Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Has Remine found a new way to launch a listing portal?

I don’t know how I got the job of MLS data cop. I guess ever since the whole thing happened with HouseCanary, I get MLS providers and Vendors asking me what I think about this and that.

Enter “the new Remine.com”. At first glance it appears that they have just taken public record data and matched it with Google Street Views. No active listings. But……there is a callout box that says “Curious about listings in your area? Match With An Agent”

So I clicked on the “Match With An Agent” box (Even I’m not brave enough to click on the box that said “Claim Your Home”).

I go through a process where I’m asked a series of questions and then presented with a few “top local” agents to choose from. Not sure what Remine does to qualify them as “Top”. The first time I did this I got agents from all over, not where I was looking to buy. After trying it a few times I saw an agent from Huntington Beach.

So I choose that agent.

I am then directed to create an account. Not with an agent, not with a broker, but with Remine.com.

So I created an account.

Bingo! Now I can see all active listings on the MLS!

Everything goes downhill from there. The site is just awful. It seems like every page reload prompts a message box asking “The website “remine.com” would like to use…”. I swear I must have given permission 50 times.

I also get spinners that last forever when I try and view photos and some photos don’t display. And for some reason there is no way that I can modify/change/add a new area on a saved search. I have to start every search all over again. Maddening. Remine have your QA guy call me. Seriously.

All of which is fine; they can fix these things. I get it…I make software for living; it’s a version one product.

But the thing is, I wasn’t taken to a personalized agent page. So, did I really create the sort of VOW required relationship? Is Remine a broker? Did the agent even know about this or me?

So I called the agent.

I got voicemail, so I left a message. He called right back. I told him that I was on a website and I was “matched” with him (this was about 24 hours after I created the account), and I asked if he knew anything about me. He said no, he had never heard of me. Based on his voicemail I think he was at another brokerage than the one listed on Remine.com, too. Yikes.

On one level I can see some real innovation here from Remine. Start with public record data and bait site visitors to see real listings. Cool, right? I recently recorded a podcast with Mark Schacknies , CEO of Remine. This guy is a serious cat, and they are definitely in it to win it. I can also appreciate the need to push boundaries. I’m all for it.

But I just can’t say that it’s completely kosher. Maybe, but if this is possible then why do other listing portals need agreements with MLS Providers? I mean Homes.com could just put a list of random agents on their site and get visitors to click on a button that says “match me with an agent” and Bingo, MLS listings!

This gets back to what many Vendors have been saying lately…Many MLS Providers give newer Vendors more leeway, and existing vendors get slapped on the wrist or denied for every….little….thing. Sour grapes? Whining? Maybe.

It’s a tough balance and competition is getting rough. But here’s the thing, and those who attended the CMLS conference will understand.

Chip had a point.

[Quick side note HouseCanary has done a complete mea culpa and have been very diligent on following proper MLS data licensing rules. Big shout out to Russell and team]

[UPDATE: Remine has decided to disable the Agent Match feature on their website. It will revisit the feature at a later time. Here is their statement.]

  1. I could not agree more with this article about not being kosher. I invited 5 clients of mine after our MLS Remine training and have had three clients call me about getting multiple calls a day now from mortgage lenders asking if they are looking for financing. Interestingly, all three of them got the free credit report thing so I am never doing that again. I have contacted Remine but received no response. I did not even know about the agent matching. I can tell you my brokerage will be livid to learn that this MLS vendor can take consumers interested in our listings and match them with other random agents. No MLS should allow this and the question is did our MLS even know about this before it launched?

  2. Greg,

    Thanks again for sharing Remine’s story with your audience.

    We’d like to clarify some of the misinformation and restate the facts:

    – You can only see MLS data on Remine.com by invitation from an Agent, or from “matching” to an Agent.
    – Agent invitations account for more than 90% of all traffic, and this is done easily from an Agent’s SOI (e.g. they can invite contacts from their phone or CRM). The most common invitation is when an Agent sets up their Client with a Saved Search. The benefit to the Client is the they get a unified search experience with their Agent, and the benefit to the Agent is they get to see their Clients feedback loop (e.g. what are they clicking on, sharing, liking, etc)
    – Less commonly, we get organic visitors. They are not allowed to see any MLS data without “matching” to an Agent first. The first question we ask is always “Are you working with an Agent?” If yes, they simply select which one. In the rare case that they are not, then they go through our matching process. (Greg, this least common scenario, is what your experienced.)
    – Our “matching” is based off of Agents who are dues paying members of the MLS, in good status, with active or recent transactions in that immediate area, and then randomized, hence why you saw different Agents. Remine does not collect any referral revenue from leads via Remine. This is simply an Agent benefit.
    – And 100% of all consumers see their Agent’s attribution persistent throughout their experience so that Agent remains top of mind.
    – PS. Gavin, no mortgage lenders have access to your leads. No one has access to your Clients information.

    About Remine:

    – Remine is a modern MLS platform for 51 MLS to more than 1 million Agents.
    – Our mission is simple: We want to build the world’s best real estate technology for MLS’s, Brokers, Agents and their Clients.

