Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Is HouseCanary improperly displaying MLS data?

Sure looks like it. Multiple MLS providers have confirmed that listing data showing up on HouseCanary‘s website, ComeHome.com, don’t have an agreement to display this information publicly.

It appears the source of the data comes from Nextdoor, which announced a partnership with House Canary back July 2018.

Eric Stegemann, founder of TRIBUS, noticed something suspicious when Nextdoor recently started asking him to send data through HouseCanary and reported it on Facebook.

Good on Eric for reporting this.

The two questions I have are this.

  1. Is HouseCanary that clueless about MLS data or do they just don’t care?
  2. How long has this been going on, and have they been using illegal MLS data to power their AVM?

My advice to MLS providers is to check ComeHome.com and see if any of your data is up there and if they are in violation.

UPDATE: I got a call from HouseCanary. They are strongly denying this report from Eric, saying that they have agreements in place with all MLS Providers for which they are displaying data. The question is if those agreements (if they exist) allow them to publicly display MLS data. The rep I talked to on the phone wasn’t totally sure, and said they would check (lame!) They also didn’t like my title, “Is HouseCanary stealing MLS data?”. I’ve given it some thought and have changed the title. Developing…

  1. At TRIBUS, we have a duty to protect our clients’ data and best interests. It’s up to the broker to make the decision where and how their data appears. If HouseCanary does have MLS agreements in place, then great, everything is above board.

    But I can’t recommend to one of my clients, in good conscience, to sign an agreement that gives another company the right to do whatever they want with the listing data. Listing data is sacred. Getting that data handed to you is a privilege not a right.

    I hope I’m wrong, I hope everything is above board and that MLS execs were mistaken in their interpretations or understanding of the agreements. But I’m worried that’s just not true and now 100s of thousands or maybe more than a million listing, their photos, list prices, etc are all out of the bag.

  2. I’m reminded that Trulia kicked off by scraping data – maybe this is a case of asking for forgiveness when discovered, rather than prior permission …

  3. Many vendors I’ve encountered over the years just convince (pay) a broker to give them their credentials to their MLS data feed. Some brokers think they have the right to do this with the other MLS Paricipant’s data. It is a problem.

  4. I’ve had a chance to review some of the buyer reports put together by HouseCanary this past week. HC allows the user to see the datasource (HouseCanary, Public Records, or MLS) and on these reports a lot of the property details were missing from all three sources (the basics) so I wonder if they’ve pulled back some of the data.

    The API, however, is fully robust based on a dump I got. At Homebloq, we have an agreement with the MLS and part of it is not providing that data free to consumers, it must be through a broker-client relationship, so this raises the question of legality if HC is trying to build a Zillow-like portal.

    It’s also strange that ComeHome, at least in my neck of the woods, doesn’t display property photos, which are potentially copyrighted (just like the broker’s blurb – which is missing, as neither are considered public data). Among other things that are required and missing are listing broker attribution and data source (MLS).

    It really looks like HC got caught here.

  5. The MLS should have disappeared long time ago.The MLS is an old system of doing business who does not fit to the nowadays younger consumers.It still believes on doing business behind the curtains. In a world we live today we do business on social networks where transparency is what people want, but the MLS choose to put an army to protect their data that basically is a public record.The MLS does not protect its own agents. It exist to extort money from hardworking agents.Those agents who believe in the MLS system. will be out of business.

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