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The Risk-Free Way to Get Upstream Before Everybody Else
I'd like to tell you about two competing brokerages. They were similar in size, both operated in multiple MLSs, and both had teams. From the outside, they were very much alike. Internally, however, was an entirely different story. The first brokerage struggled with operational expenses affecting their company dollar. Each time they hired a new agent, it took hours to enter their profile into the back office systems, intranet, and order business cards, set up their software and tools, etc. If an agent left, there wasn't an easy way to remove their access from all tools, resulting in unauthorized access and paying for unneeded licenses.
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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
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The Power of Alignment
​Today, we officially announced our partnership with CoreLogic replacing RPR as our vendor. We are excited to make this announcement and about the future of this initiative. We've been working closely with CoreLogic for almost six months to ensure everyone is aligned on Upstream's promise to the brokers—a promise to provide brokers with better tools to exercise their fiduciary duty to protect and control their firm and client's data.
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Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
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Upstream Charts New Direction
UpstreamRE, LLC, owners of Upstream, the comprehensive real estate brokerage data management project created by a broad-based industry coalition, is finalizing an agreement with a new vendor to power the brokerage data platform. As a result, UpstreamRE, LLC, has amicably agreed to part ways with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Realtors Property Resource (RPR), its wholly-owned subsidiary and Upstream's technology development vendor. After the release of the system earlier this year, discussions began between the leadership of NAR and the leadership of UpstreamRE, LLC, to allow Upstream to take a different approach in 2019 and to allow NAR and RPR to focus on its new strategic initiatives, which have changed since the agreement with Upstream was signed years ago.
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TRIBUS Becomes First Broker Platform to Send Solds to Zillow
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MLS Policy: Broker Attribution Back to the Drawing Board
This is great news! Multiple Listing Issues and Policy Committee voted to send the Broker Attribution policy change recommendation back for another look. It's an impressive move based on a recommendation by the NAR leadership during the Committee meeting. Why the recommendation for policy change?
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We Need a 'Common App' for Data Feed Approvals
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Fair Listing Attribution
by Andy Woolley, Vice President of Industry Development, Homes.com The National Association of REALTORS is considering changes to the Multiple Listing Service policy, related to the display of listing broker attribution when MLS listing data is displayed through IDX, VOW, and in syndication with third-party entities and individuals. Homes.com believes that each display of a listing should include prominent credit and attribution to the source of the listing. Such attribution should include brokerage name, contact information, and, when desired by the brokerage, a link to the display of the listing on the brokerage website.
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On Fair Input Guidelines
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Zillow's Opinion of Upstream and CAR's Forms License Policy Is Obvious
I have been reading articles about Zillow Group's positioning on Upstream and the forms licensing policy of the California Association of REALTORS® with great interest. My take away is that Zillow Group is doing and saying exactly what they should be doing and saying to positively impact Zillow's market opportunities in real estate. Remember, Zillow has industry relations people and government relations people that want to fight tooth and nail for every advantage they can get. It's business. Without Property Listings, Zillow Dies
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GDPR Is Not Alone, Personal Data Protection Laws Hit the U.S.
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How to Future-proof Your Brokerage
I'm sure you've seen in the press that Upstream has launched. So what? What does that mean to you? ​It means you have access to one of the most instantly valuable broker platforms in the country. It's your data. It's one of your brokerage's most valuable assets. And your data is critical to your current and future business. That's why every vendor and portal wants it.
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Enhanced Listings with Upstream
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5 Key Takeaways in Preparation for the FTC/DOJ Workshop
When Daniel Castro from the Internet Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) took the stage at Inman in New York on January, we all thought he was going to provide an academic view of our industry and provide us with some food for thought. What we didn't know was that he was going to tell us how the consumer needs open data because we have somehow been holding back on them. We also didn't know at the time that the ITIF had been promoting Zillow for many years. Castro published an article on the Federal Government's Economic and Statistics Administration website featuring a promotional video from Zillow in 2015 entitled, "Open Data Impact: How Zillow Uses Open Data to Level the Playing Field for Consumers." The contentious conversation that begin at the Inman Data Track got me thinking about all of the ways that the industry supports open data for use by brokers of all types, technology companies – both start-ups and well-established leaders – and, of course, the consumer.
