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The Dynamics of the Upstream Flywheel
As we approach the new launch of Upstream, we reflect on our path and what has changed to create our renewed momentum. We inevitably reference a flywheel. It's a powerful metaphor that succinctly describes our new partnership with CoreLogic and why 2019 is different.
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MLSs Demand Broker Data Sovereignty
A battle was waged between MLSs and the National Association of REALTORS® against the Library of Congress, who administers copyright in America. For many years, it has been the common practice of MLSs to copyright their data set, referred to as the MLS compilation, each month or each quarter. About a year ago, the copyright office of the Library of Congress continued to receive the copyright applications but stopped issuing copyright numbers.
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The Power of Alignment
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Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
Today, the world recognizes Data Privacy Day. As privacy protection concerns and privacy laws around the world, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California's incoming digital privacy law (the California Consumer Privacy Act), continue to build, we are reminded to be more mindful of data privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust. Let us mark this day by increasing our awareness of data privacy and considering key data privacy practices in our everyday work. Here are some best practices around maintaining privacy and enabling trust to keep in mind and share with your colleagues.
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Upstream Charts New Direction
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TRIBUS Becomes First Broker Platform to Send Solds to Zillow
TRIBUS, a leading provider of custom real estate brokerage platforms, has become the first such vendor in the industry to provide its broker clients with the ability to automatically send all their sold data to online real estate database portal Zillow. These sold listings will automatically be claimed for the correct listing or selling agent immediately after closing.
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MLS Policy: Broker Attribution Back to the Drawing Board
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We Need a 'Common App' for Data Feed Approvals
Sometimes we just make it too hard to do business in real estate. We spend SO much time and energy talking about herculean tasks like statewide consolidation efforts, yet spent so LITTLE time talking about practical, unsexy solutions that can make our lives so much easier. During the broker panel Helping Brokers Compete and Innovate: Broker Panel at the this month's RESO Conference in Milwaukee, we discussed a simple innovation we can deliver in our industry that can make a world of difference in helping brokers get access to real estate information with a lot less hassle! While brokers and their tech partners are looking for easier ways to access the RESO Web API, there are even MORE interested in a way to make the process of gaining data feed approvals easier. Today, every MLS's data feed application is different. In some cases, the information needed to gain approvals is not clearly spelled out and it is extremely difficult to find someone at the MLS to answer questions.
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Fair Listing Attribution
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On Fair Input Guidelines
Mitch Skinner of the law firm Larson Skinner did a wonderful post on their website that drafted a framework around MLS Fair Input Guidelines. This is a major topic for our nation's MLSs and it is time for collaboration and thought leadership. Let me begin by complimenting Skinner on his efforts. If you have not seen the post, you may want to buzz over and look at A Conversation About Fair Input Guidelines before contemplating this article.
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Zillow's Opinion of Upstream and CAR's Forms License Policy Is Obvious
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GDPR Is Not Alone, Personal Data Protection Laws Hit the U.S.
Consumer data protection continues to be a focus for governments after the latest round of data breaches and Facebook allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest its users' data. In a hastily crafted bill, California legislatures and the governor passed AB 375, or the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. There is good reason for hardly anyone noticing this new law; it was fast-tracked through the legislative process within seven days.
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How to Future-proof Your Brokerage
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Enhanced Listings with Upstream
Today's array of property marketing options used by real estate professionals are boundless. For marketing your properties for sale, Upstream provides you with some extended advantages you may need. One key advantage of Upstream is the ability to store and utilize high-resolution photos. For many real estate pros, professional photography distilled through the MLS may be unsatisfactory in resolution for high-quality print (flyers, brochures, magazine ads). Sometimes you may also want high-quality photos without the MLS watermark on them. You and/or your authorized photographers can load the original high-resolution images to all of your marketing platforms. The best part is the easy to use drag and drop functionality and the awesome upload speed.
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5 Key Takeaways in Preparation for the FTC/DOJ Workshop
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GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
It's only been a week since GDPR has become a law and we need to start this week's discussion with a simple question. How many of you thought the GDPR was only about privacy policy change emails and subscription notifications we have received over the last few weeks? Well, that was just the beginning.
