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Realtor.com updates contract with NAR after 14 years

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After a four month process, Move, Inc. (Realtor.com) and the National Association of Realtors have formally amended their operating agreement, having completed an 8k filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This agreement has not been updated since 1996 (you know, when Clinton was the President and Ella Fitzgerald and Gene Kelly were still alive) which until today did not account for the massive technological advancements since that time, namely web based advancements.

During this four month discussion, Move, Inc.’s Senior Director of Public Relations, Julie Reynolds said that they mostly found common ground with the National Association of Realtors which meant there was no arbitration surrounding the contract agreement updates. Reynolds says that they are “very pleased with the outcome of the discussion and excited to move forward in a collaborative relationship.”

Here’s the big news:

There is much speculation over the details of the agreement which have yet to be revealed, but the largest update is that NAR has agreed in the contract to allow Move, Inc. to syndicate to third party sites although no agreements with any third party vendor have been finalized as of yet. Industry insiders are speculating that Realtor.com in the future will syndicate to Zillow.com, Trulia.com and the like, given that their data is not as timely or accurate as Realtor.com data.

Reynolds noted that one of Move, Inc.’s core competencies is marketing services, so syndication is “a natural evolution” to that offering.

Supporters believe this move will allow for Realtors to streamline their aggregation efforts and arm consumers with more accurate data (allowing Realtors to take calls that don’t sound like, “but Zillow said…”). Others speculate that Move Inc. is making a move to offer bait of listings to third party aggregation sites, allowing them to improve their offering with this new data source, then ultimately pricing those third party aggregators out of business. Critics fear this could hit their bottom line down the road as an additional cost.

At this point, there is not much publicly available about the agreement update, so rather than jump to conclusions about who final partners will be or criticize a bottom line impact, Benn Rosales, CEO of AgentGenius.com said, “we are taking a wait and see approach. We like the words ‘collaborative’ between NAR and Move, Inc. and hopefully they’ll both open the door to conversation about what the architecture of this agreement looks like in five years so that the membership’s interests are protected.”

Article above amended to reflect that mediation did occur during this process and “Realtor.com” was replaced with “Move, Inc.” in regards to data syndication.

Full press release:

CAMPBELL, Calif., Sept 16, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Move, Inc. (Nasdaq: MOVE), the leader in online real estate, today announced recent discussions related to their 14-year operating agreement have resulted in an updated agreement intended to drive more competitive and rapid innovations to their flagship site, Realtor.com®.

The discussions between the two organizations revolved around bringing clarity and alignment to key issues surrounding site innovations, content modifications, and approvals so Move and NAR can drive faster and more competitive improvements on Realtor.com.

“NAR is pleased to continue and strengthen our agreement with Move. Updating the operating agreement underlines both NAR’s and Move’s commitment to ensure that real estate professionals remain as the first point of contact in the real estate transaction,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Association, Tucson, Ariz.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of these discussions with our partner NAR. We’re looking forward to a stronger and more collaborative relationship guided by an updated agreement enabling Move to drive more competitive innovations on Realtor.com that will enhance consumer’s search experience while empowering Realtors® with a greater range of valuable marketing services,” said Move, Inc. Chief Executive Officer, Steve Berkowitz. “We entered the discussions seeking clarity and alignment yet achieved much more as we quickly found vast common ground related to our mutual objective to connect consumers with Realtors. The internet and competitive environment have evolved dramatically since our original agreement was crafted in 1996. Under this updated agreement, Move is now positioned to usher in a new era of innovation. The industry looks to us as the category leader in today’s fast-paced technology-driven market place.”

The updated operating agreement now provides provisions intended to streamline the development and delivery process for improvements to site features and functionalities, as well as clarifies certain areas of content now requiring NAR approval. As a result, Move anticipates it can make innovations to the Realtor.com site more rapidly to remain at the forefront of advancement in today’s highly competitive and information-driven environment.

“The agreement continues to ensure certain content protections for real estate brokers in regards to property listed on Realtor.com,” said Dale Stinton, chief executive officer of NAR. “In addition, and as a result of these discussions, approval provisions were added to the agreement that reflect and reaffirm both organizations’ commitment to ensure that brokers and Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) remain in control of their proprietary listing data and related information that displays on Realtor.com.”

