Over a year ago, at Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop in 2016, Gregg facilitated a discussion with Cary Sylvester (VP, Industry Development – Keller Williams) to answer the questions about Upstream that had gone unanswered to date. While the Upstream project is in progress with RPR working on beta tests in several markets, in 2017 Clareity thought it would be good for Workshop attendees to see how a few other solutions have already put brokers in control of listing input and other content. Most of these solutions are already providing efficiency for listing entry, and allow for entry of additional fields that a broker may want beyond what the MLS requires. These systems also allow the flow of content after input to be broker-managed, sending to the MLS, broker systems, local advertisers, and the national listing portals.
CoreLogic, one of the leading MLS provider with over 750,000 end-users in 118 MLS markets, is fielding “Trestle”. According to a recent press release, “Close to 100 multiple listing organizations representing approximately 500,000 subscribers have already signed up for Trestle.” This solution allows brokers to get a unified feed from multiple MLSs to feed their internal and external needs. It also provides them with a tool for opting out of MLS syndication and to set up their own data feeds for their listings. It also allows them to add CoreLogic property information and proprietary market analytics to that data feed, allowing them to field products that could have a competitive edge. Unique among the solutions described in this article, MLSs and brokers can also use the Trestle tool to create a marketplace for data, setting costs, contracting, and collecting for different types of feeds. CoreLogic hasn’t launched listing maintenance outside of their MLS system markets yet in the Trestle product, but they expect to begin doing so in Q4 2017.
Black Knight Financial Services
Black Knight Financial Services is another leading MLS vendor with 213 MLS accounts with 292,435 end-users. They have been using existing standards – for a few years now – to help put brokers in control. 25 of their accounts have enabled “RETS Update” which allow other vendors serving brokers and agents to use the RESO standard to send listings into the MLS system, and they have nine of these vendors currently doing so on behalf of subscribers. More recently, they launched a new product “Paragon 4 Brokers” which allows brokers to add additional fields and business rules to their Paragon MLS system – fields that only they and their agents can see on reports and export from the MLS system.
That still leaves too many MLSs where the broker has to manage data, but Black Knight is providing a new function, “Association Autonomy”, which should make it easier for multiple organizations to collaborate on larger regional and mega-regional MLSs. The Association Autonomy function allows for many organizations to have one common database but with configurable data fields, business rules, and branding for each organization.
Also, when it comes to data aggregation, Black Knight, has launched “Property Information Central” (PIC), a repository where data has been standardized across many MLSs. The PIC received Gold RESO Data Dictionary Certification in 2017 and WebAPI Certifications started in 2016. PIC should make it easier for brokers to obtain data across MLS markets more easily – assuming they are in markets where Black Knight is the MLS vendor or in a market where Black Knight has obtained a feed to use in PIC from another MLS vendor.
Instanet Solutions provides document and transaction management with eSignatures to over 500,000 end-users – including growth of 120,000 end-users in 2016. Instanet asks the question, “Listing data management starts in the listing agreement form – why not begin the flow of data from there, instead of re-entering into another system?” And, that’s exactly what they’ve done for their customers. Instanet’s input system leverages existing tax and MLS data to make entry as easy as possible, it fits into the existing workflow to reduce redundant data entry, and business rules and logic are applied to input forms preventing bad data being uploaded to MLS and broker systems. This solution is already available to over 225,000 users with another 95,000+ in their existing project pipeline. Instanet Solutions can also implement broker data fields and workflows such as brokerage staff review prior to listing submission.
Zillow Group (NASDAQ: Z) acquired Bridge Interactive in 2016, giving them the capability to provide listing input across MLS boundaries, where MLSs cooperate. This data can then be distributed using RETS, the RESO Web API, and Zillow’s Retsly API.
Input includes standard MLS listing data plus custom fields and rules per each brokerage.
Like CoreLogic, Zillow plans to augment data being distributed with additional content. In Zillow’s case this includes an automated valuation model, public records, a unique property identifier, and enhanced geocodes.
Zillow’s Bridge Interactive technology is well proven and installed and working in dozens of major markets.
Isn’t it amazing how complex we’ve made listing input? How will all of these solutions work together? How will all of the business rules be managed across all of these platforms? What additional complexity does this create for copyright and protection of compilations? Remember how simple the data flow goal looked in the presentations we’ve been shown? Well, it looks like we’re entering a new phase for real estate information, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be so simple or easy, and it seems unlikely that there will be a single “winner” for content input and management.
NAR funded the project for RPR to solve a problem for Upstream that no one else was solving at the time, but now it appears the market has functioned as one might expect and spawned a competitive marketplace of technology solutions for brokers to leverage. This should lead to interesting discussions at the NAR midyear meetings in May.
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