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First Upstream Listing in a Direct Input Market Goes Live
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It's Alive! Control Your Data and Your Future with Upstream
We are excited to announce that today we launched Upstream's platform in RMLS (Portland) as Direct Input, and ARMLS (Phoenix) and NTREIS (Dallas) as Broker Direct Feed with CRMLS (California Regional). West Penn (Pennsylvania), Realcomp (southeastern Michigan), ABOR (Austin), Northstar (Minnesota), and Ann Arbor (Michigan) are soon to follow. We plan to continue our expansion, launching in five to six new markets per month. We will now begin to onboard brokerages and their vendors in production markets. Here's how it works:
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Zillow Group Continues Tradition of Showing Consumers FSBO, Other Non-MLS Listings
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CoreLogic Enhances Trestle for Brokers and Matrix Clients
CoreLogic today announced that real estate brokers can now use Trestle to receive listing data feeds from participating multiple listing organizations (MLOs). CoreLogic also announced that clients of its Matrix multiple listing platform can now use Trestle to manage their existing RETS data feeds in addition to RESO platinum-certified data feeds. Trestle is a national data marketplace that solves the fundamental data access problems faced by MLOs and the brokerages and technology providers who receive their data.
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How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
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[Infographic] What Brokers Need to Know About Upstream
Upstream: What is it good for? Absolutely something... but it's the something that many brokers are unclear about. If you're one of those brokers who is unfamiliar with, confused by, or even skeptical of the Upstream project, check out this new explanatory infographic to get a better grasp on what Upstream is and what it can do for your brokerage.
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10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
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Upstream Fixes Many Problems, Not Just One
As a leading consulting firm, WAV Group operates deeply inside the complex technology stacks of MLSs, brokerages, franchises, REALTOR® associations, and technology firms. From this experience, we recognize the pain that these groups face because of the lack of connection between the systems and applications that agents and consumers need. Upstream aims to deliver a better data management foundation for the data that brokers are entrusted for safe handling. Upstream starts with the belief that data is the treasury of real estate brokers, properly managed to support the agents that brokers supervise, and the consumers they have pledged to serve. Not just listing data, but also roster data and consumer data. Today, the broker's data is spread across many systems and formatted in data currencies that do not interact or relate to one another across the broker enterprise. It's piecemeal and incongruent. The target for Upstream is to fix this.
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WAV Group Report: Emerging Data Solutions in Real Estate
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Upstream: First Impressions from the Field
As the Upstream team prepares to go live with Broker Direct Feed, we're still working hard on Direct Input and plan to launch in RMLS and MLSListings soon. Recently, we introduced Upstream to pilot testers in RMLS (Portland) where they input, edited and managed listings. The team conducted three separate sessions with agents, brokers and MLS personnel to test usability, ease of training, and overall satisfaction. As always, transparency has been the Upstream way. In our latest chapter of "Pilot Markets Tell All," we got the scoop on likes, dislikes, and opinions regarding the entire process.
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Upstream's Journey to Production
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No Data Exchange? No More Brokerage.
Data is the currency you will need in order to exist in the very, very near future. The real estate industry won't be able to stick their heads in the sand on this one, especially since the majority of industries are already embracing data with open arms. Many are intensely in love with it. Brokerage data is quickly becoming the soul of the brokerage business that keeps its heart beating and its legs moving. Why this is happening
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MLSs Working Hard to Make Broker IDX Feeds Work Harder
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Zillow Protects Broker Data
WAV Group supports brokers and MLSs in constructing data licensing agreements with users of data records that belong to the broker. When a company like Zillow ingests broker data, like all recipients, they must adhere to the data license agreement, which typically requires that you cannot allow the data to be used by a third party. The blog McMansionHell.com is learning the hard way that using data from Zillow without proper authority is a copyright violation that Zillow will pursue. Not only will Zillow pursue the violation, but they are contractually bound to pursue the violation. The media around the case is a bit confused, so let me try to break it down in layman's terms.