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GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
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First Upstream Listing in a Direct Input Market Goes Live
Upstream is very excited to announce that the first listing entered into production in a Direct Input market went live Wednesday, May 23 at 12:47 PT! Stephanie Coats with Keller Williams Eugene & Springfield entered her listing, 2491 Meridian Dr, Woodburn, OR, into Upstream as the RMLS and Upstream teams watched it move into RMLS.
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It's Alive! Control Your Data and Your Future with Upstream
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Zillow Group Continues Tradition of Showing Consumers FSBO, Other Non-MLS Listings
Since its early days, Zillow Group has maintained a position that consumer interest is best served by allowing listings from many sources, including For Sale By Owner, to be posted to their site. This may be, in part, why Zillow sites had 187 million unique visitors last year. Recently, WAV Group noticed a new type of broker support that is in line with this policy.
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CoreLogic Enhances Trestle for Brokers and Matrix Clients
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How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance crisscrosses every business in the real estate industry. Yes, it's another acronym and it is not tech driven. Well, almost not tech driven. Citizens from countries outside of the US are serious about protecting their personal privacy. Every time I've had data conversations with my European colleagues, they constantly stress how important it is to protect personal information. While an important concern for us, most US citizens and companies are fairly indifferent on who we give access to our personal information. What happens with our personal data afterward is entirely out of our control. We only hope it is secure from access by hackers – meaning those who steal data and misuse it for personal gain. As we saw recently with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – just like our EU colleagues – maybe US citizens should request to have more control over their personal data in the digital world. To learn more about GDPR and its impact, read "How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate" white paper.
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[Infographic] What Brokers Need to Know About Upstream
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10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
You've most likely heard about the recent news in the industry calling to question the safety of your personal contacts, sphere, leads or other data that belongs to your real estate business. The security and integrity of your personal sphere and its corresponding data in many ways is the core of your business and repeat business. Many tech platforms expect you to freely hand over your private sphere data in order to use their solutions. And there lies the question: How safe is your data when you hand it over?
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Upstream Fixes Many Problems, Not Just One
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WAV Group Report: Emerging Data Solutions in Real Estate
WAV Group is excited to contribute this report on Emerging Data Solutions in Real Estate. There is so much activity happening across the industry that it is hard to keep all of it straight. This report is written as an overview for real estate executives. There is a little bit of technical reporting to help understand some of the fine differences in some emerging data solutions that seem to be quite similar. This paper aims to deepen the understanding of how broker listing and agent data is entered, stored, and transported. We cover the history of evolution from early data transportation using File Transfer Protocol (FTP), to the development of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) and now the emergence of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Each of these steps has allowed the real estate industry to leap forward in supporting the needs of our professionals and the consumers they serve. APIs are changing everything today because they allow software systems to share information and talk to each other in meaningful ways.
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Upstream: First Impressions from the Field
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Upstream's Journey to Production
"​If it weren't for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song." - Carl Perkins ​​It's been an exciting journey navigating the uncertain waters of legacy systems, disparate industry interests, fiefdoms, incentives and "wives' tales" to bring Upstream to life. There were times it felt like we needed to brace ourselves for Class 5 rapids. But I realize the excitement is just beginning as we prepare to put Upstream into production. Upstream started differently than traditional start-ups. It wasn't two people sitting in a garage with a unique idea trying to figure out how to build, market, sell and scale it. The catalyst was escalating frustration. The troubling inefficiencies and data control issues had been around for years, but they seemed to get more expensive, the liabilities greater and the ability for a brokerage to capitalize on their data increasingly "watered down." It was a frustration great enough for competitors across the country to collaborate on a solution. The founders wanted to remove the inefficiencies and expense of operating in a patchwork of redundant and overlapping software vendors and MLSs. More important, they wanted to develop a system that allowed them to control the distribution and use of their data. Giving access to one of their greatest assets needs to be specific and given with intent. Upstream is simple in concept but complicated in execution. However, few in our industry, even its critics, argue its merits.
