Category : MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

Data Licensing Listing Syndication MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Public Portals

Evolution of MLS Public Websites

There is a movement afoot among Multiple Listing Service (MLS) executives and brokers across the country to take measures to protect, control, and monetize the very valuable asset they guard – namely, the data surrounding listings. A key component of this strategy is the consumer-facing MLS website, also known as the MLS Public Portal.

The idea behind a MLS public website is not new. In a 2009 study of MLS public listings websites, Matt Cohen, well-regarded technology chief for Clareity Consulting, said: “I have been an advocate for MLS websites that provide real estate listings information to the public since 1996. Such websites have always made sense as a hedge against industry outsiders that want to intercept the consumer on their way to the real estate professional, selling expensive advertising, charging referral fees and/or reducing the broker’s capability to provide a one-stop-shop for services ancillary to the real estate transaction.”

In 2009, Clareity Consulting studied every MLS listing website in the United States and found most of them to be severely lacking in features and deficient in other criteria. Clareity updated their study in 2011 and again in 2013, evaluating the listing websites of the top 100 MLSs by size. Of these MLSs, 63 had listing websites, which collectively represent approximately half of the residential listing content in the United States. Links to each of the Clareity Consulting Studies are provided at the foot of this article – we’ll take a look at some of the highlights here but we  encourage you to take the time to read them in full.

Historically, MLS vendors have not focused on the development of MLS public websites and some of their offerings were an afterthought and lacked the content and features found in the national portals. The websites and search components provided by vendors were often free and very basic so MLS operators that wanted a more robust public site retained a local or national website vendor or hired staff to develop it themselves.

Today’s consumers visit many sites and expect more than a basic system. They are not likely to return to a site just because it is provided by the MLS for the reason that the listings are in many places where additional content and advanced features provide a better search experience and superior analysis tools and reports.

Clareity’s 2013 Update stated that: “In order to field highly functional websites, most of these MLSs have moved away from the free websites provided by MLS vendors. A few have improved their websites’ capabilities by purchasing a premium website from their MLS vendor, while 29 % have either developed a custom website by themselves or with technology partners and 61% have leveraged the capabilities of IDX vendors.”

A good example of a Realtor-friendly consumer website was recently launched by the San Francisco Association of Realtors® at the mobile friendly www.sfrealtors.com that will soon add local videos to their Neighborhood tab.

Both the 2011 and the 2013 studies addressed the main features of a well-designed MLS public website. Here’s a quick look:

