Category : Major Real Estate Portals

Data Licensing Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

Exclusivity of Listing Data on the Web

The NFL allows the Super Bowl to be broadcast exclusively. Consumers have no problem with that and they know where to look to find out when and where to view a Super Bowl.

It is time to consider the concept of exclusivity once again, as it pertains to the www.

I was an exclusivity advocate in 1998, and this is what I had to say about it then:

Take Back Your Future

In 1995 I traveled the country meeting with MLS and association leadership in an attempt to convince them that the future of marketing property was on the Internet. I stressed that the MLSs needed to participate in order to maintain relevance and even control in an environment where it was said that control was being lost and all attempts to control listing information would prove futile.

At that time it seemed logical to me that if REALTORS® placed all their listings on one web site, the critical mass would draw consumers — and the fact that the information was only available on one site would boost the value of that site, much the same as a network contract to air the Super Bowl was a boon to the network.

In 1998 when Microsoft entered the fray, I thought it would be a good idea to step back and take a look at what MS had to offer and also look at the possible consequences of  any decision not to work with the most powerful technology company in the world.

After examining the situation for over a year, I am convinced that the place for REALTORS® listings are on:

  • Local MLS or association site
  • Company and/or franchise site

I am also convinced, based on observation over the last year, that REALTORS® should not place their listings on:

  • HomeAdvisor
  • HomeSeekers
  • Any other national site

Two prevailing arguments today are:

1) Putting your listings on as many sites as possible will increase your exposure and result in better service for the seller and the buyer (consumer). — advertising a property for sale on multiple sites helps sell the property faster/ better/cheaper

This has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction, yet it is widely touted by web entities trying to get your listing information to create a viable business model for their web site.

To the contrary, concentrating all the listings on one site will make marketing expenses more cost effective. One site makes it easy for the consumer – the same consumer who right now is being overwhelmed with choices, including some with unreliable data.

2) Putting your listings on one site,, will create a more convenient way for consumers to find all the listings in one spot operated by  a company that must conform by written agreement to certain constraints and concerns of NAR and its members.

Cost effective marketing of Site:

If all the marketing of all the REALTOR family of associations and MLSs goes into marketing, more exposure possible

Realtor organizations can promote the services of their members.

It’s time to begin to “take back your future.” Brokers and MLSs need to maintain control over this precious commodity.  With control in hand, they can decide when/how to license it to others with or without restrictions. That is what John L Scott wants, Cendant….argue you can have better control if you are dealing with one major portal….with many aggregators you never really know what all they might be doing with the data (like Homeseekers).

As I was walking around the NAR Trade Show floor in Orlando last week, it became rather obvious that too much of something is not necessarily a good thing. With all those products and technology gadgets, it was easy to see how REALTORS® can be overwhelmed with choices.

So it is with consumers as they see property listings all over the Net and in various forms of presentation. It makes sense to me that many consumers will gravitate to a central portal where they can consistently find reliable data that is well-policed and current…a place where they can enter their profile and know that they will be alerted as matching properties are entered into the system.

As brokers we know that CONTROL is the key…and control over our most

important asset – the listing – is critical to our survival. The more you release the data, the more you lose control.   The IC has aimed its marketing campaign at the agent/broker keeping control of their Web Presence so that they have a section for their own listings and another section for other property listings.  The broker does not want their listings appearing all over the Net subject to manipulation by other brokers and by third party vendors.  Internet exposure is desired, but it needs to be in a controlled setting…if it is not working out, it is much easier to change permissions/contracts with one party than with an almost unknown number of web aggregators.

As mentioned on RealTalk, we need to be careful how much we give away:

So has anyone considered that EVERY TIME we GROAN that someone else is

slipping into the middle – taking a slice of the cheese – that it’s NOT that some brilliant dot-com idea has TAKEN it – it’s more like brokers have GIVEN it away… simply by participating like a bunch of currying, starving listing-appointment pr*stitutes eager to pay anything for any marketing opportunity at any price.

