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Data Wars – An Industry-Wide Update on Data Licensing News

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By Mike Audet

RISMEDIA, December 30, 2010—While it’s doubtful that the real estate industry will begin an intergalactic battle for data complete with clone armies and light sabers, the battle for control over the industry’s data is starting to heat up. It’s been a long time since the National Association of REALTORS® rolled out their REALTOR® Property Resource (RPR) program giving MLSs a chance to leverage their data. With reservations about licensing data long since left behind, there have been many new developments. RPR has opened the door for competition, and other organizations have launched viable programs with four distinct industry leaders have emerging as industry frontrunners.

REALTOR® Property Resource (RPR)
Over the last year or so we have seen and heard a lot from RPR as they have moved aggressively to sell their vision of data use and sign up MLSs, Associations and individual real estate companies across the nation. The product was introduced at the NAR conference with great fanfare, and RPR has made progress, including the clarification of terms and conditions. At present, according to information provided by RPR, they have the following commitments:

-41 launched MLS markets representing 179,000 members
-141 total projected MLS markets Representing 270,000+ REALTORS®

If you look through their list of MLS partners, whom they publish at http://blog.narrpr.com/, you will notice that one of the most recent improvements by RPR is the addition of large MLSs across the nation. Some of these large MLSs include:

-SoCal MLS
-ARMLS
-MLS PIN
-MetroList
-MLS Listings, Inc
-Heartland MLS
-Maine Statewide
-RI Statewide

In October, RPR launched a new feature of their program called the Realtor Valuation Model. This feature aims to create the gold standard automated valuation product in order to consolidate underwriter, servicer, and government collateral analysis into a product owned, powered, and provided by REALTORS®. RPR’s valuation model is ranked at the top of a list of 20 automated valuation models (AVMs). Recently, RPR has also found success with their Broker Data Tools, and began loading national foreclosure data.

CoreLogic’s InfoNet
CoreLogic came into the data game publically after the RPR announcement last year, but in reality they had been working with MLSs for years and had access to MLS data for the specific purpose of improving the accuracy of their AVMs. While they did not share revenue through these agreements, they provided free technology, in the form of the Realist Value Map product. When they did enter the “new game” to acquire MLS data, they put forth a plan that included significant revenue sharing for the MLSs.

CoreLogic points out three things that have to be present to make this MLS data sharing successful. You need products to use the data, customers who want the data, and a critical mass of data to put in the products. This is a bit of a catch-22 because initially you must convince MLSs to share data when there is no revenue to share yet.

CoreLogic believes they need about 1/3 of the active listings in the market place to reach critical mass, which is the point where they will really start generating revenue for themselves and their partners. They say the good news is they have customers ready to go and they have the products. If you look at CoreLogic’s historical relationships with MLSs, you could argue that they already have a critical mass of data relationships. The 50+ MLSs they do business with today represent data numbers that would put them over the threshold they believe is critical and they are currently in discussions with these MLSs to make that happen.

Today, CoreLogic has more than 15 MLSs officially signed up for their Partner InfoNet project, including:

-15+ MLS agreements
-120,000 total agents
-430,000 active listings
-3 of top 10 MSAs
-Over half exclusive
-Claim another 300K agents in process

With this level of growth, CoreLogic is beginning to approach the “critical mass” level, meaning that they will likely start generating a large amount of revenue for themselves and their partners.

MOVE’s FIND Product
Move’s FIND product is a natural language search product for MLSs that provides nationwide school information including boundaries, demographics and psychographics, and an overlay of nationwide data such as flight paths and airport noise, hurricane path and tornado records, seismic activity and flood plan data. The FIND product is different from RPR and the CoreLogic offering in many ways. There is no charge for the FIND product. It is offered to any MLS that is willing to let MOVE use their MLS data, including all property types and statuses, on both FIND and Realtor.com. This is a straight data for product relationship.

MOVE has the following participants:

-17 MLSs signed a FIND agreement
-238,000 subscribers total
-68,000 have given OK for sold data on Realtor.com
-170,000 have agreements pending
-Approximately 700,000 listings

It is important to note that the FIND agreement is “non-exclusive” and does not preclude MLSs from working with any of the other data opportunities available. This is different from other data licensing products.

In a new development, MOVE and NAR have renewed and expanded the scope of MOVE’s operating agreement for Realtor.com. The announcement indicates that NAR understands that if they want Realtor.com to remain competitive against third party listing websites, they need to have the flexibility to compete in areas of listing syndication and property display. The details of the agreement have not been made public, but we expected that NAR would allow MOVE to display more types of data on listings to enhance the depth of information they can provide to consumers and generate more leads for REALTORS®. They have done this by agreeing to give sold data information to Realtor.com.

IMAPP
IMAPP, Inc. is a Tampa, Florida based company that supplies online geographic information systems. They integrate a variety of real property information including property lines, tax roll data, area demographics, aerials, mortgage and deed recordings and foreclosure information with a specific focus on the real estate industry.

IMAPP announced at the time we wrote our first paper that they would soon be offering two new products that provide revenue potential for MLSs. These products take a different approach from the products already mentioned. Rather than looking to use MLS data as a way to monetize a new product offered outside of the real estate industry, IMAPP is proposing a different way for MLSs to derive value from their tax/public records provider. Today, IMAPP is in their ‘soft launch’ phase for these products in that they have already established some agreements, but the products are not yet live. One of these new products involves advertising on tax systems and the other is a new Hybrid IDX product. MLSs who form agreements with IMAPP stand to receive 30% of gross revenues of their joint ventures.

Currently, IMAPP has made the following progress with their products:

-114,000 agents – 95% customer coverage
-Banner ads on top of every page of tax system
-Geo-targeted, keyword, search criteria search, targeted campaigns
-Focused on local advertisers – inspectors, builders, mortgage companies
-Estimated $10,000-$30,000 per month

With these two unique products, IMAPP stands to attract members with a completely different strategy than the other top data licensing programs. By appealing to potential members’ collaborative tendencies and monetizing the value of membership, IMAPP is making great strides in becoming an attractive program to participate in as a real estate industry member.

For more information, visit www.wavgroup.com.

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