  1. Finding Properties (Search) – There is no good reason not to provide either ‘count on the fly’ or its visual equivalent, where listings are shown on a map as criteria are changed.
  2. Search Filters/Content – Only 16% of sites allow you to search for pending or sold listings, useful when you want to look at comparable properties. It seems likely that in the future, to remain competitive with national listing advertising sites, more MLSs will allow for local display of pending or sold listings and/or display that information via public records display.
  3. Open House – 70% of sites have some kind of open house search, either integrated directly into property search or available as a separate search from the site’s top-level menu.
  4. Details About Individual Properties – The simplest and least sophisticated implementations of property maps are simply links to Google Maps or another online mapping application, or popup windows in which such links are loaded. Better implementations use their own map data, overlaid with their own points of interest. The advantages of having many pictures of a property rather than one should be obvious. Nonetheless, 9% of top MLS listing websites still show only one picture per property. “Virtual tours” were a hot idea years ago, but the implementations mostly looked like slideshows with perhaps a little wiggle here and there to simulate motion. Most virtual tours still have that limitation, and are displayed by only 13% of sites.
  5. Personalizing Your Searches – 46% of sites allow the consumer to save searches, 24% allow the consumer to receive email updates on properties and 24% allow the consumer to compare listings side by side. Features allowing consumers to save searches and/or listings and receive email updates are crucial for the long-term usability of the website by consumers and should be implemented by more than a minority of websites.
  6. Sharing and Printing Properties – A supermajority of sites (73%) allow you to send an email with a listing to a friend, and a similar number (78%) give you a version of a property detail page that is formatted so that you can print it easily. 45% of sites let you post a link to a property detail page to social media sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, so that you can share the specs on that dream house with your friends.
  7. Neighborhood Features – Although having a full range of visuals and data about a home’s immediate property is undeniably the central issue for homebuyers, most also would like to have a clear sense of the home’s neighborhood. In this respect, most MLS websites provide scant information, and would do well to beef up their offerings. Similarly, MLS websites provide prospective homebuyers with little information about the neighborhoods themselves. Providing information beyond the listings themselves – especially neighborhood and points-of-interest information – is absolutely critical for MLS websites that wish to be competitive.
  8. Visiting and Choosing a Property – Once a homebuyer has identified several properties of interest, he or she may want to compare their features. Currently 24% of MLS sites enable browsers to compare properties side by side.
  9. Costs of an Individual House – Information about comparable sales, a house’s sale history, and local market trends can help a buyer make an informed decision. Unfortunately, only 27% of sites offer historical and statistical information.
  10.   Advertisement and Policies – Advertisements are a way for an MLS to monetize its site and connect consumers with services they may need during the home buying process. At the same time, they may detract from a site’s appearance of objectivity and authority. 16% of sites display advertisements.
  11.   Appearance of Sites – Use white space and “normal” size fonts as appropriate. Don’t treat the listing page like a data dump. You are not paying by the pixel. Make it easy for people to read the listings.
  12.  Accessibility – International buyers and non-English speakers represent a growing number of purchasers of U.S. homes, especially in multicultural markets such as New York, Texas, and Florida. Public MLS sites that present a user interface in a buyer’s language have an advantage. Only 8% of sites currently offer multiple languages, up from under 1% in 2009.
  13.  Mobile – In 2009, the category of mobile real estate sites did not exist. Today, technology companies sell more mobile phones than computers. The real estate industry has simply not caught up; it is seriously lagging behind. Less than 50% of MLSs have mobile sites. This is a missed opportunity and a crucial area in which MLSs must rise to the challenge, given that, according to NAR, 61% of consumers on a tablet or phone who visit a website that isn’t mobile friendly leave the site immediately and may never come back.
  14.   Search Engine Optimization – Only 36% of MLS sites received a PageRank of 4 or 5 and others were even lower. This is not particularly good, considering that PageRank tops out at a rating of “10.” Only 41% of sites studied had listings indexed by Google! The benefits afforded by having all of the listings indexed and the “long tail” search should not be underestimated. A prime example of the high rankings that can be achieved by a MLS public website is the Houston Association website at www.HAR.com
  15.   MLS Data Security – While consumers are the main audience of your MLS listings site, there is another hidden audience, one that you don’t want. “Scrapers” are scanning your site, copying your data, and using it or reselling it for unlicensed purposes.

Realtor friendly MLS public websites are a big part of the movement to protect, control and monetize the data. Our hats off to Gregg Larson and Matt Cohen and the Clareity Consulting team for their monitoring of the evolution of MLS public websites.

Sources:

TheDataAdvocate – MLS Public Websites

Clareity Consulting – 2013 MLS Public Website Update

Clareity Consulting – 2011 MLS Public Website Update (feature comparisons)

Clareity Consulting – 2009 MLS Public Website Study

Matt’s Real Estate Technology Blog – Measuring Success article

Matt’s Review of SFAR public website

 

 

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Data Licensing Listing Syndication MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Public Portals

Take Back Your Future – Or Is It Too Late? The MLS Data and Information Debate

It is not too late.

Not only that, the time is NOW to determine paths to data monetization of MLS Information for the real estate industry, with a few initial, specific objectives.

I have been around Internet listing display and listing data distribution since their inception in 1995. My initial experience with MLS data was as an MLS user and a broker, and an association volunteer in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. This led the way for my work with NAR, RIN, Realtor.com, InternetCrusade, and more recently with ePRO, and Syndication as CEO of Point2. We are now at the threshold of a convergence of Syndication (Data Distribution) and MLS Public Portals. This is significant, with billions of dollars of revenue at stake over time. Shouldn’t some of that revenue be directed to pay for the cost of the data, for the infrastructure that supports the data pipeline?

