Property Wiki (Living Data Base of all Homes) – All they need to know is what is for sale, and it appears like competition to Zillow/T.
It seems at least once a week I hear a broker complain that Zillow Group (ZG) is still displaying listing photos and property description remarks even after the listing has been sold or removed from the syndication feed. How can that be, they ask? What right does ZG have to continue the display when the property is now off-market? In some cases, even the new owner is heard to complain that they do not want photos of their home made public on an active website.
Well, typically ZG refers to the very broad language in their Terms of Service such as “For materials you post or otherwise provide to Zillow Group in connection with the Services (your “Submission”), you grant Zillow Group an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free worldwide license to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, prepare derivative works of or incorporate into other works, and translate your Submission, in connection with the Services or in any other media, and (b) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.”
Similar language covering perpetual license and derivative works was found in past syndication agreements, although questions arose whether photos and agent remarks were considered “data” and could be used off-market.
Fast forward to today and we see some clarification of the issue of using photos and remarks when the listing is no longer active and part of the feed. If this truly is a change in ZG policy, it is indeed a very good sign that ZG is making greater effort to work closer with the real estate industry.
Specifically, where are we seeing some clarification with respect to ZG no longer seeking a perpetual license to property photos and descriptions? When ListHub stopped sending its syndication feed to Zillow Group effective April 8, 2015, Zillow introduced a “Stopgap License Proposal Agreement” with MLSs as a temporary measure (6 months) to continue the flow of listings to ZG while negotiating for a permanent direct syndication arrangement. In that stopgap agreement, ZG claimed a right to “Basic Data” but specifically excluded photos and free form property descriptions (agent remarks). Here’s the key language:
“MLS grants to Zillow a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license and right to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, and create derivative works of the Licensed Data only on and in connection with the operation, marketing and promotion of the web sites and other properties owned, operated or powered by Zillow and Zillow’s authorized licensees. …(b) Licensed Data includes only active listings (listings currently for sale) and, except as provided in Section 4 subsection (c) below, when a listing is no longer active and is dropped from the RETS feed, Zillow’s license to that listing terminates. (c) Notwithstanding the foregoing, MLS grants to Zillow a perpetual license to “Basic Data” as defined in Exhibit A attached hereto (see Zillow Listings Feed Guide at http://bit.ly/1aFdY3u).
For avoidance of doubt, “Basic Data” does not include any free form property descriptions or photos and in no event will Zillow receive a perpetual license to free form property descriptions or photos.”
In its FAQs, ZG asks “Why does Zillow need to retain some of the “basic data?”
Their response: “When new home facts and information are added to our database, it helps to build information about the history of a home and assist in the overall customer experience. Since we will get this data from county records anyway, we prefer to not give our customers an inconsistent experience when looking at homes by adding data, removing it, and adding it again. So, when “basic data” is added to a home via a listing feed, it becomes part of the house history on Zillow.”
Will the ZG clarification of Basic Data rights along with its exclusion of property photos and remarks carry over to its long term direct syndication license agreements with MLSs and brokerages? Will ZG discontinue use of photos and remarks that it acquired in the past? Time will tell, though it is a healthy sign that MLSs are starting to see some gains in their negotiations with the portals.
In 2008, I wrote a paper titled MLS 5.0, “The Future of MLS.” So that you don’t have to read the whole paper, here is the Conclusion:
There is a lot of information contained in this paper, and yet, it is but an annotated outline of what must be done to take advantage of and build upon the strengths of MLS and of the real estate brokerage business. MLSs must use their strengths today to secure their position in the future.
MLS is really an amazing creation if you think about it…A collection of competitors, in a highly competitive, commission-only business, sharing inventory and sharing compensation. The result is a more effective market for real estate practitioners and consumers. Over the years, MLS has changed and it continues to have the most accurate property data available anywhere, constantly updated and kept accurate by an army of agents whose only monetary compensation comes when the transaction “closes.” Today, agents and homeowners themselves are advertising their properties on Craigslist, Google, Yahoo!, and many other sites. All of these sites would love property information available from MLSs because it is unquestionably the highest quality and most accurate of any existing source.
