Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Chris Bennett, Amy Gorce, and Lucie Fortier are leaving CoreLogic

Holy Shit!

Word is these are individual decisions and not related to any company-wide initiative.

Developing…

Scoop: Rapattoni to offer separate MLS front end solution

Ralph, Niki and Brian
Ralph, Niki and Brian
To say it’s been a tough year for Rapattoni is a massive understatement. Andy’s ongoing back issues and his unexpected death in April of this year have put a dark cloud of rumors over the company and its future.
 
But on a recent visit I made to Rapattoni’s company headquarters I found a lot of people who never thought of giving up and are ready to fight. Which makes sense. The company was founded in 1970, 45 years ago, and you don’t last that long without fighting the whole way.
 
At the center of that fight is Niki Rapattoni. Andy’s co-founder, wife, love of his life. And at an age where she should be enjoying the good life she has decided to push forward and take the company in a new direction for the future.
 
They are now rolling out Rapattoni Magic-Cloud AMS, a new cloud-based solution for their association management software (AMS) which frees the software from on-site hardware, as well as hosting of the current version of Rapattoni Magic AMS for customers that want to eliminate their in-house hardware. This, along with their Integrated Website Service, Single Sign-On (SSO), and Edge MLS mobile interface for iOS and Android, as well as their brand new corporate website, shows the company has been busy. Niki also gave me a tour of their newly renovated offices.  Ralph Hoover, Rapattoni’s EVP, mentioned that these product decisions were made under Niki’s direction, after Andy’s passing.
 
But that’s not what caught my attention.
 
One thing that was also clear to me is that everyone at Rapattoni was in tune with what was happening in the industry. And Upstream was at the top of that discussion. Niki said that the company had a lot of discussions about Project Upstream and what it meant to MLS vendors like Rapattoni. And she said that after a lot of thought they had decided strategically they needed to make a change. That change was to separate the front end of the Rapattoni MLS from the back-end database. This, she said, would give the company flexibility to compete in the future as the landscape of the MLS world changed.
 
Whoa! This was huge news to me. I know that many MLS providers had been looking for some leadership from MLS vendors regarding this, but none of them that I know of have made the declaration publicly.  
 
This is a huge undertaking. I was really impressed by Brian Tepfer, Rapattoni’s CTO, as he laid out the plan. Of course this will not happen overnight, he was quick to say, but the decision has been made, the work has started, and Rapattoni wants to lead the industry in this new direction.
 
On my drive back home to Huntington Beach I got to thinking. My stepmother lost my father a few years back, my mother-in-law lost her husband less than two years ago. Both strong women. But as strong as they are I can’t imagine how either of them could go on after such a great loss, to lead a company of over a 100 people and to make sure their families are taken care of. No break. Unimaginable. And yet Niki and her team are doing it. 
 
So if anybody is asking what’s happening at Rapattoni, I would just repeat what Niki said to me as I left, “We’re still here Greg.  And the sky’s the limit.”

SkySlope is being sued by DocuSign

Looks like SkySlope is being sued by DocuSign for trademark infringement.

I’m no lawyer but it looks like it has to do with SkySlope’s use of the “no paper” logo, which is a registered trademark of DocuSign and has been featured in SkySlope advertising.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.28.01 PM

Also DocuSign isn’t thrilled with SkySlope’s logo for DigiSign

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.26.55 PM

I’ve scanned the court docs and if DocuSign prevails it could be pretty serious problem for SkySlope. Let’s hope they come to some sort of agreement.

Jason Calacanis has a great idea for real estate

And he’ll fund it….

https://twitter.com/jason/status/504695581206257664

I like this idea a lot. Kind of like a “secret shopper program”. But instead of having individuals do the work why not just power buyers/homeshoppers that are already looking to do so?

Broker Strangelove: The scoop on the Realty Alliance’s (crazy) plan to rock the real estate industry

strangeloveEver since Craig Cheatham put the MLS industry on double super secret probation there has been much speculation about what The Realty Alliance’s grand plan is and how they will go about implementing it.

Well, I’ve spoken to over a dozen individuals and believe I have connected all the dots at this point.

I must qualify this by saying these are still rumors – the “word on the street”, so to speak, but I’m confident I have all the major details worked out.

What the plan?

Basically the plan is to create a database upstream of the MLS providers. This will be a national broker database, not any sort of regional, “lets try it and see if it works” sort of thing.

Brokers will put their listings in this database first, then decide where those listings go, who to share them with, an under what terms. So if this thing ever gets traction (it won’t in my opinion) brokers could decide to send listings (only some?) to the MLS, or not. They could syndicate, or not. They could share with other brokers, IDX-style, or not. And they would not be subject to any rules regarding monetization of the data.

The key here is brokers want to gain leverage over their MLS providers by creating a national upstream database.


