and developing additional revenue streams for clients. A “splash page” of the new website will be launched at http://realestatedigital.com. For those of you familiar with LPS Real Estate Group today, it may help you to understand the company division by appreciating that the majority of Olathe, KS people are staying with LPS and the Irvine, CA team will be joining Real Estate Digital, RED. This is not a perfect division, but a nice mental summary. RED will continue to be a leader in Data Aggregation services under their Data Aggregation and RE DataVault platforms, and will be a subcontractor to LPS for Data Aggregation Services provided to RPR (REALTORS® Property Resource). LPS will remain responsible for licensing RPR data to third parties like financial institutions, GSE, insurance, Government, and others. In speaking to the management team, it would seem that RED will be off to a great start.  They are launching the company with mature, stable, well-adopted products; one of the strongest and most experienced management teams in real estate technology; and long-standing and well-developed customer relationships. The company reports that will be immediately profitable. This transaction was a classic management buyout and no underwriting details were made public. What happens to LPS? LPS is a huge and […]

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