What if the self-policing aspects of a real time Web really began working on Craigslist, Google, or any other online destination site? What if every seller “intuitively” knew that the place to advertise their home to consumers and to agents was on Craigslist (or Facebook or any other growing number of web site destinations)? What if they knew how to post it on Craigslist themselves (and you, the real estate professional did not know how)? In short, what if the impossible becomes possible? If Google became the source of all available properties for sale, nationwide, how might that impact the business of MLS? If as a REALTOR® you could find the complete inventory of property for sale, for free, why would you pay a fee to belong to MLS?
You may think it will take a long time for Google (Yahoo! Etc) to become known as the place for sellers to list property and consumers to find property, and you may be correct.But recall, how many people knew of Google just 10 short years ago and how many know of it today? How many people knew of Craigslist 10 years ago and how many know of it today? In a short span of time, unknown web sites have become household words. The world of MLS as we know it is approaching a cliff, and many riding the MLS train, do not see the cliff as it gets closer with each passing day.
So here is the point. Most of us don’t relish change, but at the same time we have experienced that in life, many things fail to remain as they have always been, so how is MLS any different? To secure its place in the future, MLS must redefine itself from a purely Business to Business (B2B) network and look to becoming a marketing facilitator for its participants and subscribers. It needs to take advantage of its assets and shift its paradigm from information about what is for sale, to information on all property whether for sale or not. From this perspective, brokers and agents can continue to effectively differentiate themselves from the competition, manage information more efficiently, provide more service to their customers, and evolve to be the “trusted and authoritative source” they want the world to believe that they are.
Is the creation of MLS 5.0 a major project? It is. It will require conversation and analysis by all who are considered as stakeholders…but how do you eat an elephant? You have heard it for years: “one bite (byte) at a time.”
The value proposition, listings for exposure, has grown so lopsided, that it is time for an Industry “time out.” MOVE’s move to suspend listings from Trulia gives the Industry time to rethink data and data licensing. This is good for the real estate industry. For those who want to advertise online, there are still plenty of opportunities, and those who surfed on Trulia will now surf somewhere else…maybe someday on your IDX or VOW site.
In our opinion, one of the best resources for MLSs is this law firm. We have known Brian for many years, including his years as an MLS Exec.
Good points and questions, Mitch.
No MLS should be rushed into making a decision solely out of expediency. Consumers have plenty of other places to find what is for sale, and REALTORS have plenty of other places to spend their advertising dollars.
Zillow and Trulia both knew that this would take place at some point. If people want to lay the blame on realtor Dot com, they should spread it equally to Trulia and Zillow.
I was having conversations about this inevitability with both Trulia and Zillow in August of last year…and here we are today.
Pretty smart move by Realtor Dot com.
Oh yea, remember Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley?
With all of the Hoopla and the surprises at Inman this week between MOVE/REALTOR.COM/Newscorp and Zillow/Trulia, the New York Times, etc, there is another possibility that will be spoken little of, if at all…and that is talk of a Broker MLS portal as part of a consortium with local MLS and Association public portals…for lack of a better term, the Network.
John and I have been considering and socializing various aspects of a network or consortium, with interesting result. There is much flesh to be put on the bones of this outline. Something that would enhance this concept is the sun setting of syndication by MLSs, leaving it the responsibility of brokers.
So, as with any onion, there are many layers, the future could resemble:
Broker/MLS National Public Portal Joined in a Consortium with Association/MLS Public Portals, AKA The Network
What’s at Stake
- The current real estate sales model
- Position as the authoritative source of real estate information to the public, becoming a competitor for the public eyeballs at a greatly reduced capital cost…you own the data everyone wants
- Listhub, Zillow Trulia Data Battle will be expensive for both sides, and create an opening for an Industry entry.
- Creating the revenue from the data search, display, and other acceptable uses to pay for all of the costs of MLS services to real
- Synergies of this Consortium.
- Broker/MLS National Public Portal
- Association/MLS Public Portals
- Contract Alignment – LRM (Listing Rights Management) – Data contracts with specific data rights. This is critical. Exclusivity of data is a driver of value, and attainable.
