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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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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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