There is a lot of “noise,” misinformation and disinformation about these two related subjects being promulgated and propagated, with intentions that are, in my opinion, not in the best interest of many of the current industry stakeholders, particularly brokers and agents. There is an insidious, yet direct assault being waged against your business practices. Stay with me on this.

What you see of the real estate landscape on the web today is in large part a result of decisions made at the dawn of the Age of the Web (around 1996). But the real estate portals of today, exemplified by Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia are not the only solutions to the data concerns of primary industry stakeholders today, and now is the time to seriously consider and implement alternatives which are in the best interest of your business and practice, before it is too late.

Who are the Primary Industry Stakeholders?

  • Agents
  • Brokers
  • MLSs
  • Associations
  • Franchisors
  • Vendors
  • Data Display Sites (Portals such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia)
  • Consumers of real property goods and services

Based on what I’ve learned working on this for the last 18 years, and more recently over the last six years, I believe there is now room for different public portal real estate models to flourish. I also believe that the window of opportunity is not indefinite and is in fact, short…two to three years.

My belief is driven largely by my perception, after speaking in person with tens of thousands of agents and brokers from coast to coast, and many more online. My perception is that there is a growing dissatisfaction of the current choices available for data display in the industry, and a feeling that the large, real estate portal models of today do not seem to be serving the interest of the brokers, agents, associations, MLSs or the consumers they serve.

I firmly believe my perception is an accurate portrayal of the feelings in the industry. We can debate this all day, but this is what my intuition is telling me, based on thousands of conversations. The portals of today can quote me all of the traffic numbers they like, but I do not buy the proposed beneficial impact implied by traffic count. But you do not have to take my word for it. You can check this out for yourself. Take the temperature of your colleagues about the major portal choices available today, what they like and don’t like, at your next office meeting.

What is the problem with many portal displays of MLS listing information today?

  • Inaccurate data
  • Untimely data
  • Diversion of leads away from listing agent
  • Sale of leads to agents and brokers generated from listing content
  • Consumer frustration, anger and distrust of agents when inaccurate property representations appear on some of the real estate portals

These are but a few of the complaints I have heard.

Here is the good news:

That was then, this is now. Information is the currency of the Twenty First Century (Toffler)

MLS/Association public portals can be influential as we move forward into the next phase of the real estate cycle. MLSs hold the key to the success of the very portals that are the targets of the industry complaints mentioned earlier in this piece. Part of the answer lies with stricter data licensing provisions and enforcement.

Data Licensing

The current listing distribution (syndication) position of the industry is ready for the next phase. This phase will continue to restrict the uses of MLS data and Information, understanding that information is the currency of the Twenty-First Century.

The following are examples of Data Licensing Provisions which have been vetted by key players and organizations, including major brokers and successful agents. In order for third party MLS data publishers to utilize MLS data, I believe that, unless granted authority otherwise, third party publishers of MLS data must adhere to the following:

  • Publisher is not allowed to sublicense the licensed data nor use or display licensed data in any derivative works.
  • Publisher may not capture leads from the display of specific listings and sell them back to the participant broker/agent or divert them to third parties (the ‘three-headed monster’).
  • Publisher may not feature any other persons or companies associated with a specific broker’s listing in a more prominent manner as the listing broker in any advertisement or promotion.
  • Publisher may only display the licensed data in the context of a consumer display (not, for example, display on an agent’s mobile app).
  • Publisher may not retain any licensed data after termination of the syndication agreement or after a participant has opted-out.
  • Publisher may not re-syndicate and must retain custody of the licensed data and not operate sites on behalf of third parties, even if framed on a third party site or powered by publisher
  • Publisher may not modify the licensed data in any material way
  • Publisher must provide a link on each listing display that directs consumers to the URL provided with each listing where consumers can access extended property information
  • Publisher must promptly update their site upon any update of licensed data
  • Participants must have access to a dashboard where they can change the opt-in and opt-out selections regarding any publisher

If publishers will not agree to these license provisions, they will be denied the data feed from the MLS. Publisher portals are free to ask sellers for the data, or brokers, or agents. Of course data from these sources is not as accurate or timely…but these portals will still have access to the data, so any cries of anti–trust will be muted by the facts. Some MLSs may decide to allow for fewer data restrictions for a fee. Some may also charge the same RETS Feed fees they charge other vendors, such as IDX vendors, imposing the same sorts of restrictions.