Strategy – P C M
- Protect – Contract Alignment
- Control – LRM
- Monetize – Industry Public Portals
Major Portal Competition
Portals are “Games”
- Traffic count indications
- 60 Million Uniques per month
- 5 Million Annual Transactions
- Changing rules of data display will not affect serious buyers, only gamers.
- Portals at vulnerable and at multiple risk
- Relationships with MLSs are weak
- Data Source from Point2 short term contracts
- Data Source from Listhub tentative – owned by Move
- Reliant upon MLS (free) data to build commerce
The Network is a Player
- The Network uses its data resources to propel it forward. All indications is that The Network must move now, to maximize the current landscape
- Third-party Portals pose a threat to brokers as the portals move upstream, creating relationships with consumers early in the home buying process, and cultivate consumers in a far more effective way than is possible for most practitioners. MLSs are at risk
- The Network is the alternative
- Network of Portals with combined traffic better than the Top Three
- Positioned to help Brokers and MLSs control and monetize their data (API Strategies) – LRM
- MLS Fees become a thing of the past for real estate professionals
Portals Are Vulnerable
- Be a competitive alternative to the top 3 in the real estate portal space
- Compete for the current dollars
- Find ways to monetize or benefit
- Position for future opportunities (dollars)
- MLS Public Portals
- Providing relevant search results to consumers, not hampered by revenue models of most portals
- Bringing Realtor® and consumers together online through the most dynamic and prolific Online Real Estate Communities on the Internet
- Data – Quantity and quality, the best of any portal
- Offering training and education resources to agents and consumers
- Sold data eventually – “that was then, this is now.” Sold data provided by forward thinking MLSs. Put the Zestimate to bed once and for all.
- Develop a public portal solution that is a WIN – WIN – WIN (Consumers/Practitioners/Organized Real Estate)
- A new online consumer experience
- Syndication Network – MLSs and Association Public portals
- Harnessing the power of the data, creating data products and revenue for the benefit of consumers and the industry
- Bringing REALTORS and Consumers together in a conversation
- Capitalizing on the community and organizing power of our MLSs and Associations to generate community created, hyper-local content
How? Create a “New Model”
- Key: “Industry Friendly” with Integrity
- Old Model – Single giant portals competing
- New Model – Create a network of MLS/Association portals and use the power of the organizations and brokers to help propel the “New Model” to the top, organize and share in revenue. Gain recognition and brand exposure in the marketplace to assist in the sale of other products
- Other MLS/Association Portals
- Broker Portals
- Agent Portals
- Anyone who wants the data, under the provisions to be determined
- More Power Growing demand for data products….the MLS is data rich and can be used to construct many data products that have not yet been thought of.
MLS/Association Portals Will Come From:
- Public Portal
- Ad Networks
- Ads to local vendors
- Member Involvement
- Online Community
- Bringing the consumer and the REALTOR® together
Sending leads back to members In a REALTOR® Friendly way
- BI/Big Data
The Revenue Opportunities
People keep talking about “data,” but what is it that they are talking about?
- Information is the currency of the Twenty First Century – Toffler
- MLS Data – Availability, status, size, on market,
- Property Data
- Local Data added by associations and MLSs
- Community Data
- Behavioral Data
- Organizational structure
- New Hires – a few
- Socialize MLS public portal acceptance to MLSs, Associations, Brokers, Agents
- Strive for as many public portals in the next two years as possible, by all competitors
Data needs a voice, and that is why we decided to create this blog. We will be bringing you conversation and resources that we believe are relevant to the Data Conversation playing out in the real estate industry today…so bookmark us and come back often.
- TDA Team
- April 1
- Data Licensing
- Design Lab
- Domain Names
- Dot REALTOR
- e Commerce
- Education & Training
- IDX (Internet Data Exchange)
- Language of Real Estate
- Listing Syndication
- Machine Learning
- Major Real Estate Portals
- MLS (Multiple Listing Service)
- Online Sales
- Organization Of the Real Estate Industry
- Paradigm Shift
- Personal Branding – Domain Names
- Personal Information
- Public Portals
- Random Thoughts
- REALTOR Association Buildings
- REALTOR Associations
- REALTOR Buildings
- Realtor Information Network (RIN)
- Risk Management
- Sales and Selling
- TECHNOLOGY TIMELINE