Financial gain for NAR


Offered Shares at IPO: 7,000,000 shares

NAR Ownership: 6.8% (476,000 shares)…at $52 per share, that’s $24,752,000


Common Stock Outstanding after IPO: 67,037,860 shares

NAR Ownership: 6.8% (4,558,574 shares) at a price yet to be determined. Assuming that price is $25 per share…$113,964,362


Here’s a quote from NAR after Orlando (fouind in ORP)  —  To help pay for the $8.6 million in initiatives the board approved, members voted to stop setting aside $4.5 million annually for reserves. The annual set-aside is no longer needed, said Yassky. NAR has $23 million in reserves plus $12 million from the sale of its old Washington, D.C., building and owns 4.5 million shares of, the operator of REALTOR.COM, which was worth an estimated $235 million in mid-November.

Local Association/MLS


Gold Alliance examples:An MLS in from the start – these guys took the greatest risk and should be rewarded accordinglyAn MLS in now



  • Promotional opportunities
  • White Paper Format
  • Introduction
  • Overview
  • Background
  • Business Proposition
  • Solutions



  • Make the site you have the most control over the most powerful site on the Internet
  • Other vendors misuse data

No doubt about it, has to commit the resources to counter the argument that it takes too long to upload listings and photos.  They are really exposed on this point and homeseekers can play on that weakness.


I think they now upload daily to 1 million of 1.4 million listings


Critical mass


More valuable


Sticking together makes everyone’s interests more valuable


NAR ownership – NAR owns the hardware and the software and the Domain (


No evidence that having listings on multiple sites results in more, or faster sales


Create argument for the power of having all the listings in one spot…like the classified ads

Promotion of REALTOR


  1. COM best leverages the Internet to the benefit and protection of REALTORS of any national real estate website.
  2. Selecting REALTOR.COM as the national listing site of choice for REALTOR listings is in the best long term interests of the REALTOR community
  3. COM’s classified business model does not compete with REALTORS
  4. Ensuring a REALTORS’ web presence is linked to REALTOR.COM is a vital part of a REALTORS’ Internet marketing strategy.
  5. NAR owns the REALTOR.COM website; RealSelect operates the website for NAR
  6. COM is the only national website that has lifetime contractual benefits and protections for REALTORS


Anti-Trust considerations:


Paulson Case

Thompson Case

Current San Diego Case

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Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Public Portals REALTOR.COM

The Future Of Listings Online – It May Not What You Have Been Conditioned To Believe

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

The Opportunity

  • 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.


  • Consumers
  • Agents
  • Brokers
  • Associations/MLSs
  • Franchisors
  • Vendors
  • Consultants
  • Portals


  • 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

  • Zillow
  • Trulia

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

Industry Friendly

  • Other MLS/Association Portals
  • Broker Portals
  • Agent Portals
  • Franchisors
  • 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
  • Education
  • Bringing the consumer and the REALTOR® together

Member Benefit

Sending leads back to members In a REALTOR® Friendly way

Emphasis on:

  • Mobile
  • Millennial
  • Social
  • Gaming
  • Learning
  • Community
  • Content
  • Search
  • Display
  • 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


  • Vision
  • Organizational structure
  • Resources
  • Budget
  • New Hires – a few
  • Responsibility
  • Authority
  • Accountability

MLS Portals

  • 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





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Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Organization Of the Real Estate Industry REALTOR.COM

Where Does the Data Come From? Primarily from Members of an Association of REALTORS

“For Sale” Data, is the “Oxygen” of real estate portals such as Zillow, Trulia, and

The deepest, richest, most accurate and timely comes from Multiple Listing Services (MLS).

MLSs are typically owned by an association of REALTORS, or a group of Associations of REALTORS. A group of Associations owning an MLS would probably be considered a Regional MLS.

An MLS is either a separate corporate entity of an owner Association(s), or a Committee of an Association.

The data in an MLS data base is acquired through the hard wok of real estate professionals, in most cases, REALTORS, who belong to an Association of REALTORS, and its MLS.

These associations are housed in unique building across North America…there are over 1300 Associations of REALTORS, and about 850 Multiple Listing Services.

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Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals

Data Inferiority Is the Future for Zillow – Why Not Renewing with ListHub/Move may prove costly

Without MLS feeds, Zillow’s data will be inferior in a number of ways, under the current residential real estate sales paradigm, one at which MLS is the hub for listing data and the “First Point of Entry” in local markets.

