Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

FBS fights screen scrapers to protect MLS data

Flexmls IDX: First to Gain Security Against Screen Scrapers

“In 2013, Clareity Consulting Chief Technologist, Matt Cohen wrote a blog that laid out the need for an industry-wide solution with important criteria for evaluating solutions available. In the end, he announced Distil Networks met that very specific criteria and endorsed them as a preferred partner for industry professionals seeking protection from screen scraping.

Here at FBS, we’re focused on delivering the very best product supported by world class service. Naturally, providing the highest level of security is part of that equation. To this end, we’re proud to be the first MLS provider to implement Distil’s powerful product as an extra security layer protecting Flexmls IDX websites.”

What I like about this is the industry collaboration aspect. Matt at Clareity has been banging the security drum for awhile now. Nice to see an MLS vendor is listening and take the lead on this. Gives me hope that more best practices will be implemented. Great win for Distil as well.

Recommendation to MLS Policy – November 2014

Good breakdown from Matt…

Recommendation to MLS Policy – November 2014

“While attending RESO meetings last week in Las Vegas, I heard that the RETS standard data dictionary would soon be ratified by RESO, and that the new Web API would be ratified by the middle of 2015. This is great news! While the data dictionary will continue to be improved, even adopting what we have in the data dictionary now will be a big deal, making it far easier for publishers, brokers, and other aggregators of MLS content to build applications and combine content from multiple MLSs. But, without adoption of these standards at the local level, this great promise will go unfulfilled. So, it is with great pleasure that I share the following information:”

Homes.com adds MLS direct feeds from 9 MLS providers.

Homes.com Adds Nine Direct MLS Feeds
Consumers visiting Homes.com will see more accurate listing information

“The display agreement provides Homes.com with data from the following MLS organizations: Houston Association of REALTORSÒ, California Regional MLS, MetroList Services (Sacramento area), Southland Regional Association of REALTORS (San Fernando Valley, CA), BAREIS (North San Francisco counties), MLSListings (Monterey to Silicon Valley), Intermountain MLS (Boise, Idaho), MLS Property Information Network (New England), and Midwest Real Estate Data (greater Chicago area).”

Super Impressive. Those are some of the largest and most respected MLS providers in the country. Plus think about the number of listings they have. This is a HUGE deal for Homes.com and win for consumers. If they keep this up their ListHub feeds might be regulated to just smaller MLS markets.

Then there’s this…

“Homes.com is an industry partner with a deep commitment to creating connections between real estate professionals and consumers. We believe that this starts with a direct relationship with local MLSs,” said Brock MacLean, executive vice president of Homes.com. “Through agreements with these nine MLS organizations, more than 200,000 MLS members will now be able to leverage traffic from more than 12.5 million homebuyers who visit Homes.com monthly, better connecting their member agents and brokers with active consumers.”

Riiiiight. It took a super connected dude like Brock McLean to get these deals done.

Zillow as Craigslist

Zillow: The most comprehensive list of real estate for sale in America.

“In addition, we all know that every house is for sale. As a consumer, what better place is there to research homes that are not on the market? It doesn’t matter if the data is perfect. As a consumer, it’s the *best* I can find. Go ahead and tell me the data sucks. I don’t care. My bet is, neither do many of your customers.”

Spot on analysis from Todd. Looks like he doesn’t care to “find it first“. Also, I wonder why he used Zillow in his analysis instead of Trulia?

Agent gets sued, for someones else’s listing on his IDX site.

This is making the rounds and I thought it was interesting enough to post.

Jeff Launiere

“I have found an interesting question has arisen. Can a real estate agent who has an MLS feed, be sued for a listing with illegal language in the listing, even if that listing is not that agents? Up until recently I would have said no.

However, last year I had a Federal Lawsuit filed against me for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Apparently, an Independent Fair Housing Tester went to my website, scanned the listings and found one with illegal language in it, then filed a Federal Fair Housing Lawsuit against me.

The lawsuit claims I am the listing agent. I am not, but obviously the Independent Fair Housing Tester believed because all 13,000 plus listings are on my website it must mean they are my listings.

The lawsuit then gives the property address, and I quickly realize that I have never listed a home, or sold a home in that city. So I contact my Broker, and then the company attorney. I send all documentation showing that I have nothing to do with this listing, and forward the actual listing, which shows who the listing agent is.”

