Mike Wurzer must be rolling his eyes every time he reads Inman News lately. Its 2016 and the industry has finally caught up with him and his company, FBS. Back in May of 2012 (yes you read that correctly, 4 years ago) FBS announced its Spark Platform, which includes the Spark API. Which gave software developers two great things, an easy way to get MLS data and permission to sell their products to any of their flexmls customers. The Spark API allowed us to get Cloud CMA up in running in “long tail” MLS markets that we may not have served due to size or some other challenge.
Now, along with AMP, two others have joined the fray. Zillow and CoreLogic. Zillow with its Retsly Connect initiative and CoreLogic with its Trestle initiative. So since a big component of these initiatives is to target software developers to make cool stuff, and I happen to run a software company that makes cool stuff I thought I would give a quick run down of the pros and cons of each.
Owned by NAR. RPRs effort to provide a back-end database to MLS providers has announced they have MLS providers representing over 200,000 agents interested in AMP. That’s a lot of agents, and as a software company I like the size of that market.
Owned by NAR. Nobody that I know have has seen any API documentation, and it still isn’t clear how the revenue model would work for 3rd party software developers integrating with AMP.
Zillow’s Retsly Connect
Owned by Zillow. Sexy technology, we used their Public Records API in Cloud Streams and were impressed. Retsly Connect looks equally cool, and lots of bells and whistles I think MLS providers would like (which is why I think Bob Hale signed up).
Owned by Zillow. They have a chicken and egg problem. They currently have only 6 MLS providers signed up (and I think a third of them are in Canada). So, they are going to need to get some sort of traction for developers to write for the platform, but also need more coverage to entice developers to do so.
Big company. Knows data. They have over 300 MLS databases. Some of them the largest MLS providers in the country. That a HUGE market potential. If the Spark API provided the “long tail” MLS markets, CoreLogic would provide the freaking Elephant.
Big company. Not launching until Q3 of this year. No API info, no revenue model announced.
For the record our plans at W+R Studios is to be platform agnostic and make our products work on any platform our customers want. But, I still want to give
a couple words of advice:
1. Try and stay away from an App Store model. I’ve been a big proponent of an “Agent App Store” in the past but it has been very brutal to get agents to change their purchasing behavior. Maybe in the post “front end of choice” world things might change, but that’s a big if.
2. Your initiative must include data access rights AND permission to sell. Make it an opt-out for MLS providers. One without the other will not scale. If I build something fast and it takes 6 months to get approval from your MLS committee to sell it, then these initiatives are essentially worthless.
In the end competition is a good thing. I think the next few years are going to be very exciting times for real estate technology. Sometimes all it takes is just a spark.