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No Data Exchange? No More Brokerage.
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MLSs Working Hard to Make Broker IDX Feeds Work Harder
Key Takeaways 1. The move for MLSs to transition to ONLY RESO-compliant IDX feeds is not that difficult Moving to offer only a RESO-compliant IDX feed is not that difficult. RMLS™, one of the first MLSs in the country to distribute only RESO-compliant IDX feeds, made the move in just FOUR weeks. They launched a campaign to their IDX providers that showed them the fields that needed to be transitioned to be RESO-compliant and requiring them to transition completely ONLY to a RESO-compliant IDX feed. 2. Promotion is key According to RMLS™, to make the move, MLSs will need an effective promotional campaign to be sure each of your technology companies is aware of the reasons for the change and knows exactly what they need to do to make the transition successfully. 3. Set a deadline Be sure to set a deadline with a reasonable timeframe to allow each of your IDX providers to meet the deadline. Since many of the largest IDX providers have already made the transition in RMLS™, it should make it easier for them.
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Zillow Protects Broker Data
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The Best APIs in Real Estate
Onboard Informatics has long had a developer platform that houses APIs on community data, property data and more. We wanted to take a look at the broader landscape of APIs and see what other sources are out there to help build your next real estate application or solution. Here's our short list of the Top 10 Best APIs in Real Estate.
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5 Technical Benefits to Upstream
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Upstream Adjusts and Improves
WAV Group has played a humble role in the evolution of Upstream from a concept to where it is today. The effort has been shaped by the deep involvement of leading technologists from across the brokerage and franchise community. This week, we have been pummeled by questions arising out of their recent announcement during the 2017 Midyear REALTORS LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS & TRADE EXPO in Washington D.C.
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Upstream Develops Streamlined Method for Integration
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The 6 Things to Look for When Sourcing Quality Data
Onboard Informatics has been aggregating data for 15 years. We strive to provide quality data for our clients that it easy to use and effective, but what does that really mean? If you want to make sure the data you use is quality data, there are six key things to look for. In this blog, I'll explore each element, why it's important, and the potential ramifications if it's off. There are many ways to examine the quality of data, but these are the main components: 1. Is the Data Complete? When we talk about completeness in the context of data, we are really talking about the final user experience. In other words, will the data meet or exceed user expectations? If you are building a real estate tool that provides home sellers a recap of the last sales price of all the properties within a specific area, you want to make sure the dataset will account for all the home sales. If there are significant gaps, whether in time or area, the end user will notice and you will instantly lose credibility. When you are looking for a data source, find out how often the data is updated, the source of the data and the overall coverage to make sure it is complete.
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Top 3 Tools to Integrate Into Your Back Office
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Upstream Is Already an Awesome Tool for Brokerage Firms
Brokerage firms and franchises across America are already in the data management business. There are 85,000ish firms in America and each of them struggle to manage their information in one fashion or another. Upstream may be most simply understood as a solution that harmonizes data management into a single solution that is 100 percent controlled inside the firm, like Google Drive. Given the fiduciary responsibility of firms to comply with real estate law and MLS business rules, Upstream takes special care to provide a platform that delivers assurances that a firms practices are supported. I was invited to participate in their first CIO/CTO webinar this morning and I am so impressed by the pace of development. Broker Control In Upstream, broker control over information is defined in two ways – access and entitlement. Upstream provides the firm with the ability to issue a token that authorizes access to data. Entitlement is the ability to authorize who has privileges to manage the data. For example, some firms give control to the agent, others give control to some agents and not others, some entitle administrators, and others entitle managers. Upstream supports any entitlement process that a firm defines. Moreover, Upstream provides a firm with a switch to issue or rescind data access in real time. Custom Data Management Support In our industry, there is a combination of standard structured data formats that live alongside the custom needs of a firm. Upstream supports both. Data management is shaped by the requirements of the sum of applications that the data is distributed to. For example, data distribution to an MLS has a set of requirements, whereby distribution to a CRM application, accounting software, or transaction management solution has different needs. Because of the variability of needs of each software solution today, firms find themselves hand entering information again and again and again. Moreover, they are also updating the information over and over, and are removing information over and over. This is a tremendous headache for firms to harmonize their data across so many applications. Upstream fixes it all, from a single location. Moreover, it provides your software partners with an easy integration source that works not only for your firm, but other firms that are using that software vendor.
