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Direct Monetization of MLS Data – Public MLS Portals

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By Saul Klein

Public MLS portals are controversial…but, if done right, they can make sense. The recent conversations of the National Association of REALTORS® MLS Committee regarding MLS levels of service and the Realty Alliance Fair Display Guidelines have brought the subject of MLS and association public portals “front and center.”

Is it possible to build a public portal that benefits all major stakeholders? One that consumers love, with robust and relevant data, true search and less advertising, that is mobile parcel-based with cool technology and acceptable privacy terms?

A number of major entities, including Point2, think so, and are creating public portal products for associations and MLSs. The Point2 Public Portal product is a world-class website that complies with the Fair Display Guidelines and does not require dues dollars for support, but instead shares advertising revenue with the MLSs and associations.

Competition in the MLS public-facing website space includes big name players.

Rapattoni
Not a true public-facing portal until recently, in the past, Rapattoni integrated Find a Home and Find a REALTOR® into its member site. New Orleans Metro looks like their first true public-facing portal.

As noted in Vendor Alley, Rapattoni is entering the public-facing website game with its Rapattoni Integrated Website Service (IWS). “As with their other product, the new IWS works with their existing applications, which seems to be an advantage over non-MLS vendor solutions. More and more MLS vendors are adding this type of solution to their offerings. In some cases, like Solid Earth, it is becoming a “tent pole” type of product.

Real Estate Digital (RED) – LPS
Operated by former LPS executives, MLS consultants, RED is entering the public-facing website arena.

From Red: Create your own public website that displays and promotes listings and open houses, driving traffic and leads to your member sites and revenue to your organization. The MLS consumer portal is a customizable, public-facing website, where consumers can search for open houses and active listings, find their agent or research local school and neighborhood information. The leads and inquiries go directly to the agent and/or broker of record.

CoreLogic
Mission/Sales Proposition: A public, multiple-listing website that not only delivers added value to brokers and agents, it provides consumers with something they cannot get from many other sites: truly localized listings and information.

According to CoreLogic, an effective public, multiple-listing website can deliver real value to your brokers and agents by promoting REALTORS® to the public and providing a friendly, consumer-centric portal with the best property information on the Internet.

Solid Earth
Mission. To partner with clients to make technology accessible, useful and valuable to real estate professionals.

Clients: They service 24 MLSs

Other Products/Services: APIs Spring API: Pay-for-use business model. Spring will allow client organizations a way out of the aging $/user model and into a more stable, sustainable pay-for-use approach. Spring can grow alongside a legacy product, allowing an organization wishing to avoid mass upheaval among membership to offer Spring to early adopters. Complete ad network where ad revenue will be supplemental to the Spring business model and allow for meaningful revenue-share opportunities back to the client organization.

All of these players have a common goal, namely, helping the MLS in the area of competing with the large national portals for consumer traffic and agent lead generation.

Dream? Reality? Or something in between?

Saul Klein is industry principal for Point2.

For more information, visit www.point2.com.

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