    If anyone would like more information, or to see a demo, please email me at mark@remine.com.

  3. This example highlights the importance of MLS policy advancing beyond its current technologically specific framework.

    Assuming Remine has permission from each MLS for this specific use case, they have put forth an example of how MLS data can be used in different ways to power innovation intended to benefit MLS participants outside traditional IDX/VOW functionality. Current IDX policy, by its definition, is narrow and bound to specific technology, limiting innovation.

    A good blueprint to follow is the FTC’s Truth in Advertising law, which specifies simply that an advertisement must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence, but is not bound to specific forms of advertising. It applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears.

    IDX policy needs to evolve beyond technological constraints to focus on how brokers co-market MLS listings, to ensure co-marketing is truthful, not misleading, clearly identifies the listing firm and listing agent, and prevents brokers from modifying or manipulating information relating to other brokers listings. These same standards should apply regardless of — and without restricting — the type of technology a broker chooses to deploy their marketing.

    As you point out in your post, It’s not clear whether this new Remine product would pass a “fair, truthful, and not misleading” standard. And until MLS policy evolves, new innovation will continue to push these boundaries and cause more debate.

  4. Thank you for the kind note at the bottom, Greg – and great seeing you in SLC! We have spent a lot of time and energy this year earning back trust and becoming an MLS participant.

  5. Remine.com brings to the forefront a few things that MLS vendors have historically NOT been permitted to do:

    1) display MLS data publicly, except through agent invitation;
    2) capture consumer information for marketing purposes;
    3) host MLS consumer portals on a proprietary URL gaining brand awareness and SEO for our own benefit.

    As a legacy MLS vendor, I applaud Greg for bringing visibility and much needed dialogue to this seeming shift in vendor permissions. Our teams intend to fully participate in this conversation and engage with our customers and partners to ensure that we continue to evolve, to serve their needs, and meet their expectations.

  6. How does the “matching with an agent” approach work? I’m sure every vendor reading this who has licensed MLS data wishes it was this straightforward.

    I just gave a short presentation at RESO about how complicated and nuanced MLS licencing rules are. Factor in MLS, association, and state rules this becomes mind numbing.

    If a vendor could match a consumer with any agent, based on recent sales data and without explicitly establishing a broker-client relationship through the actions of the user and ToS, they would have a portal/syndication agreement. If they had a portal agreement wouldn’t they expose MLS data for the sake of SEO?

    Also, given that they have 1.1M agents, I’m assuming they don’t have IDX agreements since almost every MLS requires a three-way agreement between the vendor/agent and MLS. That’s a LOT of paperwork. If acting as an AVP and providing a VOW is equally, if not, more complicated.

  7. As Greg properly noted, innovation is a great thing and everyone has a right to push for it. However, matching independent consumers generated on your portal with preselected individual agents to unlock complete MLS access is inconsistent with how MLS vendors are expected to operate and will not sit well with participants and subscribers.

  8. @John I was thinking about you guys, the way the new Remine.com site is setup is a very clever way to compete against BPP/Homesnap. It could also serve as a public facing portal for MLS Providers that don’t have one.

    Problem is MLS Providers have usually partnered with BPP for a reason (brokers), and chosen not to have a public facing website for a reason (brokers).

    But I gotta believe either the site is buggy and isn’t showing proper process or Remine has their licensing ducks in a row to pull this off. It will be interesting to see how MLS Providers react.

  9. Greg, I feel compelled to follow-up more pointedly. I cannot let the implications that sit beneath your post go unchallenged.

    We did not earn the trust of over 50 MLS partners – people we work with and for every day – by playing games with their data.

    We earned that trust by adding value. Creating better software faster. Listening to them, responding, and never sitting still.

    Do we make mistakes? Sometimes move too fast? Assume we are communicating fully when we can do better?

    Guilty as charged.

    But the reality is that incumbency and stagnation doesn’t work for the MLS community anymore. As an entrepreneur whose own business was predicated on the idea of doing things better than the old software, the old solutions, you know that.

    Now, the details:

    The flow you point out above does present some bugs. And the truth is it is not a significant element of the Remine platform. We have deactivated it and will activate it again only in cases where an MLS partner wants that and we can tailor the flow to their specific preferences.

    As you often say, “we are all in this together.” We respect your commitment to the MLS industry and community.

    Please understand that we share it.

  10. So in the end, it sounds like you didn’t have permission from the MLSs involved, you got caught, and you rolled it back. That’s not pushing boundaries through innovation, that’s carelessness. Own it. Moving fast isn’t an excuse for disrespecting MLS rules. Innovate responsibly.

  11. @Mark Sounds like the right move. I always thought it might be an oversight or bug. Sorry about the drama. MLS data licensing rules always seem like a puzzle for me to solve. As @Andy states it’s only going to get more complicated; like how are we going handle listing attribution with speech or VR?

  12. Pingback: Listing Bits Episode 53: Radical Transparency & the Remine Pivot – with Mark Schacknies - Vendor Alley | Vendor Alley

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