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The RESO Revolution: Brokers Win Big with Data-compliant Vendors
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The Drive Toward Data Standards Organization
Getting listing details to home buyers can make agents and brokers feel like a frustrated American on the Autobahn. You laid down the cash for the Porsche-like technology solutions so that you can drive like a legend on the highway of business—but all the signs that tell you where you're going is in a different language. It doesn't matter that you have the most capable car on the road if you can't understand the local vernacular. To engage home buyers, agents need to be able to communicate accurate information as soon as it's available. But MLSs and the associated add-on services often have overlapping, inconsistent, or localized data that takes valuable time and money to translate in order to effectively serve clients. Imagine the efficiency— and increased sales!— that could result from all MLSs speaking the same language. The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), which is featured in our annual Technology Guide, is paving the way for agents to access property listing information more productively. Our recent survey revealed that more than a third of brokerages struggle with translating real estate data from the MLS into six or more applications. But the standards developed by RESO enable MLSs, brokers, and associated vendors to more efficiently exchange real estate data in a common format. By using consistent terms and data structures, real estate technology services can put more accurate listing data at the fingertips of brokers and agents.
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Upstream Nominated for Real Estate Innovation Award
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RESO Fielding Survey to Learn How to Make MLS Data Work Better for Brokers
COMPLETE THE SURVEY NOW The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has been hard at work creating consistent data across MLS regions and across the country by creating the RESO Data Dictionary. To date, 1.1 million agents across the country now have access to the RESO Data Dictionary, thanks to the hard work of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, The Realty Alliance, NAR, MLS system providers and MLSs across the country. This normalized data built from years of work with technology leaders from around the industry is being used to fuel Upstream, Broker Public Portal (Homesnap), and the AMP program. RESO standards are making it easier for brokers to expand into new markets and to work with innovative technology providers. WAV Group, along with RESO and its industry ambassadors, is very interested in learning more about the challenges you and your brokerage face with data management today and what RESO can do to aid in your challenges. We would like to gather insights from you as a broker about RESO and candid feedback about the challenges you deal with when trying to ingest and manage MLS data.
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Upstream: Our Own Manhattan Project
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[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
Do you know how, where, and when your transaction data is being used? Brokers are overwhelmingly turning to cloud solutions to manage and complete transactions, and the handling of that transaction data is a top concern. As the facilitators of the real estate transaction, brokers are responsible for the care of sensitive client information. Are your technology vendors transparent about how and where they store your business data once it has been entered into their system? If you're not sure, watch the video below. It's a recording of a live webinar we hosted earlier today on how to evaluate technology vendors for data security. We were joined by special guests Glenn Shimkus and Georg Gerstenfeld of DocuSign, a global leader in the push for standards in digital transaction management. Brokers from across the nation tuned in to the webinar to learn key considerations and questions to ask technology providers. If you were unable to join us, don't worry. You can watch the full recording below:
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The RESO 2015 Fall Conference: Green Data, Broker Standards Adoption, and more
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Upstream Agent Record
Many assume that Upstream is only about listings. In fact, there are six database categories that are contemplated for the application that solve a lot of problems for brokers of any size. The Need for a Single Agent Record Depending on the brokerage, the Agent Record consists of their office address, office phone, bio, headshot, cell number, social media profiles, etc. Agent Records are used in a lot of applications across the brokerage. Here is a partial list, but a common list for a brokerage of one agent in one MLS market. Broker website/Agent website MLS MLS consumer site Mobile app Virtual tour CMA Flyer/marketing Accounting system Realtor.com/Zillow Group, etc. Newspaper/magazine, etc. Drip Marketing Lead management Buyer listing notifications Franchise/network Agent ratings Contact Management System Transaction management Document management Digital signatures
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Turn Big Data Into Big Dollars
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Listing Integration: The Possibilities Are Endless
Since the advent of Internet Data Exchange (IDX), it has become commonplace to sync property listings to a real estate brokerage or agent's website. This feature is popular because composing a quality listing takes time. Once you have entered your listing in the MLS – added the description, technical specs, photos and more – you don't want to spend even more time duplicating this information in your office technology and marketing channels. Listing integration technology opens up a world of opportunity for both brokerages and agents. By syncing your listing information into other areas of your business you will begin to realize the possibilities and full potential of your business. Front office management solution: Integrate listing data into your front office platform to allow agents and administrators to stay informed of listing changes, open houses, daily activity and more, resulting in improved communication and workflow. Transaction documents: With listing integration technology, data is automatically populated and integrated into transaction documents. This eliminates the time agents and administrators spend re-entering data and allows them to focus their attention on providing quality service to their clients. Clients can also access their transaction documents via online portals.
