Public MLS Portals are controversial…but, if done right, they can make sense, as the Houston Association of REALTORS (HAR) and Bob Hale, its CEO, continue to advise the Industry at every opportunity (Bob is one of my industry heroes, and he introduced me to Uber when we spent a week in the Las Vegas Airport one day!).
HAR claims that it is the number one real estate portal in its market. While that may be disputed by some, it is an impressive feat to be close to first, if not first.
Might MLS public portals, within well-defined criteria, be the next step in the never-ending saga of syndication and data distribution?
The recent conversations of the NAR MLS Committee regarding MLS levels of service, and the Realty Alliance Fair Display Guidelines have brought the subject of MLS and Association Public Portals “front and center.”
Is it possible to build a Public Portal that:
1. Benefits Brokers
2. Benefits Agents
3. Benefits MLSs
4. Benefits Associations
5. Benefits Franchisers
In other words, benefits all major stakeholders, and…
6. A portal that Consumers love with robust and relevant data, true search, less advertising, mobile, parcel based (property wiki), cool technology, with acceptable privacy terms.
A number of major entities, including Point2, think so, and are creating Public Portal products for associations and MLSs. The Point2 Public Portal product is a world-class website that complies with the Fair Display Guidelines and does not require dues dollars for support, but instead shares advertising revenue with the MLSs and Associations.
Competition in the MLS Public-facing Website space includes big name players –
Not a true public facing portal until recently; in the past it integrated find a home and find a realtor into its member site. Here’s a demo of their new comprehensive Rapattoni Integrated Website Service (IWS) – http://www.rapattoni.com/multimedia/player/player.asp?v=IWSDemoVideoShortVersion.mp4&w=864&h=540&title=Rapattoni+Integrated+Website+Service
New Orleans Metro looks like their first true public facing portal http://www.nomar.org/
As noted in Vendor Alley, Rapattoni is entering the public facing website game with its Rapattoni Integrated Website Service (IWS). “As with their other product the new IWS works with their existing applications, which seems to be an advantage over non-MLS vendor solutions. More and more MLS vendors are adding this type of solution to their offerings. In some cases, like Solid Earth, it is becoming a “tent pole” type of product.”
Real Estate Digital (RED) – LPS
• Operated by former LPS executives; MLS consultants
• Entering the public-facing website arena – http://realestatedigital.com/consumer-portal/
Notice the similarity with the promotional message offered by the various public portal competitors –
From RED: “Why should national real estate websites monopolize all the money from your Broker, Agent and MLS listings?
Create your own public website that displays and promotes listings and open houses – and more importantly drives traffic and leads to your member sites and REVENUE to your organization.
Create a Lead-Generating Engine for Non-Dues Revenue. The MLS Consumer Portal is a customizable, public-facing website, where consumers can search for Open Houses and Active listings, find their Agent or research local school and neighborhood information. Best of all, the leads and inquiries go directly back to the Agent and/or Broker of Record. Include our REALM Advertising Network and now your MLS Portal is generating revenue and working for you!
• sample site: http://www.recolorado.com/
• Offers a Value Estimates tool “What’s your home worth?”
“A public multiple listing website that not only delivers added value to brokers and agents, it provides consumers with something they cannot get from many other sites—truly localized listings and information. Make your association’s public website the one-stop shop for real estate in your market with a custom-designed Website from CoreLogic. Detailed listings, frequent updates, highly accurate “locals only” information, agent searches and much more provide a comprehensive picture of your local real estate market.
Become the #1 Provider of Public Property Information in Your Market. An effective public multiple listing web site can deliver real value to your brokers and agents by promoting REALTORS® to the public and providing a friendly, consumer-centric real estate portal with the best property information on the Internet. Stop other web sites from stealing your members’ leads! Your multiple listing organization should be the one-stop real estate web site in your market. This service is available to real estate boards/associations and multiple listing organizations.”
–http://homelasvegas.com – CoreLogic embeds the local market statistics they provide.
• Advertising Network – http://www.corelogic.com/products/corelogic-real-estate-ad-network.aspx
- The large Mid Florida MLS announced to its members that it was going to include “neutral” advertising – “The ads will appear on the home page, search results, find-an-agent page and property detail pages. While consumers will see premier brands, they’ll never see ads from brokerages, agents or real estate franchises.” Advertising launch announcement: http://www.mfrmls.com/news/815-myfloridahomesmlscom-advertising-launch
We are partnering with clients to make technology accessible, useful, and valuable to real estate professionals.
- Other Services:
SpringAPI – The Spring API will connect developers and vendors interested in serving the Real Estate industry with real-time access to the data sets our clients have created. (marketingHYPERLINK “http://solidearth.com/products/spring/” page)
They service 24 MLSs mostly in Alabama, southeast) – http://solidearth.com/about/ including Staten Island
,Charleston, North Alabama Regional.
- Sample public portal sites:
Chattanooga – https://homes.gcar.net/
Emerald Coast – http://www.emeraldcoasthomesonline.com/(S(pzwwbymtt4ym2nahljscm3y4))/default.aspx
- Other Products/Services: APIs
-Spring: Pay-For-Use Business Model – Spring will allow client organizations a way out of the aging $/user model and into a more stable, sustainable pay-for-use approach. High-end users invest in necessary services and low-end users are shielded from waste expense. An attractive bolt-on opportunity – Client organizations need not purchase “all or nothing” with Spring. Spring can grow slowly along side a legacy product allowing an organization wishing to avoid mass upheaval among membership to offer Spring to eager early adopters. Complete Ad Network where Ad Revenue will be supplemental to the Spring business model and allow for meaningful revenue share opportunities back to the client organization. Built on an Application Programming Interface (API) – Solid Earth maintains relationships with 27 outside vendors; all of whom access the underlying database.
MLS Direct Syndication — http://www.big-llc.com/index.jsp
A big supporter is the Huntsville Alabama MLS and their public-facing website is http://www.valleymls.com/(S(fn5g120bgxx2ltqt5ef2f1bk))/default.aspx
Their message: It is time for MLS and Brokers to take full control of their valuable content. MLS Direct Syndication puts power in your hands in several important ways:
•Direct feeds to each recipient ensure that you know who has legitimate access to your listing feed, and therefore who should not.
•Listing feed recipients must abide by MLS terms and conditions for use. MLS can immediately suspend feeds to any group found to be out of compliance.
•MLS and MLS members decide where leads and links are directed.
•MLS Direct Syndication allows data managers and creators to charge for data access if desired. Our MLS Direct Syndication solution provides an automated process for billing.
•MLS members can determine precisely where their listings will appear, and changes can be made easily at any time.
All of these active players in the MLS public-facing website space have a common goal, namely helping the MLS in the area of competing with the large national portals for consumer traffic and agent lead generation.
DREAM? REALITY? or SOMETHING IN BETWEEN?