Also, there are lots of ways to get listing data, some ways more expensive than others. The cheapest way is from MLS. ZT’s success in obtaining direct feeds from MLSs in the past has not been stellar. I did not say that this would put Zillow out of business, just that it is a blow. They will spend more money on data aggregation. Zillow knew about the Point2 acquisition by Listhub, and have always been working on alternative data sources. At this point, the gravy train is over. You have to pay for the data one way or another. This creates an opportunity, If other forces come to fruition, the size of the blow will be minor, or significant.

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Data Licensing Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals

No more listings for Zillow. Trulia must be next

Just released – Listhub (MOVE) will not be renewing its data contract with Zillow. This has to be a blow to Zilllow and has been a foregone conclusion since MOVE purchased the syndication asset from Point2 last September. Again, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed this saga. I wrote about the possibility last month.

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Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Public Portals

Real Estate Syndication Consortium

Back in July, I circulated the seeds of a “position paper” I had in mind, internally, to the leadership at Yardi, and I also circulated it to a few “industry giants.”

I knew that Yardi (then owner of Point2 and the number 2 syndication capability in the Industry) had decided not to dedicate any more resources to the Point2 syndication product. This was about to create a huge hole, and for the right party or parties, an even bigger opportunity.

There were strategic as well as tactical benefits for specific entities that might be willing to step up to the “data distribution” plate, as Yardi was stepping away. Listhub already controlled the biggest network and stood to gain much if it could acquire Point2. Zillow and Trulia seemed to be at greater risk if Point2 were to fall into the hands of Listhub…which then fell into the hands of NEWSCORP.

The September acquisition of Point2 syndication by Listhub (which is owned by MOVE) puts MOVE in a very strong position to regain the number one position it held for so many years. I think we may begin to see some of the results of MOVE’s recent acquisition  of Point2 Syndication when the Zillow and Trulia data contracts with Listhub expire…sooner rather than later. 

What is needed is an Industry syndication alternative. This is the time for disruption, for “taking back the future” by the industry. Conversations and meetings are already taking place. A Public Portal effort with a new syndication effort is a multi billion dollar proposition, and is a possibility if the right entities “join hands.”

I have been saying for a number of years that the value of the MLS data, properly packaged and distributed, should be able to pay the cost of the MLS infrastructure, and a whole lot more, and in a way that is not adversarial, or in conflict with the best interests of the brokerage community, the MLS and association communities, and consumers.

Back to July…here is what I was advocating to a small group: 

Real Estate Syndication Consortium

Create an organization of interested parties who will benefit from more uniformed and structured data resources from MLSs nationwide. This can be done by placing in motion a process whereby MLSs will begin to control their data once again, through the Intellectual Property (data contracts) and Leadership and influence offered by this organization.


Billion dollar enterprises are wrestling and positioning for their share; expectations are that huge commerce will be made in the real estate online marketplace, and all that entails…from advertising, media, and “upstream lookyloos” to the transaction platform and closing, and all of the commerce that may spring from that major event — the purchase or sale of a home. Multiples for companies in this space are unusually high.

There is much at stake, and yet much rides on a major choke point, data acquisition and data rights.

All of the activity pre and post purchase in a lifetime relationship with the consumer in the area of real estate needs is the goal of many portals today, and all of the data that can be derived therefrom.

What all of these companies (save one) lack is reliable long term access to the consistent flow of accurate, dynamic data.

Access to that data is fragmented and of varying degree of accuracy and freshness. What many entities, looking to make commerce in this space all need, the key element, is access to MLS data, which is policed, and made available with varying depth of information, by the different MLSs (Data Providers).


We have moved from Syndication Evolution to Syndication Revolution in the past 6 months, and it is just beginning. The Industry at the broker, MLS, and agent levels are ready to take control of their data, with new, data agreements developed in a way to insure there is a fair exchange of value for the information.

Brokers, MLSs, have learned much since syndication was brought front and center in the Industry in 2008, with the prevailing thought being “Distribution trumps destination.” Data, its value, and the value of the data created by the data, was being considered by few inside the Industry.