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Stand By For Position RPR Verification
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What Are APIs and Why Do They Matter?
At the RESO Show n' Tell last week, 19 companies showcased their latest developments in a single afternoon. A prevailing theme touched on by SF MLS, Homes.com, Retsly, and Onboard was that of the power of APIs. Since the API seems to be the future of innovation, I thought it would be a good time to review exactly what we're talking about with this three-lettered marvel. What the heck is an API? API stands for Application Programming Interface. You can think of an interface as a path where two components exchange information. Programming and application are terms we're probably more familiar with. If you ever looked at your computer and quoted Salt-N-Pepa ("Don't know how you do the voodoo that you do"), that voodoo is programming. A developer has figured out how to tell the computer to react a certain way through source code. I know. We're magic. And if you pull out your iPhone or Android, you'll see a number of applications. On my own phone, I have a weather app, a city biking app, and Runtastic. So applications are cool tools we use almost every single day. So what we're talking about when we say API is a really sophisticated way to exchange information--in our case, local information --so we developers can do our voodoo and create amazing applications for either the world to enjoy or for your business to solve difficult problems. In all honesty, it's a little more complicated than that – involving specifications, functionality, formatting, input and output – but for our purposes, we'll keep it simple.
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Are You Maximizing Your Listing Data?
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Major Changes In Real Estate
Behold, changes are taking place in real estate. We are seeing significant efforts like Project Upstream, RPR AMP, Broker Public Portal, Fair Display Guidelines, and RESO mandates that are shaping the future of our industry. It makes you wonder what is driving this explosive cocktail of industry wide initiatives. At the heart of many of these developments are brokers. When they survey the world around them, they rue the existence of poor data management and profit taking by others. Poor Data Management I believe that it was MRIS CEO David Charron who coined the term "Overlapping Market Disorder." He was referring to situations where MLS areas overlap. It is a condition that causes brokers and agents to participate in more than one MLS and struggle to keep data clean and abide by different regulations. MLSs have long established unique data schema and rules to "differentiate" themselves from a neighboring MLS. MLS of choice caused this. And in many ways, association of choice amplified it. Today, nearly every MLS supplies brokerages with different IDX and VOW data feeds. For the broker and their vendor, maintaining these different types of feeds and rules is time consuming and painful. The Real Estate Standards Organization seeks to make it better. They are doing an excellent job, and the Data Dictionary--the effort to normalize field names and attributes--will see the day of light by the end of this year and into 2016. It will be a slow transition, but brokers will finally be able to get a data feed that is normalized across multiple markets. At least we are optimistic. The lever to cause the data dictionary to be adopted is the NAR MLS Policy Committee. Technically, MLSs not adopting the standard would be subject to penalties from NAR for non-compliance. We will see how seriously NAR and MLSs take this requirement. For its part, the MLS Policy Committee has done an excellent job of evolving the MLS model rules. For example, last year they standardized rules relating to the access and display of sold property data in the IDX model rules.
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How Do Your Brokerage's Listings Perform on Zillow?
