The long, historical debate
The real estate industry has a long history of tumult over listing syndication, their accuracy, misuse of data, and whether real estate search site practices are operating within the guidelines or even in the best interest of consumers or real estate professionals.
The debate is heated and frustrating for the involved parties, just look at the 2009 AG article, “Did Google Scrape My Website? You Be The Judge. Rules Threaten Realtors & IDX Providers” which has hundreds of comments from real estate professionals across the nation adding their thoughts to the industry changing topic.
Syndication Bill of Rights
In response to the overall syndication issue, Clariety Consulting set forth “The New Real Estate Syndication Bill of Rights” which outlines a voluntary or market driven track for adoption of the following ten “rights:”
- The publisher will display the listing firm contact information, including phone number, in a prominent location on the listing detail page at no cost.
- The publisher will provide a prominent link to the broker, agent, and/or MLS website, home page or property detail page if provided, and will not use “nofollow” tags that negatively affect the SEO benefit of such links.
- If the publisher displays non-listing agent/firm information, then: (a) the full contact information for the listing agent/firm must be displayed at no charge, and these parties must be clearly identified as the listing agent/firm; (b) the listing/agent firm information must be displayed more prominently than the third-party agent/firm information; and (c) the site must not send leads to third party agents or firms if the consumer has not selected them as a contact recipient, and non-listing agents and firms will not be the default (pre-selected) choice for consumer contact.
- The publisher has a process for ensuring data accuracy with the data provider(s); ensuring data is updated or removed as appropriate, at least every three days.
- The publisher displays the date the listing data was last confirmed and updated, and the name of the data provider.
- The publisher respects the intellectual property of brokers and MLSs. The terms and conditions do not require brokers and MLSs to give up rights (beyond display rights) or to grant rights in perpetuity. The terms and conditions allow the listings to be used only for the explicit purpose for which they were provided. An accuracy disclaimer and copyright notice is displayed, attributing the copyright holder of the information. The publisher must obtain explicit consent from the date
provider f or any other uses or derivative works.
- The publisher does not re-syndicate, sub-license, power, or display listings on other websites without informing the data provider and obtaining their consent.
- The publisher will provide aggregate statistics regarding traffic, at no cost, to the data provider.
- The publisher provides reasonable mechanisms for preventing screen scraping and misuse of the listing data, understanding that s ome listing information must be exposed to search engines.
- The publisher does not re-syndicate to or “power” sites that fail to uphold the previously described rights.
Passing versus failing grades
When these ten “rights” were applied to the current state of real estate search sites’ offerings, they were scored on a ten point scale with the following results:
- Homes.com – 7.25 out of 10
- Realtor.com (Move, Inc.)- 7 out of 10
- AOL (powered by Move) – 7 out of 10
- Yahoo! (powered by Zillow) – 6.25 out of 10
- MSN (powered by Move) – 6 out of 10
- Front Door – 6 out of 10
- Zillow – 4.75 out of 10
- Trulia – 4.25 out of 10
In other words, if 70 is a passing grade in the school of syndication, according to this report, only three real estate search companies pass. Barely. Some may or may not be surprised at how highly Homes.com and Realtor.com rank while tech startups Zillow and Trulia get stamped with a failing grade.
Homes.com supports Bill of Rights
Dominion Homes Media (Homes.com parent company) Vice President and General Manager, Andy Woolley told us, “We work hard to balance the needs of our various partners, content providers, and advertisers in creating a positive consumer search experience on Homes.com. We plan to continue participating actively in driving for standards such as Clareity’s suggested “Bill of Rights” and in other similar efforts to protect content providers and benefit the consumers visiting Homes.com.”
Adopting or ignoring?
What remains unseen is not only how real estate professionals or MLSs will engage the proposed Syndication Bill of Rights but how the real estate search companies will adapt, adjust or ignore. The National Association of Realtors Mid-Year Conference is in May and voting on MLS issues (not necessarily the “Bill of Rights”) could impact this debate.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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