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The Best APIs in Real Estate
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5 Technical Benefits to Upstream
I think that a lot of people are confused about Upstream. Some people think that it is a consumer facing site like the Broker Public Portal/Homesnap. Others think that it is some kind of broker owned MLS. It is none of those things. It is a database for brokers to create, store, and distribute data. For the most part, every large firm and franchise organization is doing this today, but as an industry the process is broken. Every broker who is managing their data is doing it in different ways, and their data is not interoperable with applications without custom integration, data conversion, and data migration. Smaller firms have nothing, or they outsource it to a part time vendor. Upstream fixes all of this by delivering a solution for all brokers that's better built, comes with support, provides security, gives brokers complete control over data access, and is less costly. Moreover, it makes their data a lot more valuable because it can be instantly put to work as easily as turning on a light switch. Upstream is the result of compiling the needs of brokers. The broker industry leaders and technologists developed Upstream to streamline and address inefficiencies that plague each and every one of them. Here are five technology benefits that Upstream provides that have nothing to do with listings:
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Upstream Adjusts and Improves
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Upstream Develops Streamlined Method for Integration
Upstream today announced a "two-way" method of integration with the Multiple Listing Service community at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. In addition to Upstream's current method of integration, with brokers entering property information into the Upstream data base for distribution, Upstream, working with their MLS Advisory Group, has developed an expanded "broker input of choice" model. The teams determined integration and adoption would be facilitated if brokers had a choice on entry location and MLSs could send data to Upstream. The result is a "broker feed" method of integration where brokerages have a "single choice of input." If a brokerage so chooses, they can input listings into their MLS(s) allowing Upstream to receive those listings from the MLS. Participants can continue to enhance their listings (add additional high-res photos, etc.) in Upstream and manage distribution deliberately. "Our objective has always been to solve problems thorough partnerships," said Alex Lange, President and CEO of UpstreamRE. "Brokers can continue to leverage their current workflow while gaining all the enhancement and management features of Upstream. The MLS Advisory group has been instrumental in determining easier ways for the MLS community to engage and integrate with us." The National Association of REALTORS® recognized the partnership and importance of this milestone and announced its continued support of Upstream. It will continue to provide resources through 2018 via support from Realtors® Property Resource (RPR) and additional funding.
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The 6 Things to Look for When Sourcing Quality Data
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Top 3 Tools to Integrate Into Your Back Office
When it comes to real estate software, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Small brokers have different technology needs than large brokers, and franchises have different requirements than independent firms. Rather than relying on one system to handle everything you need, today's brokers look to solutions that can integrate with others to share data. MLS listing data is typically the backbone of all integrations--given the right set-up, this information can flow into your transaction management systems and eliminate the need for repetitive data entry. MLS data can also be used to automatically generate marketing materials for every new listing. There is an almost endless amount of integrations available to brokers across multiple solutions. Today, however, we're going to narrow our focus to integrations with what we consider the backbone of your real estate firm--your back office solution. The 'Trifecta' of Back Office Integrations This article came out of a conversation we had with Andrew Chishchevoy, co-founder of back office solution Brokermint. Although Brokermint integrates with multiple solutions, there are three that they consider the "trifecta" of back office integrations. 1. MLS Integration - This is the core integration of any back office or transaction management system. When MLS data freely flows into the solution you use, you can save time and payroll by eliminating redundant data entry, and ensure that all listing/transaction data is accurate. For example, once a listing is entered into the MLS, a transaction is immediately created in Brokermint and agents and administrators can start uploading documents immediately. Depending on the back office solution you use, agents are assigned to a new transaction immediately, based on the listing data from the MLS. If your back office solution has a commission management component, a default commission structure may be added to the transaction, as well.
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Upstream Is Already an Awesome Tool for Brokerage Firms
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The RESO Revolution: Brokers Win Big with Data-compliant Vendors
The real estate industry is on the verge of revolutionary technological innovation—and achieving optimal benefits rests largely on the motivation of brokers and agents. By now, about 90 percent of all MLSs are compliant with the data standards set out by the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), which, in the words of WAV Group Founding Partner and RESO consulting member Victor Lund, is "one of the most collaborative industry-wide efforts we have ever seen" to reduce redundancy and replication of real estate information sharing. The resulting increase in efficiency will benefit brokers and agents directly through their technology vendors. Indeed, brokers and agents need their vendors need to be compatible with RESO data standards in order to be competitive now and in the future. For an industry driven by information, the continued adoption of RESO data standards will deliver brokers and agents more up-to-date and secure content from their MLS. In a nutshell, the standardization of fields for information that is transferred from the MLS to the applications that industry professionals use every day will mean that all the technology tools 'speak' the same language, without errors, redundancy, and complications caused by breaks in old-school data mapping. For broker and agents, access to the best information available can be at your fingertips—but only if your vendors get on board with the technological tide. By engaging vendors that are RESO certified, brokers and agents will also be positioned to reduce costs associated with their technology solutions. The most popular RESO-compliant way of data transport to vendors is the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS), or "mirrors" of data based on a common dictionary of terms. In effect, it enables synchronized data for easy digital transfer to vendor products used by real estate professionals.