In addition to the discussions surrounding the operating agreement, NAR and Move discussed the benefits Move can deliver to real estate professionals, MLSs, and consumers by syndicating listing data content to third parties such as online portals, real estate listing sites and other designated destinations. As a result, Move received consent from NAR to syndicate listing data content in accordance with each data content provider’s [MLSs and brokers] permission and instructions.

“Move remains committed to delivering the most valuable online real estate experience to real estate professionals, advertisers and consumers by remaining focused on continually evolving our products and services to meet their diverse needs and expectations,” comments Errol Samuelson, chief revenue officer for Move, Inc., and president of Realtor.com. “By updating our operating agreement with NAR and expanding the relationship to enable a more competitive approach to how we operate the business, we can fully leverage our leadership position to deliver the right products and services with the most comprehensive and freshest data content available in a manner that successfully connects consumers with real estate professionals and advertisers at the right time.”

The amended operating agreement between Move and NAR was filed on Thursday, September 16, 2010 as an 8K filing.

-Move, Inc. is an advertiser at AgentGenius.com. AG has no financial relationship with the National Association of Realtors.

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Matt Carter

    September 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Hey Lani, not sure where you got the idea “there was no mediation or arbitration surrounding the contract agreement updates.” Here is what Move CEO Steve Berkowitz said in the company’s Aug. 5 conference call with investors:

    “Since we last spoke with you, we’ve had a series of business discussions with the NAR, both with a mediator and without. I believe we made strides in getting consensus on how we can move forward.”

    When I talked to Steve today, he acknowledged that getting a mediator involved had helped Move and NAR acknowledge their common goals. But he did make a point of saying they never went to arbitration.

    Article 10 of the 1996 operating agreement describes a dispute resolution process that Move triggered in May. The process requires that disagreements be submitted for mediation if they can’t be resolved within 15 days. Both parties have an additional 15 days to agree on a mediator. If the dispute is not resolved after 30 days of mediation, the process moves to binding arbitration. Arbitration can be delayed if both parties agree to extend the 30-day mediation window.

    So when Move and NAR couldn’t work out their differences, the process by definition had to move to mediation, but they didn’t feel it was necessary to go to arbitration.

    BTW, before the amendment announced today, the last update to the agreement was in 1999 (not 1996).

    The original Nov. 26, 1996 Realtor.com operating agreement is on file with the SEC as Exhibit 10.02 to the Homestore.com Inc. S-1 registration statement, filed on May 28, 1999 (Move Inc. was formerly known as Homestore):

    sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1085770/0000944209-99-000909.txt

    The S-1 filing also includes the joint ownership (of software) agreement between NAR and NetSelect (Exhibit 10.04), and the Realtor and Realtor.com trademark license (Exhibit 10.05).

    The Nov. 26, 1996 Realtor.com operating agreement has been amended twice.

    The first amendment, dated Dec. 27, 1996, is Exhibit 10.02.2 of Homestore’s S-1/A registration statement, filed June 17, 1999:

    sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1085770/0000944209-99-000992.txt

    The second amendment, dated May 28, 1999, is Exhibit 10.02.3 of the S-1/A.

    The amendment announced today is exhibit 10.1 of the 8-K filing:

    sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1085770/000095012310086527/v57351exv10w1.htm

    • Kelsey/AG

      September 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Matt, this is Kelsey with AG. I appreciate your comment on the story. We made corrections in regard to mediation and arbitration last night, but you may not have seen them without a hard refresh of the page. Content here is cached. If you still cannot see the corrections, let us know.

      Thanks,

      Kelsey

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    September 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This would be a huge improvement for consumers who use Zillow/Trulia/etc since the quality of their syndication-based listing data is just horrible. The quality of R.com’s data is far superior since it is sourced from MLSs.

    I do wonder if these guys would actually pay more for accurate listing data, however. Even though it would make their sites a much better resource for consumers, would they get enough incremental visitors/revenue to make it worthwhile? I guess that’s the question.

  3. Bruce Lemieux

    September 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Another thought. This would add a lot of value to us schmucks who pay R.com for ‘enhanced listings’ if our direct contact info, additional listing info, etc was pushed out to other national providers. This would make it a lot easier to write my annual check to R.com.