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ListHub/Zillow Divorce Stimulates Discussion
On April 7, 2015, the agreement between national listings syndicator ListHub (a division of Move, Inc., which itself is a subsidiary of News Corp.) and Zillow Group—the operator of websites and mobile apps with Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, and other brands—will expire. ListHub will stop sending listings it receives from MLSs and brokers to Zillow Group, and those listings will not appear on Zillow Group sites and apps unless they are transmitted by other means. REALTORS® should understand this change and take steps to ensure that their listings are appearing where they expect them to. There is no official definition of syndication. The informal one our law firm uses is this: "Distribution in bulk of real estate listing records by or on behalf of the listing broker to portals that will advertise them to consumers on the Internet via websites or mobile apps." A "portal" is an entity like REALTOR.com, Zillow Group, Homes.com, etc., that displays listing information to consumers as advertising via a website or mobile application. A decade ago or so, ListHub formed to provide a service to MLSs and their brokers: ListHub would aggregate a single data feed from the MLS of all brokers' listings; ListHub would negotiate contracts with the portals; and brokers could control which portals received their listings via the ListHub "dashboard." ListHub became a national "listings syndicator," and hundreds of MLSs now work with ListHub, which sends brokers' listings to dozens of portals. ListHub acquired a competing syndication vendor—Point2—last year, making ListHub the only national listings syndicator working with a substantial number of MLSs. If you are a listing broker, you should know whether your MLS syndicates through ListHub. If it does not, you will not notice any change on April 8. Similarly, if your MLS syndicates through ListHub, but your brokerage has "opted out" of listing syndication or display on Zillow Group sites, the April 8 date will bring no changes for your firm. In short, if your listings are not going to Zillow Group through ListHub, the break between those companies will have no affect on you.
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[Video] Are Competitors Eating Your Lunch?
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Broker Best Practices for Avoiding Listing Delay and Inaccurate Data
There are countless methods for distributing listing data, and some are more prone to error and lead loss than others. Today, we're going to look at what some of those channels are and explore ways brokers can ensure that their data is accurate and up-to-date to best serve their customers and represent the quality of their brand online. Choose a Single Source of Distribution One of the best practices for brokers is to define a single syndication method so that listing information goes to publishers from only one location. This is important because when a publisher gets the same listing data from multiple sources, they have to use "trumping rules" to determine which information to display. This slows the frequency of listing updates. Furthermore, all of these competing "voices" may not be sharing the same information, even on the same listing, thus poorly representing the quality of your brokerage to consumers. Once you define your method, it is important to ensure agents are providing listing data through these controlled channels. There are multiple ways that listings are distributed. The most common method is via the MLS, as most MLSs syndicate listings to Realtor.com and distribute listings to a large number of IDX vendors. Many MLSs have outsourced listing syndication to services like ListHub and reDataVault. But, only the MLS can provide data directly to publisher websites, like Trulia and Zillow, via a RETS server, which can update listing changes every few minutes. If a broker is part of a franchise or network, the franchise may also syndicate directly to publishers. RE/MAX, Realogy and Keller Williams all do this since they have the technical resources, but the quality of their listing flow varies depending on their technology. Additionally, virtual tour and single property website providers and companies like Postlets also provide listing syndication services.
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The Right and Wrong of Broker Data
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Broker AVMs (Part 3): The Realty Alliance's Position
This is part three in an x-part series (I promised four parts, but who knows?) on the question of whether and how brokers participating in MLS may use listing data of other brokers to power AVMs sold into the real estate vertical. See Part 1 for an intro and Part 2 for advice that NAR gave MLSs in 2013. In a letter dated January 27, 2014, Craig Cheatham, CEO of The Realty Alliance (TRA), made a recommendation to the National Association of REALTORS®: NAR's MLS Policy [should] be amended to clarify that an MLS must provide Participants, upon request, with a data feed, or permit Participants to download the MLS data from the MLS' database compilation, for use by the Participants to create and deliver AVMs to customers and clients through automated means, such as the Clearinghouse... (page 9; all page numbers in this post refer to TRA's letter). The Clearinghouse is a project supported by TRA and described in the letter (see page 2) that permits participating brokers to work with TRA and its technology partner (which we understand to be a company called Collateral Analytics) to use MLS data to deliver automated valuations to third parties for a fee. An automated valuation model or "AVM" is "a service that can provide real estate property valuations using mathematical modeling combined with a database" (according to Wikipedia as of April 18, 2014). In this case, the database is the MLS database, including not just the listings of the broker developing and delivering the AVM, but the listings of all MLS participants.