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The Drive Toward Data Standards Organization
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Upstream Nominated for Real Estate Innovation Award
UpstreamRE™, a collaborative venture between real estate brokerages, has been nominated for the coveted Inman Innovator Award. The Inman News Innovator Awards are given each year to recognize and celebrate industry innovation and accomplishments. Over the past year, Upstream has been forging forward and capturing Inman News headlines with the nomination of their Board of Managers, selecting Realtors Property Resource® as their vendor, and hiring industry veteran Alex Lange as president and CEO, and announcing the Alpha launch of the application in their first five MLS markets: MLS Listings of San Jose and Northern California, NorthstarMLS in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, RMLS of Portland metropolitan area, West Penn MLS of Pittsburg covering northern Pennsylvania, and North Texas Regional Information Systems of Dallas and central Texas. Upstream is a data management solution jointly owned by real estate brokerages that operate like a cooperative.  Robert Moline, Upstream Chairman of the Board, recently address the real estate industry leadership at the National Association of REALTORS® midyear meetings where he explained, "Essentially, Upstream is a database of all kinds of real estate related data that goes far beyond a listing data set. Upstream allows single entry into one place and enables brokers full control of distribution of all the expanded data." Inman News cites Upstream as an example of the real estate industry finally disrupting itself instead of being disrupted by outsiders. As brokers succeed in better managing their data as an asset, it opens the doors wide to future opportunities to best serve the real estate home buyer and seller.
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RESO Fielding Survey to Learn How to Make MLS Data Work Better for Brokers
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Upstream: Our Own Manhattan Project
In 1939, American intelligence already knew that Nazi Germany had learned the secrets of splitting the atom. By early 1940, still a year before America entered the war, and despite the impact of negative voices, concerns relative to the potential dangers of this research had reached the highest levels of the American government. Despite what we now understand was common sense, it took advocates an amazing level of energy, time and effort to find someone in the government who was willing to listen to and believe the potential dangers represented by what became known as the "Atomic Threat." By late 1941, driven by President Roosevelt's passion, America had launched a full effort to understand, design and build the World's first atomic weapon. At the beginning of 1942, these diverse efforts were combined into what became known as the Manhattan Project, one of the greatest administrative innovations in American history. Because it represented something new and innovative there were, from the very beginning, endless delays and challenges until the Manhattan Project was formally adopted. As is still the case today, projects that represent a step in a new direction are bound to run into interference commensurate with the level of anticipated disruption it is likely to cause. By the time the Manhattan project was completed, over 130,000 workers had been employed and over $260 million 2016 dollars had been expended. But numbers alone do not constitute guarantees.
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[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
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The RESO 2015 Fall Conference: Green Data, Broker Standards Adoption, and more
Over 300 Tweets and 836,914 impressions--those are the social media stats for the RESO 2015 Fall Conference. Though just a handful of people were behind those Tweets, the #RESO15 hashtag offered an incredibly informative look into the conference activities. We followed the hashtag for the entire three days that the conference took place. Day 1 saw the U.S. Department of Energy talking about how to incorporate energy data in listing information. Day 2 offered a flurry of activity, including talk of how to brokers to adopt Data Dictionary standards. Our co-founder, Marilyn Wilson, even hosted a broker panel discussion entitled, "How RESO Standards enables innovation for the new brokerage models." To keep you in the loop on conference activities, we followed the hashtag on Twitter and curated the event's best Tweets. Follow along with the conference in the 140-character posts below. * * * Day 1 RESO - DoE has 5 Accelerator Pilots @RMLSweb, @IRESLLC, @MREDLLC , @MRIS_REal_News and the NE energy efficiency partnership #BigData #RESO15 RESO - DoE mentions the feeds coming from @HomesDotCom as part of the #realestate industry's energy accelerator initiative #RESO15 #BigData RESO - DoE focused on RESO Data Dictionary to help define a new kind of Green fields - Green Verification Fields #greeneconomy #BigData #RESO15 RESO - During DoE workshops: Will Energy Score adoption be resisted by #realestate agents as some listings will have low scores? #BigData #RESO15 RESO - @kmalyala suggestion at DoE meeting re: low score homes: Give buyers a game plan to improve now, up future value later #RESO15 #BigData
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Upstream Agent Record
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Turn Big Data Into Big Dollars
There are so many tools for collecting data available to real estate brokers today, that it can be difficult to choose the right ones and then get them to all work together. Here are some products and resources for brokers interested in new ways of capturing data, analyzing it, and making decisions on how it will be most effectively used to increase profitability. Gathering Data Most of the data we're looking for as brokers must focus on potential customers. Whether they're new leads or past clients, we look for ways to predict who is the most likely person to buy or sell a home. We can buy this data or build it. Many brokers just use a list of every home in their local neighborhood, zip code, or area. They send mailers and postcards to everyone, without much strategy. It may have a slight return on investment, but it's certainly not optimal. Rebogateway and Smartzip are two companies that can enhance that ROI. Instead of mailing materials to everyone in your city, these companies allow you to view different tracts within the area and find which areas are turning over faster. For example, if West Seattle is your market, but zip code 98136 turns over every five years and zip code 98126 turns over every 12 years, then it's time to point more of your marketing at 98136. After identifying those tracts, the broker can make more strategic decisions about which part of town to focus advertising dollars.
