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
  • REALTOR.com

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, Realtor.com, 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 Realtor.com, 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 dot.com 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 HomeStore.com, 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

 

Control

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

Conclusion

 

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

No doubt about it, realtor.com 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

Control

More valuable

 

Sticking together makes everyone’s interests more valuable

 

NAR ownership – NAR owns the hardware and the software and the Domain (Realtor.com)

 

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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