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Broker AVMs
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Broker AVMs (Part 2): Previous NAR Policy Guidance
This is the second part of an x-part series on the question of MLS participants using listing data from MLS to produce AVMs. See the intro post for background. The text below is from a summary our firm prepared for lawyers attending the Council of MLS's legal seminar in Boise, Idaho last fall. Note that it does not reflect a position by CMLS on the matters discussed in it. Rather, it was our effort on CMLS's behalf to understand the views of NAR policy staff on the matters discussed in it. Note, too, that NAR staff's position may have evolved since last fall. I still think it's a helpful overview of the issue and current policy, against which we can contrast current proposals. We are sharing it with CMLS's permission. It's long-ish... sorry about that. Preliminary dialog with NAR staff: Brokers building "analytic tools" with MLS data Prepared by Larson/Sobotka PLLC on behalf of CMLS September 26, 2013 In August 2013, CMLS legal counsel presented written questions/comments to NAR intended to clarify NAR policy on a matter of interest to MLSs in the U.S. and therefore of interest to the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS). The results are offered here in the form of a dialog, with CMLS's legal counsel's comments, questions, etc., in black serif type on the left margin, and NAR policy staff's responses of August 28, 2013, in blue sans-serif font, indented from the left margin. CMLS recognizes that any response from NAR is limited in scope to the situations described below and might be different if the assertions characterized below as facts prove to be false.
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Can MLS Brokers Build AVMs Using Data of Other Brokers?
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How Data Killed the REALTOR®
If you look at the demise of Encyclopedia Britannica, you see a clear roadmap of how history will repeat itself to cause the demise of the real estate agent. Up until 1994, the Britannica sales associates sold about 120,000 hard copies. Sales people consumed the most amounts of profits from the transaction. The sales people at Encyclopedia Britannica protected their data. The three or four thousand pages of the books were protected by copyright. Then came the Internet, and more importantly, Wikipedia. The Britannica sales person was disrupted by a price point of free. The cost of data was disrupted by user-generated content. Adapt the pattern to real estate. Like Britannica, sales people or REALTORS® consume the most amount of profits from the transaction. REALTOR® sales people are protected by data copyright and forms copyrights today. The MLS protects REALTORS®. The National Association of REALTORS® protects REALTORS®. Disruption is coming. Today, 1 in 4 buyers find the home they ultimately purchase using the Internet. Like Wikipedia, the cost of consumers to access listings on the Internet is free. Even posting a listing on FSBO (user generated content) is free. Heck, in less than an hour, I can publish more information about my home than any REALTOR® would ever be able to produce. I can do it for free. This is exactly like Britannica – free and user generated content.
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Use Consumer Data as a Marketing Tool
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Privacy and The Real Estate Process
"People who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient's [e-mail provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, 'a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.' "- Google lawyers in a June 2013 court filing Privacy: "the right to be let alone" Louis Brandeis, citing Judge Thomas Cooley, described in an 1890 paper (cowritten with Samuel D. Warren). The real estate process includes numerous privacy oriented policies, from MLS and Association agreements to disclosure documents, franchise fees, rebates and agent compensation practices. Consider three examples that illuminate the growing concerns in and around personal and professional privacy. 1. MLS agreements that assert control and require brokers to cede ownership over broker created listing data. Certain multiple listing service agreements assert ownership over broker created listing data. This means the data brokers enter into an MLS system may be "owned" by the MLS. Conflicts have arisen when the MLS transmits broker created data (sometimes with and without compensation) to third parties that may offer conflicting services with the originating broker, such as national aggregators. What you can do: Brokers should be pro-active in formulating MLS terms and conditions that support their business model(s).
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Aggregators, Realtor.com® Hot Topics at Broker Conference
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Questions to ponder
It was a great time on the Internet yesterday. Obviously hard at work, I read this on Facebook: So, I went and read the rest of Bob's blog post. I don't know Bob well, but I have a friend that held a similar position and found the same difficulties. A guy who worked for another large publisher. His task was to build relationships with MLSs in order to gain the all-important direct data feed. Like Bob, he also hit a point where he felt it best to go do something else.