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Listing Integration: The Possibilities Are Endless
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Stand By For Position RPR Verification
Last month, we reviewed the down to earth business intelligence and guidance provided to the brokerage community by a recent series of industry conferences renown for the depth of their research and the accuracy of their presentations. In preparation for this month's information, you are requested to immediately climb to 55,000 feet for a more extended view of the circumstances that will be impacting, if not controlling, your businesses and marketplace moving forward. The events of Saturday, May 16th will, in all likelihood, impact the operation of your business more than any other single day in recent history. This is, of course, a reference to the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors meeting held in Washington, D.C. and the positive vote taken in support of NAR's partnership with Project Upstream as well as the funding of both Project Upstream and AMP (Advanced Multi-List Platform). The following comments benefit generously from comments made by Dale Ross, the uber gifted RPR CEO. The partnership between NAR and UpstreamRE, LLC will leverage the RPR technology platform to develop a new data management service for brokers known as Project Upstream. The events of May 16th culminated several months of extensive discussions between the leaders of many of the nation's largest brokerages, franchise networks and NAR. They created a significant opportunity for the industry to leverage and take advantage of RPR's five-year investment in data and technology. In light of the importance of these events, additional clarification may be necessary. It is common knowledge within the industry that NAR, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Realtors Property Resource®, has, over the past five years, invested millions of dollars into what may be the finest real estate database ever created. It is also widely known in the industry that RPR's first attempt, in 2010, to bring the benefits of this database to its REALTOR® constituents was something less than successful. Even today, five years later, our ever-present industry observers--many of whom have no claim to creativity or innovation--continue to rave on about this early shortfall.
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What Are APIs and Why Do They Matter?
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Are You Maximizing Your Listing Data?
It's long been the practice of brokerages to use technology that pulls MLS listing information and then use that data in their applications. For example, you may have a vendor that downloads MLS data for IDX websites, transaction management, virtual tours, syndication to third parties, and even for generating property flyers. All of this downloading can create a data management nightmare. The problem with using so many different data-driven solutions is that each application is being updated by different vendors at different times. This adds a layer of unwelcome complexity to your business productivity. Your agents and your staff are manipulating your listing information in multiple applications, each containing a different version of data. When the data is not the same in every tool, agents distrust the application and fail to adopt it. However, companies are beginning to rethink their approach to data management by consolidating MLS data integration through a single source. There are a few back office solutions that have taken this approach that are used by brokerages across North America today. Real Estate Digital, AgentAchieve from CoreLogic and, notably, Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies' Complete Enterprise Solution are all examples of solutions that have taken this single MLS integration philosophy to heart. For an overview of Lone Wolf's approach, see the video below:
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Major Changes In Real Estate
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How Do Your Brokerage's Listings Perform on Zillow?
Any type of advertising or promotional effort that brokers undertake should provide some measure of return on investment (ROI). Depending on the type of promotion, the way you measure ROI will vary. In the case of sending listings to portals, there are two primary returns you receive on your investment. The first and most important is that you're delivering on a promise you have made to a seller who expects their listing to be marketed to the widest possible audience, leveraging sites like Zillow and Trulia. The second return is the reach or engagement your listing is getting on those websites. The truth is that brokers don't really care that Zillow gets 86 million visitors per month1. Instead, the relevant metric is how many people engage with your brokerage's listings. To provide brokers insight into this key area Zillow Group, operator of the two leading real estate sites according to comScore2, unveiled a dashboard in January to brokers who send a direct data feed to Zillow Group sites, either through their MLS or directly from their brokerage or franchise. As a broker, the Zillow Group Data Dashboard lets you measure the performance of your listings on Zillow, including the total number of times their listings appear in search results, the number of times listings were viewed, and the number leads delivered to your brokerage from your listings.