 Current State of the Industry:

There are 3 ways for third parties to obtain this data, at varying expense, and benefit (this was written in July, and now Point2 and Listhub are ONE):

  • Listub – Owned by one of the “Big Three” real estate portals, – Growing stronger
    • Point2 – Owned by Yardi – weakening and little resource available to make it better
    • Direct Feeds – The choice of major portals, which would benefit in the long run from a more reliable source of data, not controlled by a major competitor

There is great misunderstanding within the industry around data rights and the licensing of those rights, but that is changing and this creates a disruptive opportunity.

In addition, the value proposition provided by those currently using MLS data (Zillow, Trulia et al, received from Point2 at no cost) is being questioned at all levels of the residential real estate sales industry (the Industry).

There is great dissatisfaction with the portals, and with the MLSs by the brokerage community.

The time is now right to use the strengths of the Industry to anchor its position for the future. Those strengths being the data collected by the army of REALTORS who work for free until a transaction closes, and the organization of MLSs across the US and Canada that makes the real estate marketplace in North America the envy of the world. The Industry can now capitalize on the fruits of this labor, for the benefit of:

  • Practitioners at all levels
  • Associations and MLSs
  • Media
  • Consumer

There is an opportunity for major players currently in this space to achieve a number of their individual goals by working together on the Real Estate Data Syndication Consortium project.*

 Purpose of the Organization:

To achieve mutually beneficial goals and objectives around the accumulation, manipulation and dissemination of real estate listing data provided to the public by MLSs, brokers, and franchises, for the benefit of group members, industry stakeholders, and, ultimately, Consumers.

Examples of Benefits:

  • Alternative to Listhub
  • Rewrite syndication model in the residential real estate industry today

Include data rights in a transparent way, and in a fair exchange of value with portals and those desiring the use of the Industry data.

There should be enough money in the data food chain, behavioral and advertising, that the infrastructure in the industry, currently costing the industry over a billion dollars a year (made up, check real number from Clareity…it is a lot).

What entities have an interest and might participate in this “Movement.”


Expenses – 3 year proposed time to accomplish goals and objectives. With possibilities new opportunities will arise.

Funding could be through a group of investors yet undetermined; the companies mentioned here, and/or others.


  • Organize and fund as necessary
  • Create the Data Contract Standard – Stake in the Sand
  • Negotiate with Data Recipients
  • Consult with MLS and Brokerage community
  • Charge for the data, and/or data handling and delivery to destination sites
  • Timetable


Standard data contracts in place and constructed to allow for the continued evolution of the value of the data created by the real estate Industry with the first major goal to be a new funding mechanism for MLS.

Now is the time to take the next step  to change the monetization model of MLS data from lead generation and sales, to the participation in the value created by the information, and by the information created by the information….

Considering the above, the days of dominance of the current portal superpowers may be numbered.

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Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

MLS Data has value

Data concerns – 1998. What we knew then is even more relevant today, and sharing that data will allow interlopers to get upstream…and you will pay a toll down stream.

Why do we now think MLSs should offer their data to Real Estate portals at no cost to the portal?What if MLSs backed off, and let those brokers who desire, to send the data directly to portals?Data Memo - 1998

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Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals

Paying for Leads with Guaranteed ROI – A Possible Future

There is a way for marketing and media companies and websites to participate in the real estate compensation food chain without participating in the transaction (they don’t need to be in the brokerage business). Their task is to build the trust and confidence of consumers, entice them to “play on the portals (even when consumers are not interested in buying or selling real estate). Portals (media companies) must, by whatever means, control the “upstream” and they will become the owners of the space as the consumer “First Point of Contact.” This is now taking place. It has the potential to alter the biggest time sink in the business, prospecting. Prepare to pay for this convenience. The next step is seeing two distinct brokerage models…those with their own upstream strategy and technology, and those that have to plug into the big players that win the battle for eyeballs. Of course whoever wins, needs your MLS data to day to get to their ultimate goal. At some point watch for them to be able to guarantee ROI on the leads they sell, based on the consumer behavioral data they accumulate. Want a lead with a 99% close probability in 30 days? That will be $3000. Or would you prefer a lead with a 50% probability of close in 60 days for $100? Remember this…Leads with guaranteed ROI.

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