MLS Public Portals

MLS Public Portals can be another piece of this puzzle as brokers, agents, associations and MLSs look to further define their value propositions.

MLSs, Associations and the Brokers who govern them have the power to create a Public Portal Model that serves the interests of consumers, brokers, agents, associations and MLSs.

A portal model that:

  • Provides relevant search results to consumers, not hampered by revenue models
  • Focuses on Data – Quantity and quality, including timeliness
  • Brings Realtor® and consumers together online through the most dynamic and prolific Online Real Estate Communities on the Internet
  • Drives traffic and leads to broker sites, without the added expense
  • Provides ACCURATE Sold information eventually – “that was then, this is now.” Sold data is currently being provided on a public portal by some MLSs. This practice can be a game changer.
  • Promotes the value of working with a licensed professional.
  • Does not depend upon selling featured agent or featured property ads for revenue
  • Offers training and education resources to agents and consumers
  • Pays for the cost of the infrastructure (and maybe more eventually) through:
    • revenue created from the sale and licensing of certain data – RETS feed fees MLSs are currently charging some vendors, such as IDX vendors, and not others, such as Syndication vendors
    • derivative works of unidentifiable data for a multitude of industries
    • generic advertising, both national and local.
    • consumer behavioral data products based on consumer activity on the site

This model, if adopted by a few MLSs, will mushroom into the choice of consumers and will prove a superior alternative to the portal models of today. Over 400 MLSs currently have some form of public MLS display.

The recent NAR conversations around MLS public portals being either core, basic and optional services, has created the opportunity to once again have an industry discussion around the direct monetization of MLS data through MLS public portals.

Broker’s benefit from tighter control of Listing Data and Information

The collection of the data and information that sits in MLS databases is accomplished by a “volunteer” army of agents and brokers who toil until a transaction closes, with no compensation.

The labor required for the collection of the MLS Listing, used by third party sites to generate commerce, has a cost, currently borne by brokers and agents. Add to that the fact that margins in the brokerage business are smaller than some might imagine, and the idea of eliminating the cost of the MLS infrastructure through the efficient commercialization of the data begins to make sense.

What about the Huge Traffic Counts from Syndication?

Five million home transactions on average each year according to NAR. The three major portals talk about 40 to 50 million unique visitors per month. Obviously, most of the uniques are not homebuyers. Go more granular…to your city or town, zip, type of property, and price range, and the number of substantial leads from those 50 million numbers dwindles rapidly. And aside from leads (whatever constitutes a lead), what about conversions? The conversion rate of these leads would portray an even sadder story of the value gained by agents and brokers from listing portals today.

It’s too late; you can’t put the horse back in the barn. The competition has too much money!

Baloney. This is not about money as we normally think about it. This is about currency, and information is the currency of the Twenty-First Century. And MLSs have much of the information, and all of the power that entails, which they can now bring to bear for the benefit of their Subscribers and Participants…the brokers and agents around the country. The lion coming over the hill is the MLS and the brokers and agents they represent.

The game is still in the early innings. There will be many obstacles and diversions along the way. But have no doubt that the universe of information collected (and even more which can be collected moving forward) has value and will have greater value as we continue to find new ways to use the information. Toffler’s statement, “Information is the currency of the Twenty-First Century speaks directly to MLSs today, and indirectly to the brokers and agents that control them through the maze of governance and businness stucture, which allows for the collection and compilation of current, and future assets.

Broker control over marketing dollar:

Use of MLS data is now fueling consumer confidence and helping to build brand for big companies. Is the advertising these companies offer in return really worth the price you are paying? If it is, end of story. If it is not, it is time to act. The first step is to continue to follow our discussions at TheDataAdvocate.