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ListHub/Zillow Divorce Stimulates Discussion
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[Video] Are Competitors Eating Your Lunch?
Are competing brokerages getting leads off your listings? You may want to look at your systems and processes. But if you run an otherwise tight ship, it's probably time to think about what's happening with your listings online. The online listing landscape is shifting rapidly, though. With the looming termination of ListHub's relationship with Zillow and Trulia, brokers and MLSs are looking at alternatives to syndication to get their listings to portals. One of those methods is direct data feeds. On Wednesday, we hosted a panel discussion of four industry experts to explore the ins and outs of direct-to-portal listing feeds. If you weren't able to attend the event, you catch what you missed via the recording below:
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Broker Best Practices for Avoiding Listing Delay and Inaccurate Data
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The Right and Wrong of Broker Data
There is a lot of confusion about real estate listing data today. I believe that the confusion is the cause of agitation that pits technology companies, consumers, real estate agents, pundits, MLSs, franchises, and associations of REALTORS against one another. For many, there is a belief that the listing data is free and access should be provided to all. The reality is that the listing data is legally bound to the real estate listing broker who is the custodian and responsible party for that data. Being a custodian, or the responsible party, has nearly boundless latitude and altitude. Today's real estate broker can do pretty much whatever they want with their data, subject to state and federal laws. The actions or permissions for data use are measured by the individual broker's choices of privacy and values. The data is their asset, and how they treat that asset is their choice. What is really great about America is that in any given market, there is wide stratification of broker data management values. If anything, I would suggest that the pendulum is leaning toward uncontrolled and highly permissive use rather than tightly managed restricted use. An emerging trend in real estate is a growing attitude among the nation's leading MLSs that the data belongs to the broker. There are two well-structured categories of data: MLS services that allow participants and subscribers the right to share listing data for certain purposes. Those purposes fall into three categories: MLS purposes accessed in the MLS system; IDX services for consumer display of another firm's listing; and VOW services for virtual office client servicing. Supporting the broker with the management of the data they own and control. Effectively, in this second category, the MLS provides the firm with their data in a clean and updated format via a data feed or API to use as they wish.
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Broker AVMs (Part 3): The Realty Alliance's Position
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Broker AVMs
One of the core services of brokerages and their agents is pricing property. In the olden days, it was less scientific than it is right now. On an individual property, agents deliver CMAs or BPOs. Today, using MLS data, brokers are now automating their services. Sometimes this service is called Automated Valuation Modeling, or AVMs. There is a healthy and robust marketplace for AVMs in the financial services industry. Banks want to know the debt-to-equity ratio on homes they hold mortgages on. They also want to use AVMs as a method to validate home appraisals. Government uses AVMs to make monetary policy surrounding affordable housing and interest rates. Of course, the government also wants to make sure that their sponsored entities like Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac are making healthy loans. Insurance companies want to use AVMs to calculate property insurance rates and claims. Investment analysts use AVMs as a measure of the health of the real estate market that correlates to an exhaustive set of predictors on where stock prices are going for both individual companies, as well as sectors of companies. Largely speaking, brokers have been cut out of this marketplace. Historically, the financial services industry has been fed AVMs that are based upon public record data. As industry experts understand, public record data lags behind MLS data by weeks or even months. Moreover, the detail of the property tax record is simple, and does not take detailed housing features into account. The National Association of REALTORS® worked with the federal government and other entities after the housing crisis to point out that using active listing data in monitoring the health of the real estate industry would have allowed them to "see" the housing bubble as the number of for sale homes in the MLS swelled, and along with it – days on market and wider gaps in list-to-sell ratios.
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Broker AVMs (Part 2): Previous NAR Policy Guidance
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Can MLS Brokers Build AVMs Using Data of Other Brokers?
