Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Nestfully

My thanks again to Nestfully for sponsoring Vendor Alley this month.

Nestfully is available to over 300,000 agents across the nation that want to deliver a rich collaboration experience to their clients. The goal of Nestfully is not to out-match portals on the number of site visitors but to give agents a way to engage their clients with an ad-free alternative that matches the design and UX experience their clients have come to expect.

To find out more please visit: Nestfully – MLS Partners

Cloud Streams’ listing alerts beat all major portals

2832655241372408853I wanted to publish a little more background on Andrea V. Brambila’s article this morning on Inman News.

“How quick and reliable are portal listing alerts?”

W&R Studios did an experiment in the later part of 2015. They registered on all major listing portals, set up a saved search, and turned on their listing alerts. They started with two different cities – one covered by CRMLS in Southern California (Huntington Beach), and another city in Washington state (Auburn), covered by NWMLS. They choose these markets because they were on the same MLS system (Matrix) and wanted to test how these alerts would be affected by MLS providers that have direct data agreements with major listing portals.

In the case of Redfin and Estately they are both brokers as well as portals, so both have the advantage of getting a direct feed from the MLS. They fared well in the test, but still not enough to beat Cloud Streams.

In CRMLS listing alerts sent out via Cloud Streams came in (on average) 1 hour and 4min faster than Redfin listing alerts. Over 5 hour and 20 minutes (on average) than Zillow.

Check out the other results below:

Fastest alerts in the west

Does having a direct data agreement with the MLS make a difference? You bet. Check out below:

alert speed vs direct agreements

Also, what about “auto-prospecting” systems on the MLS? Wouldn’t these always be the fastest? Nope. Since most MLS systems send out alerts on a “Daily” basis and Cloud Streams sends alerts out in “real-time”, Cloud Streams wins again.

Plus when you add that Cloud Streams listings alerts can be sent out via text, instead of a buyer sorting through multiple emails, this increases the speed of when a buyer sees the listing.

Why does this matter? Two big reasons.

1. Being the fist to know when new listings (or updates) hit the market is a huge advantage to buyers. Especially in markets with low inventory or desirable neighborhoods.

2. This helps agents leverage their best asset, access to real-time MLS data, and gives their buyers a clear reason to use an agent, faster (the fastest) access to market data.

Want to help your MLS members compete with major listing portals?

We already have 40 MLS providers up and running with Cloud Streams. Over 200,000 agents who receive Cloud Streams as a free member benefit. Katie and I will be at Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop this week to answer any questions. See you in Scottsdale!

ListTrac’s new breakthrough might be broken

Billy Joel's Glass Houses
Billy Joel’s Glass Houses
Today ListTrac, a relatively new vendor, announced a “breakthrough”, which allows real estate professionals to “monetize listings”.

I’m not totally familiar with ListTrac’s revenue model ( I don’t think they have one currently) but this whole premise struck me as odd. Or maybe I just woke up in a weird mood today.

ListTrac Breakthrough Allows Real Estate Professionals to Monetize Listings

This quote from ListTrac’s CEO, Trent Gardner got me started:

“Just as musicians are compensated each time their song is played on the Internet, ListTrac wants real estate professionals to be rewarded every time their listing is viewed on the Internet,”

Wait, what? My local Realtor is now Billy Joel?

“For years, companies have taken listing content and assembled multi-billion dollar business models by monetizing the ‘eye-balls’ looking at this valuable content,” Gardner explains. “However, these business models don’t allow brokers to participate — so they have been sidelined watching others make millions of dollars in IPOs off of their content. ListTrac helps change that paradigm with a framework allowing real estate professionals to monitor and monetize their listing content.”

Don’t brokers receive exposure for these listings which then translate in to sales?

“Through its patented-approved process, ListTrac, working with MLS firms, help brokers monetize their listing content through the new standard of online advertising known as ‘programmatic advertising.’ Programmatic advertising allows brands to reach consumers at the right time with the right product and the right message — better connecting the advertiser and the consumer.”

Here’s a question. And again, it might sound a bit too weird . Do the portals get to participate in “programmatic advertising” revenue ListTrac is going to help generate for real estate professionals? Shouldn’t they? Why or why not?

I mean if nobody sees the listings (hears the song?), how is ListTrac going to generate revenue? I mean if I never hear Piano Man on the internet how do I know when to buy a piano??!!

Think about it. ListTrac’s whole business model depends on listing portals to install their tracking software on their sites. Without this software ListTrac can’t operate. I can’t imagine Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com or Homes.com is too thrilled to install any third party software on their own servers. I’m sure all of these site could provide tracking and metrics to any MLS without the need for ListTrac.

If I were ListTrac I would be playing very nice with all these guys.

But…

“Gardner notes that ListTrac went through an arduous process meeting with MLS tech committees, syndication task forces and MLS boards — all populated with agents and brokers — to ensure that no personal information would be shared and that no MLS listing content would be licensed or sold

Meeting with their customers is an “arduous process”? I wrote about this before but this whole entitlement vibe with newer vendors in this space is ridiculous.

