April 1

As April First approaches, John and I wanted to give you fore warning of April Fool’s Day.

To do so we thought we would share this piece we created and originally published on April 1, 2014 (April 1 is a great day to forecast 🙂 :

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War of the Worlds – REALTOR.com/MOVE closes Listhub
In a stunning move, MOVE, the operator of REALTOR.com has decided to close Listhub, the largest real estate listing syndication company in the US, effective today.

Listhub has the largest listing real estate syndication network in the US, and is the supplier of more than 50% of the “residential property for sale” inventory to most of the major real estate portals, except REALTOR.com (also owned by MOVE), which receives direct (individual) data feeds from the over 800 MLSs.

MOVE acquired Listhub in August of 2010. At the time it was seen as a way to “level the playing field” between REALTOR.com and its competitors, by controlling the flow of the most prized of real estate for sale data, and in some cases sold data – we’re referring to that data aggregated from the over 800 Multiple Listing Services across the country.

By owning Listhub, REALTOR.com finds itself in a position to slowly tighten the rules of data distribution, bringing the modern day portals more in line with some of the restrictions placed on REALTOR.com by its contract and relationship with NAR, which over the years, made REALTOR.com less competitive. REALTOR. com went from being the number one, most visited real estate website for 11 years, but has, over the last few years, fallen to third. It can also deny the data to all sites by closing Listhub. This is not a new idea and was ventured by a few of the industry prognosticatiors.

This move by MOVE will deny at least 50% of the “property for sale inventory” to real estate sites such as Zillow and Trulia, and help propel REALTOR.com back to the number one position as the most visited real estate website in the world, almost overnight.

“It makes sense, “said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of MOVE. “The Listhub Team is great, but it is an underperforming asset in a very hostile environment, and we are often blamed for all that is wrong with listing data on the web. We are simply going to get out of the syndication business. Let these guys go get the data themselves…it is not easy and it is expensive.”

He continued…”And, Turnabout is fair play. This is war. Zillow took our top executives, a bold move. Trulia is partnering with Google…They need to know, the world needs to know, that REALTOR.com is not defenseless. We will take their oxygen, the listings Listhub provides to our major competitors, including Zillow and Trulia.”

NAR and REALTOR.com, in an equally as game changing move, announced today that the data on REALTOR.com will be enriched by integrating the wealth of data currently housed in RPR. This will be done locally and with discussion and consideration in each MLS and Association market.
To date Realtors have not effectively used the RPR data and the plan is to use the RPR data on behalf of the Realtor members to catapult the new Realtor.com into the spotlight as the premier source of robust and accurate real estate information in a consumer-friendly format.

Inman news reporters caught up with Zillow’s Spencer Rascoff during his filming of a new $5 million ad featuring Beyonce and Jay Z buying several homes via Zillow. In the ad, Spencer comments that the couple found their homes thanks to Zillow. He was then quick to denounce the move, by MOVE, to shut Listhub as being a “pretty low blow, reprehensible.”
“I would have thought NAR would have come to me first before going public with this sneaky move. Along with the closing of the Listhub pipeline, this makes me think there is a conspiracy here to monopolize the industry. My next call is to my friends at the Antitrust Divisions of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission – I’ll have our new antitrust counsel get right on this one.”

“What makes me even madder,” he continues,” is that I am pro-agent. At Zillow, we make tools that help REALTORS become the real estate professionals of tomorrow, worth every penny of the 6% commission earned in that transaction. They remain integral to the process!
This move by MOVE could have major implications for Point2 Technologies; the number 2 syndication provider in the industry, a company that offers deep and varying degrees of control of one’s listing data, collected at the source.

International organizations, seeing huge profits in this sector, are ready to take on the current goliaths of the real estate online space in attempts to quickly create a “neutral data repository“ for the real estate Industry, using Point2’s technology and networks…a data rights management data distribution (syndication) platform and destination network that creates an eco-system of innovation around the data, protecting and monetizing that data, in cooperation and partnership with REDPLAN.

Zillow and Trulia are currently exploring the antitrust implications of this move, by MOVE, and Zillow has hired past NAR General Counsel of 30 years, Laurie Janik. As NAR’s GC, Laurie was intimate with all of the details of the many antitrust cases against NAR, and especially the data settlements between the DOJ and NAR in 2008.

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