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Is Data Scraping Taking Money from Brokers’ Pockets? Realtor.com’s Curt Beardsley Says, ‘Yes’
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Stemming the Tide of Data Misappropriation
Gone are the days when REALTORS® would do the legwork and provide a stack of listings to buyers. Would-be buyers can view listing data any number of places online, though they tend to go in droves to the big online real estate portals (think realtor.com®, Homes.com, Trulia, Zillow). Yet, issues surrounding who owns the listing data, and how it is being disseminated across the Web—at worst, illegally and, at best, contrary to the intentions of its owners—continue to raise the ire of real estate brokers and online listings organizations. "Giving your data to a third party, who then wants you to pay them for business generated by that listing—either directly or indirectly—is analogous to lending someone your watch and then paying them later to tell you what time it is." –Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group A growing number are asking how they can protect their data, their brands and their business from a rising tide of data misappropriation. What follows are some important considerations for protecting those hard-won assets—your listings. Understanding the Issues There are three areas are of primary concern: 1) data scraping; 2) data leakage; and 3) advertising practices of real estate portals. MLSs and brokers with effective websites tend to be most concerned about data scraping, which is the illicit copying or indexing of data by computer programs from a website. The second type of widespread misuse is data leakage, in which once-licensed data is repurposed or passed on for unauthorized uses.
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Cloud Storage and Sharing Work in the Digital Age
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Point2 encourages publishers to play nice
Yardi subsidiary Point2 is changing its data distribution policies to align with what it believes to be the interests of MLSs, associations, brokers and agents in the US, similar to what it has introduced in Canada with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Since Yardi purchased Point2, they have renewed determination to protect the data rights of agents, brokers, and their partner associations of REALTORS® and MLSs. In the past, the default distribution setting for Point2 has been broker-opt out rather than broker opt-in. WAV Group has never been in favor of broker opt-out programs. Broker opt-out means that unless notified by the listing broker, Point2 distributed the listing data to all of its publisher recipients. The big problem with this policy is that the broker was subject to the publisher's terms of use for the data, which might be contrary to the best interest of the broker. For many brokers, the portal's terms of use are fair – but for others, they are not. Point2 is now in the process of notifying publishers that they must conform to a set of fair use terms if they want the convenience of broker opt-out data. If they do not conform to the new terms, the data to that publisher will be switched to opt-in. As of January 1, 2013, any publisher not conforming to the new agreement will see somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million listings taken out of their Point2 feed.
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Contagion is a New Word for Brokers
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MOVE Launches the Real Estate Network for Franchises
Franchise Networks have taken the first step to declare their independence from the MLS rules and regulations, and third party listing websites. Today MOVE, operators of REALTOR.com and the Listhub listing syndication network, announced that they have created a data sharing solution called the Real Estate Network. Participants in the network include the two largest REALOGY networks of Century 21 and Coldwell Banker along with Realty Executives and RE/MAX. Under the terms of the agreement, the four participating Franchise Organizations will reciprocate in a listing data share of property listings for public display on each other’s franchise websites. New Century 21 CEO, Rick Davidson sent an email to all Century 21 brokerages yesterday ushering in what he calls “the next step in the evolution of our listings distribution strategy.” The press release from MOVE indicates that the Franchise Organizations have come to mutual terms on a standard display of listings. Details about the standard have been released on the Listhub website (http://www.listhub.net/networkrules.html). MOVE indicated that the rules were “to ensure that brokers’ interests will be preserved and facilitate a level playing field by the participants.”
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The Realities of Working with MLS Data
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A Closer Look at reDataVault by LPS
We understand that one of the top challenges for MLSs and brokers today are the decisions they must make about their data. One product providing a solution for MLSs to manage their data is reDataVault offered by LPS. Now, that product is also available for brokers. We sat down with Ira Luntz, VP of Data Products at LPS, to learn more.
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Product Review: Immobel’s Multi-Language Website IDX and REAL-Buzz
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