In May, NAR will be discussing a policy proposal that originates with The Realty Alliance (TRA). You can read TRA's open letter to NAR here on The Realty Alliance website. At issue in TRA's letter is this position: "TRA believes current NAR MLS Policy already permits MLS Participants to use MLS data to create AVMs using third-party software and deliver the AVM results to financial institution end users for a fee separate from any brokerage commission that may be earned on the sale of the subject property. Since the use of MLS data for this purpose is a permitted use under NAR's MLS Policy, MLSs subject to that Policy cannot effectively deny MLS Participants the ability to engage in this permitted use of MLS data by refusing Participants and their technology service providers to use the MLS' VOW data feed to create the AVMs." In other words, in TRA's view, NAR should require that MLSs provide data feeds to MLS participants to allow them to build AVMs for sale to third parties. Over the next couple weeks, I plan to do four blog posts addressing this issue (not counting this one): Summary of current policy based on NAR responses to inquiries we made last summer and fall. Examination of TRA's letter. Examination of NAR's proposed policy language, when it becomes available. Some thoughts about the proposed policy.
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How Data Killed the REALTOR®
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Use Consumer Data as a Marketing Tool
Real estate has a lot of data. Every day, MLSs process 1 billion data records and 100 million photos. Acxiom has more data. Acxiom is one of the many companies that supply businesses with consumer marketing data. They just launched a new website so that consumers can see the data that has been collected. The website is AboutTheData.com. You can create an account and it will display everything that they have collected about you. They collect the amount of money you make, your credit card purchases, the rate of purchases made online vs. offline, marital status, family size, number of children, housing status, your age and the age of your spouse and children, and lots more. You can opt out. Acxiom believes that consumers should have access to the information that is collected about them. Through AboutTheData.com, you may log in to view your information. You may even make corrections to it. Their belief is that consumers will benefit by receiving better offers if they collaborate with Acxiom to improve data quality. Of course, you may also opt-out. If you do not want your consumer profile shared with marketers, you can let them know.
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Privacy and The Real Estate Process
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Aggregators, Realtor.com® Hot Topics at Broker Conference
Guest contributor Meg White of REALTOR®Mag says: Weeks after the National Association of REALTORS®' board of directors voted to give realtor.com® more flexibility in the properties it posts on its site, the issues surrounding listing data and real estate aggregation sites are still hot topics among brokers. The concerns of this segment of the association's membership were on full display at NAR's Real Estate Broker's Conference, held in Chicago Aug. 7 and 8. A session focused on "remaining relevant in the new age of real estate" featured two power brokers from different parts of the country: Sherry Chris, CEO of New Jersey-based Better Homes & Gardens, and John P. Horning, executive vice president of Wisconsin-based Shorewest, REALTORS®. Session moderator Robert J. Bailey, co-broker-owner of Bailey Properties Inc. in Santa Cruz, Calif., recalled a time when real estate brokers were "the keepers of information." "We clutched an MLS book to our chest," Bailey said. "Well, our role is evolving." Chris quipped that her institutional memory reaches back before MLS books, to the days of "tear sheets." "Back then, we were clearly the gatekeepers of information," Chris said. "[But] everything has turned upside down... Our role is shifting in this industry." NAR's board of directors voted July 24 to modify the association's operating agreement with realtor.com® to allow the site to display currently unlisted new homes, rentals, and listings from entities that are not REALTOR®-owned and controlled, as well as from brokers who are not REALTORS®.
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Questions to ponder
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Is Data Scraping Taking Money from Brokers’ Pockets? Realtor.com’s Curt Beardsley Says, ‘Yes’
Data scraping and misuse of listing data that belongs to brokers are growing concerns. Many scrapers (or others who receive the data legitimately but use it in ways that violates its licenses) are actively reselling listing data for various uses not intended by brokers, such as statistical or financial reporting. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Curt Beardsley, vice president of consumer and industry development at Move, Inc., a leader in online real estate and operator of realtor.com®. Beardsley shared his thoughts on the proliferation of data scraping, the grey market for data, and how brokers can protect their data from unintended uses. Reva Nelson: How are scrapers using the listing data once they scrape it? Curt Beardsley: The listing data's first and foremost value is as an advertisement to get the property sold, and to promote the agent and broker. That value is clear and fairly simple. But the second value is not as clearly defined, which is all the ancillary ways this data can be used, such as for statistical reporting, valuation, marketing of relevant services, targeted mailing lists – that is beyond the original purpose of the listing, which is to present information to consumers and other agents to facilitate the sale of the property. Banks and other entities are eager to get hold of that data because it lets them know who will be up for a mortgage, who will be moving, who will be potentially needing services, etc. People who are selling homes offer a prime marketing opportunity since they may need movers, packing materials, storage, etc. There is a vast grey market for this data. RN: Given that the users of this data aren't even in the real estate industry, why should brokers be concerned about this issue? CB: If your license agreements aren't clear, that whole other world gets fed and is living on this data. It is taking money out of the broker's pocket. The leaks are taking money away in two different ways. First, if this marketplace could be created, it's a revenue stream. Brokers could be making money off of this. Second, they lose control of the leaked data. Brokers are losing control of their brand, and the way that listing is being monetized and displayed. Consumers are agitated when they keep connecting to their agents with homes that are not really for sale. A lot of it is wrong. Agents are paying for leads on homes that went off the market months ago. As a broker, that's a brand problem.