I’m sure ListTrac has some smart people, so I must be missing something about this “breakthrough”. Or just as Billy Joel sang, “You might be right, I may be crazy”

UPDATE: Andrea Brambila, Inman News new “Deputy Editor” (congrats Andrea!) has a whole other take on ListTrac’s revenue model. Check out: ListTrac’s plan to sell agent and consumer behavior data

But last month, a Boston-based Internet data exchange (IDX) website provider, www.realestate Inc., contacted Inman, saying www.realestate Inc. had refused to implement ListTrac’s monitoring code in its websites for agents belonging to ListTrac customer Cape Cod and Islands MLS.

“Our business code of conduct prevents us from installing any third-party software we feel would harm you or others,” wrote the company’s founder, Mark Holt, in an email to its CCIMLS customers.

“We will not install monitoring software at the direction of any third-party without consent. We consider ListTrac’s ‘monitoring code’ dangerous at this time, therefore we will not install it.” ListTrac’s monitoring code is an “unknown back-door Trojan” that’s installed without agents’ express permission on their websites at the behest of their MLSs, Holt told Inman.

Ouch.

Alon Chaver joins BPP as “outside director”

Departing Trulia Executive Joins Broker Public Portal Board of Managers

“Arroyo Grande, CA – June 30th, 2015 – In the wake of the Broker Public Portal’s first board meeting comes the announcement that Alon Chaver, former Vice President of Industry Services at Trulia, has agreed to join the company’s Board of Managers. The governance of the LLC allows the Board to nominate two outside directors. Mr. Chaver is the first of those two.”

Nice get for BPP. Alon is solid and well respected. Interesting that he didn’t have a non-compete.

“Whistleblower” stirs things up between Move, NAR and Zillow.

Whistleblower alleges Zillow is stealing listing data from agent websites

Andrea Brambila from Inman News:

“In court filings today, Move said it received the letter yesterday, April 9. The company, along with fellow plaintiff the National Association of Realtors, is calling for the court to grant third-party discovery in the case, saying “The defendants simply cannot be trusted to be the sole source of evidence in this case regarding their conduct.”

Move declined to comment on which third parties would be involved.

“The plaintiffs have complained for months that the defendants are systematically hiding evidence in secret non-Zillow email accounts and file-sharing services,” attorneys for Move and NAR said in the court filing.

“The defendants have denied the claims, deriding them as ‘silly’ conspiracy theories and claim they have produced everything. The whistleblower’s letter appears to confirm, however, the plaintiffs’ worst fears.”

This is getting very ugly. The letter itself is pretty detailed. It doesn’t just focus on Errol and Curt but Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, and Greg Schwartz, Zillow’s Chief Revenue Officer, and a bunch of other Zillow employees.

I think the letter was written by someone who had an executive position in the company (Zillow). I’m betting it’s a former employee, with an axe to grind, and I bet Zillow knows exactly who he is.

But its hard to believe any of the stuff the letter suggests. Its either blown out of proportion, not relevant, or taken out of context. Is having a rolodex a crime? Zillow has been kicking realtor.com’s ass without any sort of help, why risk it?

Bob Bemis – Zillow, MLS and what the future holds

The Evolving MLS – Part I – From Deconstruction to Resurrection

Bob Bemis, on his blog Procuring Cause, about a call he received while still working at Zillow:

“Into this contentious environment, one MLS CEO made an unusual phone call in early spring of 2013. He said his MLS was about to begin the dreaded vendor selection process and he wondered if Zillow would be interested in being considered as the system provider for their MLS. He was working from the common perception that “Zillow is just one field away from being a national MLS.” Would Zillow like to add that field?

“No!” The answer was swift and resolute. Zillow had no interest in getting into the MLS business or even the technology business on behalf of an MLS. They held to their mantra they were a media company, not a broker, not an MLS, not a title company, nothing but an advertising vehicle for brokers and agents (and others) to reach a potential audience through pay per impression display ads.

That should have been the end of it. But ten days later I received a second call from another association executive asking the same question. I had no reason to believe these two people had talked to each other or compared notes. And I gave the same emphatic negative reply when asked the second time.”

MLS Executives calling for Zillow to become an MLS vendor?! Holy shit!

And this….

“Agents and brokers expressed more frustration with the lack of innovation in MLS technology and pointed to the upstart portals as examples of what an MLS should look like. MLSs were seemingly talking to the wall if they asked for major improvements in their MLS system from their vendor. The MLSs had dug their own deep hole by playing vendors off against each other during contract renewal time, thus demanding and receiving the lowest possible price for service, sometimes near the break-even point for vendors. Without profits, vendors were at a loss how to finance innovation, research, and new development, while the MLSs who had selected them felt the backlash from their subscribers who demanded more.”

The whole post is worth a read. It will be very interesting to see where this goes….