As brokers were once trapped and forced to advertise in newspapers, because it was “expected” by sellers, it will become that way with portals over the next few years, but there is still time to make sure that does not happen,. A clear vision and focus over the next 3 years has the potential to further fulfil the expectations of all those interested in real property.

Many of the “voices of the industry” will cry that it’s “too little, too late.” I know that this is a very tall order. I brought the concept of listings on the Web to the industry in 1995, and I was instrumental in many aspects of the creation of Realtor.com®. Along with my partner, attorney and author John Reilly, we resuscitated the NAR e-PRO Program in 2001 and grew it into the largest Certification program in the history of NAR. We created an alternative to Listhub, the only large listing syndication company in 2009-2012, and now owned by MOVE, Inc. In each case, the task at hand seemed almost insurmountable. We’re not strangers to challenge and adversity, and we’re looking forward to this challenge.

John and I may not have all the answers, but we’re not ready to tell the industry to give up the fight. The “conventional wisdom” may be telling the industry to throw in the towel, however, that’s bad advice from those who have something to gain should you heed their advice.  At Point2, we are not ready to accept the premise that “MLS is dead.” We believe that MLS as an industry is alive, well, and gaining strength and direction with organizations such as CMLS, and COVE Group. The MLS is the consumers’ best friend, and the ally of brokers and agents. John and I fully intend to participate and have an impact on this conversation and the future of listing data on the Internet. The time is right, the forces are aligning and the future is a little clearer with each passing day.

The time to take control of the future of your business, be it brokerage and sales, MLS, or Association Management, is now. Use the strengths you have today to anchor your position in the future.

It is not too late.

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Data Licensing MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Public Portals

Data License Provisions and Restrictions…The Evolution Continues

The real estate industry has been concerned with the unauthorized use of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data since I first started selling real estate in California in 1975. As a CAR Director in the 1990s, I recall incidents and threats of litigation involving moving companies that were using MLS data they obtained by Dempsey Dumpster Diving for MLS books (remember the books?).

As MLS data made its way to the Web over the last 18 years…from first generation publishing portals such as Realtor.com, HomeSeekers, HomeAdvisor, and Homes.com…to the second generation publisher portals such as Trulia, Zillow, RealEstate.com and others, there has been much misunderstanding and abuse. Data Distribution (Syndication) will continue to evolve over the next few years into “Selective Syndication” and “Data RIghts Management.” Below are data use provisions/restrictions which I have collected and vetted over the last two years.

What do you think of them? In order for third MLS data publishers to utilize MLS data, I believe that, unless granted authority otherwise, third party publishers of MLS data must adhere to the following:

  1. Publisher is not allowed to sublicense the licensed data nor use or display licensed data in any derivative works.
  2. Publisher may not capture leads from the display of specific listings and sell them back to the participant broker/agent or divert them to third parties (the ‘three-headed monster’).
  3. Publisher may not feature any other persons or companies associated with a specific  broker’s listing in a more prominent manner as the listing broker in any advertisement or promotion.
  4. Publisher may only display the licensed data in the context of a consumer display (not, for example, display on an agent’s mobile app).
  5. Publisher may not retain any licensed data after termination of the syndication agreement or after a participant has opted-out.
  6. Publisher may not re-syndicate and must retain custody of the licensed data and not operate sites on behalf of third parties, even if framed on a third party site or powered by publisher
  7. Publisher may not modify the licensed data in any material way
  8. Publisher must provide a link on each listing display that directs consumers to the URL provided with each listing where consumers can access extended property information
  9. Publisher must promptly update their site upon any update of licensed data
  10. Participants must have access to a dashboard where they can change the opt-in and opt-out selections regarding any publisher

If publishers will not agree to these license provisions, they will be denied the data feed from the MLS. Publisher portals are free to ask sellers for the data, or brokers, or agents. Of course data from these sources is not be as accurate or timely…but these portals will still have access to the data, so any cries of anti–trust will be muted by the facts. Some MLSs may decide to allow for fewer data restrictions for a fee. Some may also charge the same RETS Feed fees they charge other vendors, such as IDX vendors, imposing the same sorts of restrictions.