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Stemming the Tide of Data Misappropriation
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Cloud Storage and Sharing Work in the Digital Age
In today's digital age, business cannot afford to be down for longer than mere seconds. What happens when not everyone works out of the same office but the flow of work still needs to continue? From stage right enters Cloud Storage, with the ability to upload data to a web based server and access that data from virtually any computer, smartphone or tablet. There are an increasing number of services starting up for cloud based storage and, at times, it can be difficult to tell which is better. Explaining the differences and similarities is what we at My Computer Works are prepared to do for you. Here's a quick break down and a chart comparing three services. Dropbox - As one of the simplest and longest running tools, Dropbox is a great for those looking for direct file access across multiple computers. With the added Facebook access, Dropbox is a great addition for those looking to share content on a social media outlet. Google Drive - Unique file format support, like Autocad and Adobe, drives a different experience. It's difficult for Google Drive to not be a viable option for anyone, from saving presentations and important documents to small business use. Microsoft Skydrive - Still in its early stages, Skydrive is expected to be an improved service over Google Drive. With Microsoft Web apps, similar sharing settings, simultaneous editing and a starting storage size of 7 GB, Skydrive is an excellent choice for small business owners, as well as the average user looking to maintain individual or group projects.
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Point2 encourages publishers to play nice
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Contagion is a New Word for Brokers
If you spent much time around me, you would know that I get attached to words like "curate" and use them so frequently that it annoys the good people who are around me every day. I am working on that. I have been a student of the effort to develop, to launch, and to save the Euro. A currency sharing standard among nations is more serious, and more important than a data sharing standard. However, in many ways, real estate data sharing standards are analogous. I love some of the terminology used by economists and leaders to talk about the Euro. One word that hit my radar today is "contagion." Contagion Spread of a disease by physical contact Harmful influence Spread of feeling Contagion, in the context of the Euro, relates to how currency management by some currency sharing countries like Greece, Spain, or France may pass along a detrimental virus to other currency sharing countries, like Germany. Contagion, in the context of real estate data, may relate to how data sharing standards by some brokers may spread a detrimental virus to other brokers.
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MOVE Launches the Real Estate Network for Franchises
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The Realities of Working with MLS Data
Guest contributor Chris Freeman of WolfNet Technologies says: A couple years ago, I spoke at the Inman Connect real estate conference, in a session titled, “MLS Hell: Coping with Data Normalization in an Abnormal Industry.” From the title of the session alone, one can get a sense of the direction in which it went. WolfNet, being an IDX provider to the real estate industry, currently works with approximately 350 different MLSs, importing MLS data directly from each of the respective MLSs and making it searchable on the web for our Realtor clients. Other than a handful of MLSs which have merged, and two MLSs which share the same data format, all of the property data imports are completely different. RETS, the Real Estate Transaction Standard (www.rets.org), as the name implies is a set of standards to which all MLSs make their information available to the real estate industry. Although the advent of RETS has been an improvement over the former method of FTPing flat data files, it has not resolved the primary issues of different data, data types and definitions between MLSs. Ideally: RETS would make vendors’ data import scripts all the same All MLSs would use the same version of RETS All MLSs would use the same data column names and data types All MLS rules and regulations would be the same All MLSs would provide documentation for their data and data access All MLSs would notify vendors of changes before they occur RETS organization would provide very strong guidelines and recommendations We would have peace on Earth
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A Closer Look at reDataVault by LPS
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Product Review: Immobel’s Multi-Language Website IDX and REAL-Buzz
Although we set out to write a review of Immobel’s Multi-Language IDX Translation, a look at REAL-Buzz was inevitable. Thus, our review covers both. Many REALTORS® who invest in IDX translation to market to global buyers will also choose to participate in the (free) REAL-Buzz.com portal.
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