How do they make money?

The idea is to charge brokers up to $2.00 per listing to upload listings to the database. That’s not a joke. $2.00 per listing. Memories of Homestore come to mind. Having done RFPs on many of the large franchisor websites I have a fair understanding of the cost involved in creating (and maintaining) a listing database. So I just wonder if anyone has really done the math of this sort of effort. Nevermind the complexity of getting brokers to implement another listing upload program.

Oy Vey!

What I’m also hearing is that they also hope to repackage this data and sell it to Wall Street. One spin on this is that they may highlight the “Berkshire Hathaway” name when doing this. Who loves Warren Buffet more than Wall Street? Their partner in this effort would be Collateral Analytics. Collateral Analytics has been requesting MLS data on behalf of their broker clients for the last year or so but is running in to problems with some MLS providers as to the nature of how they are using. it. I guess they think by having this data outside the MLS, and stamping Warren Buffet’s name on it, it will be all good. If RPR, CoreLogic and, dare I say, REBIG couldn’t make this happen I very skeptical that these guys could make a dent.

Who wrote the plan?

My sources say the business plan was put together by The WAV Group, most notably Victor Lund. I don’t believe the selling of data to Wall Street was part of the plan put together by WAV Group. But the upstream national broker database and charging brokers up to $2.00 per listing to upload was proposed in the plan put forward by WAV Group. As I said, the plan written by WAV Group hopes to increase brokers’ “leverage” with MLS providers. Phase One would be to create this upstream national broker database. I believe this is the “big initiative” The Realty Alliance voted to proceed with last month.

I believe WAV Group is also responsible for drafting the RFP for this database and facilitating vendor selection. What is puzzling to me is why The WAV group, which has been hawking their strategic MLS planning services pretty hard lately, would venture in to this territory. Gotta eat, I guess.

Who is going to build it?

I haven’t seen a definitive list of vendors, and I doubt any of them would confirm or deny involvement, but I can make an educated guess about two of them.

In all cases I don’t see any clear win for vendors (inside the industry) who choose to cooperate. Seems like kryptonite to me.

1. CoreLogic, always a WAV Group favorite, seems an obvious player. But as one of the biggest providers of MLS software to the industry already committed to share any “Wall Street Revenue” with MLS providers I don’t see the logic here.

2. RED- Real Estate Digital. RED aggregates data for RPR (via LPS), builds broker platforms, and builds and sells public-facing MLS websites (something TRA abhors). Since the broker database is upstream from the MLS they can’t really leverage their MLS data aggregation know-how.

Plus, take a step back. A broker database business model that relies on brokers paying $1 to $2 per listing to operate? Really? I may not be the smartest guy in the room but that idea seems batshit crazy me. What vendor would want to be involved in that quagmire?

And I’m also hearing that not all members of the Realty Alliance are confident in the plan.. And not just a few, but a lot of them. Which is why this stuff is starting to get out.

In Summary

This is a bad deal for brokers and MLS providers. Actually I think it’s worse for brokers because of the time suck and money wasted. The MLS providers will just sit on the sidelines laughing their asses off.

I still think cooler heads will prevail. The members of The Realty Alliance are smart business people. Some might be more ready for change than others. But they have to realize you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You have to find new ways to win.

As I’ve said in my first post on this subject…

“Stop listening to the consultants you’ve hired. Stop drafting new business plans. Go sell a ton of real estate. You have the MLS community attention. Take advantage of it.
Don’t lose this opportunity.”

ARMLS names new CEO

Matt Consalvo
Congratulations to Matt Consalvo on his new position as CEO of ARMLS! Matt was previously serving as the interim CEO after Bob Bemis left the CEO spot to join Zillow.

Seain Conover is leaving CoreLogic

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anytime someone leaves the real estate industry an angel gets his wings. Well the bells are ringing.

Looks like Seain after selling the company he and Brian de Schepper co-founded , Tarasoft, has decided to step down. You may recall CoreLogic acquired the company back in December of 2011.

I hear Seain will make one final trip up and down the escalators at the Marriott at Midyear Conference later this month, and then fade in to the Canadian wilderness from which he came….

Congrats Seain, and godspeed.

Canada selects Point2 as exclusive listing syndicator.

Oh Canada!

My sources tell me that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has selected Point2 as the exclusive listing syndicator for all of Canada’s MLS listings. Word is Point2 beat out other potential companies, including ListHub.

Point2, which is headquartered in the Saskatchewan province of Canada, should announce something soon. While Zillow and Trulia do not operate in Canada at this time there are other sites such as Oodle and Zoocasa that do.

I think that International Real Estate is going to be a big topic in the upcoming years and Point2 is moving in the direction of providing multinational listing syndication services, which could differentiate themselves going forward.

Early congrats to Saul, Walt and their team for the win.

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