MLSs provide the most relevant, timely, and accurate data for real estate professionals, and their customers. As we move to the next step of the evolution of MLS data on the Web, we will find more MLSs and associations deciding to employ public portals, for direct monetization, as PCM (Protect – Control – Monetize) continues to roll forward.

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange) Listing Syndication MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

What would happen if MLSs decided that they would no longer provide free listing data to feeds to real estate portals? Good Things.

Real Estate Web Sites wanting to draw eyeballs and generate commerce by displaying properties for sale are ubiquitous. What they need to succeed is inventory. What are the potential sources of listing data today, and what makes some better than others? What happens if MLSs tighten the rules on syndication?

Sources of For Sale Real Estate Data:

1. MLSs – This is the best source of active real estate inventory for many reasons. It is the most comprehensive, accurate and complete collection of for sale properties. It is the Gold Standard. Currently, MLSs make this well-policed data available at little to no cost for the purpose of distribution or syndication. There is no reason MLSs must make this data available to public sites.

2. Franchisors – Franchisors have databases of for sale inventory. For a number of reasons, this data often lacks the high quality of MLS data. It can be made available to third party sites and often is.

3.  Brokers

4. Sales Associates

5. Owners

6. Syndication and Data aggregators such as Point2 and Listhub.

7. Scraped from other sources (theft)

Consequences of MLS tightening control of For Sale Real Estate Data: 

1. Portals would still have access to listing data as there are many ways sites can acquire this data. Granted, some data sources are better than others. See above.

2. MLSs data would become more valuable as MLS data is curated and other data sources are not curated to the same degree.

3. MLSs could generate revenues by charging content users to whom data feeds are provided, much the same way MLSs currently charge for IDX feeds. This revenue could be rebated to brokers and agents in the form of lower MLS fees, at a minimum. No one knows how much this might grow in the future, especially if combined with an MLS Public Portal and the collection of consumer behavioral data, and the creation and sale of derivative works. All done for the benefit of the providers of the content, the brokers and agents who are MLS members.

4. Properties would continue to sell, especially as the market turns and we head into the expansion phase of the next real estate cycle.

5. Consumers will find the best data for their situation as they get closer to decision time, through the MLS and the MLS subscribers and participants.

 

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MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Realtor Information Network (RIN) REALTOR.COM

NAR Directors – Considerations and Issues

  1. Stakeholders – There are a number of stakeholders in Realtor.com. Who are they?
  • Consumers
  • Brokers
  • Agents
  • MLSs
  • Associations
  • Franchisors
  • Shareholders of MOVE

Your decisions more than likely will have some impact on all of the above.

2. For Sale By Owner – Should FSBOs be allowed to be displayed on REALTOR.com , along with the listings from the MLSs?

3. Advertising restrictions – Should the Operating Agreement restrictions be lifted on Realtor.com links to apartment rental advertising services or to
new home developments advertisements?

4. Consumer evaluations or ratings of agents/brokerages.

5. Display content from NAR’s House Logic and Realtor Property Resources (RPR)

6. More derivative data products

7. Create a national MLS database (this is NOT an MLS)

 

 

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MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Realtor Information Network (RIN) REALTOR.COM

Extraordinary Vision – NAR in the 1990s

RINphoto“Text without context is pretext.” As the NAR Directors prepare for their special meeting and discussions about the future of Realtor.com, some context may be helpful.

The National Association of REALTORS recognized in the early 1990s the importance of technology and the role it would play in the future of real estate. Through NAR, and its wholly owned subsidiary, RIN, the real estate industry was among the first in the world to embrace the web as a new way to market. The real estate industry, lead by NAR (and all of the affiliated associations and MLSs), was a pioneer in exposing its “For Sale” inventory on the web for all consumers to see, through the ancestor of what today continues to be called Realtor.com.

For this to happen required a major shift in thinking. In many locations across the country, addresses of properties for sale were not included in the ad, for fear of providing “too much information,” and thus minimizing the role of the REALTOR.