Big mistake right? Now lets enter the Twilight Zone….

“I am told to ignore the lawsuit and they will handle everything, and will work to get the lawsuit against me dismissed.

It seemed that the lawsuit would be invalid, since the lawsuit says I am the listing agent, but I am not. It says that the wording in my listing, which said “Adults Only, No Children Under 16 Allowed,” has caused the Independent Fair Housing Tester pain, suffering and she will have to live through a lifetime of embarrassment. Since it is not my listing, and I never used these words, obviously I am not liable.

Suddenly this week I get a call from the Company Attorney who tells me the lawsuit is being settled, and she will send me the documents for me to sign. So I ask some questions.

So my name has been removed from the lawsuit? No.

There must be something in there clearing me of responsibility? No.

There will be no fee to me, right? Well the attorney fee will be paid by the E&O Insurance Company, and the settlement will be $5,000.

I will not have to pay any of the $5,000 correct? She said you need to call your office to find out if you have to pay a deductible.

So I call my office and they tell me I will be responsible for a $5,000 deductible. How convenient. The settlement is for $5,000 and the amount I will be required to pay is $5,000 all for language in a listing that is not even mine. So I get a $5,000 penalty, but the listing agent gets off without any penalty, or even a violation.”

His whole post is wort a read and he also has a few updates.

[Thx Russ.]

UPDATE 3.12.13 Lawsuit Dismissed.

“A bit later there was a new post by Laurie Janik, stating that the lawsuit against me had been dismissed. As I had received over 1,500 emails, and the phone never stopped ringing all weekend, but especially yesterday, I checked my voice mails and found the message from her, sharing this great news.”

CRMLS chooses Real Estate Digital’s reDataVault

California Regional MLS (CRMLS) Selects Real Estate Digital’s reDataVault

“reDataVault addresses the real estate industry’s pressing need to simplify, standardize and streamline the MLS listing data licensing process by offering a document workflow system for all licensing-related documents and contracts (e.g., IDX and broker participation agreements). The system also offers automated dashboard alerts and unlimited cloud-based document storage and retrieval for 24/7 access.”

Nice win for everyone at RED. Congrats!

Zillow gets in to the agent website game.

If I were a agent website vendor I might have pooped a little in my pants after reading the press release Zillow issued this morning. The gist of it is this, a WordPress based full IDX website with a CRM for only $10.00 bucks a month. $10.00 bucks! That will cause some pricing pressure out there where typically these sites run from $29.95 to $49.95 per month.

Some thoughts:

First off the landing page is great. -They do a quick video using animation to drive home their value proposition. And surprise, it’s done very well.

There’s also a quick link to see example sites (Spoiler: They look better than most agent websites I’ve seen)

When you are ordering they have a Facebook Connect link. I don’t think I would ever use this but I know a lot of people will. Smart.

The whole process of ordering an agent website is great. Contrast this to something like Homes Connect, where I’m faced with a confusing product matrix and must speak to a sales person to order product. And I have no idea how much Homes Connect is going to charge me. Zillow process makes it transparent and simple.

Homes Connect Landing Page
Zillow Landing Page

Instant satisfaction. In less than 2 minutes I’m on my site customizing. 2 minutes!

Admin of Zillow Premier Agent Website

Plus the agent gets a domain registration and their integrated CRM included with the site. And you get Diverse Solutions IDX solution, which is top notch. Did I say $10 bucks a month?

Of course there will be challenges. I still don’t think Zillow have a full understanding of how difficult it will be to support agents (hot mess). And there is still a lot of animosity towards Zillow from the agent community.

I’m very interested to see how this plays in the market place, but my initial thoughts is that they have a hit on their hands.

Full Press Release Below:
Zillow Launches Premier Agent Websites

Customized, easy-to-build IDX-powered personal websites for real estate agents at $10 a month

SEATTLE, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information marketplace, today announced the launch of Premier Agent Websites, which allow real estate agents to quickly and affordably create a custom WordPress®-powered website for their personal brand and business. Premier Agent Websites include the option of an internet data exchange, or IDX, feed of local MLS listings and cost just $10 a month for agents not currently subscribed to Zillow’s Premier Agent advertising program. Subscribing Zillow® Premier Agents get a website for free.

