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, […]
Although Real Estate Digital is a new brand in the real estate industry, the management and owners of the company are industry vetrans whose consumer website prowess dates back to the first consumer property search solutions. Real Estate Digital was formed when former LPS company executives formed the new company with assets acquired from LPS early in the fourth quarter of 2011. Since Real Estate Digital began standing on its own, they have shown a remarkable, albeit somewhat predictable ability to transition customers over to the new company and continue the growth of the products under their new brand (THINK FIDELITY TO FNIS TO FNRES TO CYBERHOMES TO LPSVCS to Real Estate Digital = LOTS OF EXPERIENCE CHANGING BRANDS BRANDS). Earlier this year they announced an expansion of an agreement to provide MLS Consumer web services to CRMLS; the nation’s largest MLS with an estimated 70,0000+ members. The new website lives under the homeseekers.com domain name. Today, Real Estate Digital announced that they will be building a new MLS consumer website for the Long Island Board of REALTORS and Multiple Listing Service. The strategic positioning behind an MLS consumer facing website is to provide REALTORS and brokers with a direct connection to the consumer beyond their own websites. Many MLSs believe that publishing listing on the MLS website is the purest form of listing syndication beyond member websites. MLSLI is among the three largest Boards of REALTORS in the United States – this is another big win for Real Estate Digital – congratulations! At the core of their succes seems to be the combination of a website with the REALM advertising platform. This winning combination allows MLSs to offer a consumer facing website that provides revenue back to the MLS to fund other MLS member benefits or reduce member dues. Our understanding is that only MLS Listings in California’s Silicon Valley has a competitive offering to REALM today. Jim Harrison, CEO of MLS Listings says ,”we built our own ad network in 2011 and plan to partner with other MLSs to expand the network in 2012.” WAV Group has recently published a paper for .MLS Domain regarding consumer interest in MLS consumer facing websites, adding to this long list of mls consumer website articles and reports. Here is a complete list of Real Estate Digital products courtesy of RE Technology. Here is Contact Information to Real Estate Digital courtesy of RE Technology. […]
LPS, developers of the Paragon MLS system, announced that they have secured an agreement to replace a competitors’ MLS system with Paragon 5. This only happens about 12 times each year. The news is less about just getting a win, but tells a larger story about the future of MLS and how one MLS vendor is positioning for long term success. WAV Group performs upwards of 40 MLS customer satisfaction surveys each year to help MLSs understand what agents and brokers expect from their MLS. The number one complaint is Apple compatibility and Mobile compatibility. LPS knew this many years ago (when they were called FNIS or FNRES), and had the guts to invest more than $1Million into rewriting their entire application to meet customer demand. Taking on such a project is not for the faint of heart. It requires developing new software that feels the same as legacy software – like making a new car feel like the old car they know in love. Many things are in the same place – the lights, the breaks, the radio, etc – everything is where long-term Paragon users expect them to be. It was this thoughtful reconstruction that allowed more than 200 MLSs to move seamlessly from Paragon 4 to Paragon 5. Typically, any conversion – including from same system to same system causes an uprising. But in this unique case, MLSs heard more thank yous than hate yous.
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.
The predominant buzz in real estate this week was focused on successful and unsuccessful buyouts. On the successful side of buyouts, a talented team of managing executives from LPS was able to complete a buyout of non-MLS products and form a new company called RED, an acronym for Real Estate Digital. In a more straightforward buyout, CoreLogic purchased MLS provider Tarasoft, rolling that system under their Marketlinx brand. On the unsuccessful side of buyouts, the Arizona State Association of REALTORS was unsuccessful in its bid to purchase the shares of ARMLS, its first leg in a course to develop a statewide MLS. Although it may be a stretch of the imagination, there is a synthesis among these transactions. We see that there are three ideological philosophies that are becoming more defined in real estate, each represented by one of these buyouts: The Broker/MLS-centric ideology; The MLS-centric ideaology; the State Association-Centric ideaology.
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.
Transfers Products to Newly-Formed Real Estate Digital (RED), and Enters into a Joint Marketing Agreement with RED. In an effort to expand its commitment to and focus on the MLS market, LPS has merged its MLS business unit into LPS Applied Analytics and has sold a number of its real estate products to Real Estate Digital, LLC (RED), with whom LPS entered into a joint marketing agreement. This new alignment will enable LPS MLS Solutions to expand and streamline its current offerings to enhance MLS solutions and better serve our customers and their clients. “Our assimilation into LPS Applied Analytics is great news for our customers and their members,” said Rich Lull, SVP, LPS MLS Solutions. “First, we have opened up our MLS systems to rapidly deploy innovative technology and services for our MLS members, as demonstrated with the recent version 5 release of our Paragon MLS System. Second, there is no greater demand from MLS’s, their stakeholders, and their members than for insightful intelligence into the value and risks of a real estate transaction to ensure the agent is ‘relevant and valuable’, hence our excitement to leverage the data and analytic assets of LPS Applied Analytics. Lastly, MLS’s need to augment their membership-based revenue model with programs to generate non-dues revenue, for which we will leverage the Applied Analytics products, as well as the products provided through our agreement with RED and other industry-leading third parties,” said Lull.