NAR hired major consulting firms EDS, Arthur Young, and Gallup in the early 1990s. It created a Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) in 1993, followed by the incorporation of the REALTORS Information Network (RIN), a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR .

RIN was created by NAR to allow for a leadership and management structure separate from, and more nimble than, NAR — those being requirements for survival in a fast moving, Information Age. It was RIN’s Mission to “Keep the Realtor in the center of the transaction”  as technology changed the role of brokers and agents. RIN had a private side, the RIN Network…and a public side, for the marketing of listings, which was called Realtor.com.

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MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Realtor Information Network (RIN) REALTOR.COM

Public Access to MLS and REALTOR.com – 1995

In the early 1990s, there was a lot of broker and Industry fear of the public gaining access to the MLS. There was talk of MLS being so valuable, that it should be considered a public utility…regulated and controlled by the government. This presented a huge hurdle as I set out to introduce the Web as a new place to advertise listings as the Realtor Consultant for RIN.

When the WWW burst on to the scene, listings displayed as advertising could be mistaken for “public access” of MLS. I was acutely aware of the problems RIN would face promoting Realtor.com and convincing the Industry that the WWW was a great place to advertise should brokers begin to confuse the Web with public access. To socialize the difference, the first name I gave to Internet Advertising on REALTOR.com was the National Electronic Advertising Program (NEAP). That worked for awhile until my friend and colleague, Roy Rainey, complained that it was too long. So I changed it to EAP, and then IAP (Internet Advertising Program). It was later changed to RPA (Realtor Property Ads). Here is an early brochure:

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MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Realtor Information Network (RIN) REALTOR.COM

Realtors Information Network – Birthplace of REALTOR.com – Speaking Points

In 1994, a few studies had been completed and the ideas around just what needed to be built were formulating.

1994 RIN Speaking Points

1995 was the “Year of Execution” for RIN. Ed Evans was hired as RIN President and he brought in a staff from his previous employer, Comdisco, a disaster recovery firm. Maybe this was a premonition of things to come…Disaster Recovery.:

1995 Update to RIN Speaking Points

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MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Realtor Information Network (RIN) REALTOR.COM

First Realtor.com Demonstration

The first presentation was done for the Austin Association Board of Directors on black and white acetate overheads, which no longer exist. The first color set of overheads continue to exist in our archive. They were printed for me by Richard Janssen in the RealSelect Office the night before Richard and I flew to Detroit to demo to Kevin McQueen and the MLS he headed in 1995…I think it was the new RealComp.

The PowerPoint slides drilled down from the map of the US to the individual properties and agents as follows:

First Slide – HomePage – Displayed with an earlier post.

Second Slide – “Select the State for Your Home Search” – A map of the US with several locations pin pointed, but the only listings in the system at the time were through the San Diego MLS, Sandicor. The other pin points displayed were the expected pilots.

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Third Slide – “Select the City for Your Home Search” – Since the only listings in the system were in San Diego, Slide 3 showed California, with 3 dots…San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.The only location with listings was San Diego.

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Slide 4 – “Select area of San Diego for Your Home Search.” Here you could drill down by “Area.”

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Slide 5 – “Select area of San Diego for Your Home Search” – Here you could drill down to community level.

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Slide 6 – “National Association of REALTORS Home Search” – Enter property search criteria.

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Slide 7 – Search Results

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Slide 8 – Individual Property Showcased

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Slide 9 – Office Showcased

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Data Licensing MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

Data Exchange Method (DxM) – Not a New Concept

One of the difficulties in aggregating MLS data in 1996 (and today), was the fact that there are so many different data fields, and sometimes the same field may be identified by a different label, depending upon which MLS one belongs to (a bathroom may be labeled BA or BTH as an example). The proposed solutionby RIN and RIN’s Technology Partner, Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH – the same BAH  involved in the Snowden NSA leak case) was something known as DxM – Data Exchange Method. DxM was a “data dictionary.” Interestingly, in recent communications from RETS/RESO, DxM has new life today. The below, New Dimensions, has Jim Sherry’s take at the time.

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