“It’s incredibly important for real estate agents to have a Web presence, but building and maintaining a custom website with local IDX feeds is often time consuming and complex,” said Jay Thompson, director of industry outreach and social media at Zillow. “We created this product for the tens of thousands of agents in our Premier Agent program, as well as any agent who wants an easy and affordable website for only $10 a month.”

Premier Agent Websites are designed for agents who do not have their own website, wish to improve on their current website, or are looking for a more affordable custom website solution. Built on the WordPress platform, Premier Agent Websites can be created quickly without the need for Web expertise, and content can be updated easily at any time. Key features include:

Local, map-based IDX property search of multiple listing service-listed homes. An additional MLS fee may apply.
A personalized domain name of the agent’s choosing, at no additional cost.
A variety of templates, themes and colors.
The ability to add custom, local content such as a personal blog, video, real estate data and mortgage widgets, photo slideshows, and school information.
Integration with Zillow’s free customer relationship management platform to manage leads and customer contacts coming from the website.
Search engine optimization.
This announcement continues Zillow’s expansion of the Zillow Premier Agent program to include a wide variety of marketing and business services for real estate agents. The company’s fall 2011 acquisition of Diverse Solutions, a provider of MLS listings feeds for agent websites, allowed Zillow to accelerate this important initiative to help real estate agents better market their business online.

For more information, visit http://www.zillow.com/agent-websites. To learn about the Zillow Premier Agent program, visit http://www.zillow.com/advertising/agent-advertising.

About Zillow, Inc.
Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) is the leading real estate information marketplace, providing vital information about homes, real estate listings and mortgages through its mobile applications and websites, enabling homeowners, buyers, sellers and renters to connect with real estate and mortgage professionals best suited to meet their needs. More than 32 million unique users visited Zillow’s websites and mobile applications in April 2012. Zillow, Inc. operates Zillow.com®, Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, Zillow Mobile, Postlets® and Diverse Solutions™. The company is headquartered in Seattle.

The Zillow logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=10012

Zillow.com, Zillow and Postlets are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc. Diverse Solutions is a trademark of Zillow, Inc.

WordPress is a registered trademark of WordPress Foundation Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation.


SOURCE Zillow, Inc.

Interview with Joel Macintosh, CEO of WolfNet

I had a chance to sit down with Joel Macintosh, CEO of WolfNet, at ARMLSTechnopalooza conference last week (which was great BTW).

We had a great conversation covering such topics as the history of IDX, VOWs, owning vs. leasing your website and keeping a business going for 16 years.

Joel Fun Fact: He recently got married. So be sure to congratulate him next time you see him. : )


Listing Syndication 3.0

I got a chance to take a look at the new ListHub interface a few days ago. The product/service is what I would term a 3.0 release. “3.0” is software parlance for a “mature” product/service.

One thing struck out at me though, “MLS Preferred Publishers”.

For some reason, and it may just be me, but the ability for MLS providers to call out (by non inclusion) publishers they don’t condone seems problematic. It reminds me of the early days of IDX when new business models (internet only brokerages) were popping up and MLS providers (via broker members) would come up with rules and regs to keep them out. We all know what happen next. Three little letters: DOJ. As I’ve said, I could be wrong here, and I understand the spirt of this feature but it will be interesting to see how many MLS provider actively participate and denote publishers “preferred”.

Other than that concern I think this is a solid release that shows that the people at MOVE and ListHub have been listening to feedback from all participants, and that’s a good thing.

For a great overview of the new features see the video below:

Kristi Graning is leaving RE/MAX

Kristi Graning
When I first heard the news I was shocked.

After a stunning 21 year career Kristi Graning has announced she is leaving RE/MAX. I’ve written a lot about Kristi on this blog. She is what I call a “triple-threat” in the industry. Having worked with her back when RE/MAX launched their “network of broker IDX websites” (which put RE/MAX as the solid number 1 franchisor on the web) I witnessed first hand the commitment she gave RE/MAX and the huge accomplishments she made during her tenure there.

This move gives me some pause on the state of RE/MAX currently. This departure was clearly Kristi’s decision and makes me wonder what she knows that the rest of us don’t know.

She had posted on Facebook that she has been talking to several companies but decided to spend the summer with her boys.

I wish her nothing but success and know that we will be hearing from her soon enough on her next chapter.

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