Z2K

Well I just got back from AEI 2015, held in Vancouver B.C. Beautiful city and those Canadians are a pleasant bunch. The meetings are still going on and I had a great time catching up with everyone. And of course the main topic on everyone’s mind was the Zillow-Trulia-ListHub listings kerfuffle. Lots of activity and discussion happening in this area especially since the court bitch-slapped Trulia. In a ruling that Move commented they were “extremely pleased and delighted with the court’s ruling” and had agreed to the new cutoff date.” I’ll say.

April 7th is the new date for both Trulia and Zillow. I was kibitzing with a few other vendors who commented that it kind of felt like the hysteria back in 2000, dubbed “Y2K”. Of course in this scenario its more like “Z2K“. : )

But Zillow isn’t satisfied with just the listing data. They appear to want to win the hearts and minds of MLS providers. And that appears to be the aim of its next “invite only” event being held in Las Vegas. Zillow is footing the bill for travel and airfare of some of the most influential MLS executives in the industry. “Vegas Baby!”

Speaking of MLS providers, Zillow Group just announced a list of 18 new MLS providers that have signed direct feed agreements. And there are a few biggies.

“New partners include:

Alaska MLS – Anchorage, Alaska
California Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. – Los Angeles, Calif.
Golden Isles Association of REALTORS® – Brunswick, Ga.
Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS – Greater Lansing, Mich.
Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS – Las Vegas, Nev.
Gulf Coast MLS – Mobile, Ala.
MIBOR Service Corporation – Indianapolis, Ind.
Middle Georgia MLS – Macon, Ga.
North Central Mississippi Realtors – Oxford, Miss.
North Carolina Mountains MLS – Fletcher, NC
Northern New England Real Estate Network– Concord, NH
Northwest Mississippi Association of REALTORS – Nesbit, Miss.
Russellville BOR – Russellville, Ark.
Santa Fe Association of REALTORS Inc. – Santa Fe, NM
South Central Board of REALTORS – Rolla, Mo.
Tillamook County MLS – Tillamook, Ore.
Western Arizona Realtors Data Exchange – Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
West Central Association of Realtors MN – Willmar, Minn.”

This is a much better list that the previously announced on March 4th, which was kind of a joke.

Who else is tired of all this drama?? The feeling I get from other vendors is they can’t wait till April 8th (but I have the feeling we are only getting started). All this Zillow Group stuff is clogging up THEIR deal pipeline. Amen to that.

Nationstar acquires Real Estate Digital (RED) for 18 million in cash.

NATIONSTAR REPORTS FIRST QUARTER 2014 FINANCIAL RESULTS & STRATEGIC ACQUISITION

“Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. (NYSE: NSM) (“Nationstar”), a leading residential mortgage services company, today announced that its fee-based real estate services business, Solutionstar entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Real Estate Digital and its affiliate for USD 18m in cash in May.”

This is the HUGE news. Back in 2011 Jay Gaskill structured a management buy out of the franchise/broker and agent division of LPS. A mere 3 years later they flip for 18 million.

For those who don’t know, RED basically powers online real estate. They have one of the largest pools of IDX feeds in the industry, powering many large brokerages, including HomeServices brokerages along with Berkshire Hathaway and also Real Living. They act as a data provider for many other 3rd party software companies. And of course they are the data aggregator for NAR’s Realtor Property Resource (RPR). This brings about many questions.

My congrats go out to the entire team at RED.

Over 1,000 brokers send their listings to Zillow directly.

Zillow ‘Pro for Brokers’ participation takes off
Portal receiving direct listing feeds from more than 1,000 brokers

Paul Hagey for Inman News

Zillow is now receiving listings directly from more than 1,000 brokers under its 2-year-old Zillow Pro for Brokers program.

The program, which Zillow launched in June 2012, has grown rapidly in recent months. Last fall Zillow announced that approximately 200 brokers were enrolled.

Impressive.

“Both Zillow and Trulia have been making a push to get direct feeds from brokers and multiple listing services to improve the accuracy, timeliness and comprehensiveness of their listing databases. Their chief rival, realtor.com, gets listings directly from over 800 MLSs across the U.S.”

I’m starting to get a better idea of what Curt meant by the “save ListHub” plan.

Audie Chamberlain leaving MOVE

AudieThe talent drain continues at MOVE. Audie Chamberlain, Director of Social Media Marketing for Realtor.com, is leaving and joining Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions. This just after Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley had recently left for Zillow. Although from what I know his departure is unrelated.

Audie has been at MOVE for close to 6 years and had been named twice to the Inman‘s list of most the “100 most influential people in real estate”. Before his stint at MOVE Audie was Digital Business Coordinator at Universal Music Group and he recently joined the board of directors for the L.A. Family Housing.

Audie has always been a great representative for realtor.com. I’ve always appreciated his industry perspective and of course his sense of humor. He’s, in the parlance of our late night banter, “legit”. It’s truly a shame to see him go, but I am glad he is staying in the industry. We’ve shared a lot of good times at conferences, I’m going to miss that.

His new gig is with Partners Trust. They have been making a lot of waves in the real estate industry here in SoCal. Partners Trust has also been named one of “Best Places To Work In Los Angeles”. So good for him.

Please join me in wishing him well on his new gig!

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