    • Paula Henry

      September 18, 2010 at 9:21 am

      Bruce – I personally do not see any value in R.com showcase listings or auto post to Trulia and Zillow. See my comment below.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        September 18, 2010 at 10:17 am

        Paula – I question the value of R.com showcase listings as well. When I meet buyers who find my listings, R.com still comes up as a source. It’s still low on the list, but it does come up. Also, I’ve set myself up as a ‘virtual tour’ provider which allows me to add my my branded listing page as the R.com virtual tour. This week, I’ve had 15 referrals from R.com as a result. It tells me that buyers are seeing my listings there. Still, a very small % of my web traffic.

  4. Fred Griffin

    September 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    So when a Broker or Agent enters data into MLS, that data will now belong to Move.com.

    Move will sell that information to whomever they please, including Zillow and Trulia. Move will decide when, where, and how the Listing gets presented, with no input from Agents or Brokers.

    Come on NAR, we expect more from you. At the very least, an Opt-Out or Edit Feature for any website that our Listings get posted on.

    • Julie Reynolds

      September 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Fred –

      Read your post and concern about data rights and ownership related to the announcement yesterday regarding syndication.

      Including a link to the press release Move and NAR distributed yesterday for further clarification. https://news.move.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=192403&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1471939&highlight=

      In short, Move received consent from NAR to syndicate listing data content in accordance with each data content provider’s [MLSs and brokers] permission and instructions.

      As you know, content providers ‘own’ their listing data, no one else. Thus, should Move offer syndication solutions to our industry partners, syndication would only occur in accordance with the content providers permission and instruction.

      Hope this helps.

  5. BawldGuy

    September 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    At first glance it strongly appears as if NAR has yet again sold its membership down the river. Gotta admire their consistency.

  6. Jim Gatos

    September 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Why doesn’t Google come into this and kick Move.com’s ass?

    I mean, they’re doing great with everything else, LOL

  7. Fred Glick

    September 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Did NAR ever hear of competitive bidding?

    They own the domain realtor.com and could have found another partner, done it themselves or dictated much, much, much better terms for the membership.

  8. Paula Henry

    September 18, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I am but one small voice of NAR. So, for what it?s worth………… these are my thoughts.

    One question I ponder, “how much money exchanges hands for the right to distribute the listings we provide”.

    As soon as all the third party aggregators have a complete list of all listings in the MLS, with a direct feed, how much do you think they will charge for you to be the *featured agent* ? How much will Move charge now for the pleasure of having a showcased listing?

    Do you think these sites care about the accuracy of the data? They want the data, so they can be the source of the information, and then charge more to advertise there.

    I recently asked an agent who advertises on a few of these sites if she has seen a return on her investment. She said no, but she does it because her clients expect it. Her clients expect it because we, as agents, set the expectation! Two years ago, our clients didn?t know about Trillium and Z-low, but thanks to all those free widgets agents adorn their sites with, we have given them the power to be known. Same thing for R.com or any other site with a widget. I wonder what would happen if every agent across America took those free widgets off their sites? Would it diminish their rankings? Just a thought!

    Here?s more food for thought – every widget on your site takes visitors OFF your site where they can find a link to your competitor. Provide site visitors the information we so freely give everywhere else and keep them on our site. We are the ones with the local knowledge our visitors want and need.

    Until now, the data on most of these sites is inaccurate. They don?t update unless the agent goes in and updates. The game is about to change if they receive a direct feed from R.com. Our local boards can stop this madness, if they disallow automatic syndication.
    A mentor once told me; use these companies for what they can do for you without giving them power to dominate you.

    I may be seen as a rebel; so be it! I?m not – I just believe I work too hard to give away my content and knowledge for the benefit of a company who has no interest in whether or not I am successful. We all do!

  9. Paula Henry

    September 18, 2010 at 9:39 am

    One more thing – do you remember when these sites were FREE!

    In conversation with someone who was creating a widget for agents. His comment was; agents are stupid and will take anything that is FREE! He knew every widget displayed was a link back to him. Sadly, it worked and he will outrank his competitors.

    I checked a local competitor?s site who advertises the Z-low mortgage widget. In the source code, I see no less than five links back to the site. It?s really long code, so it could be more.

    You want to rank – get rid of the widgets that give everyone else a back link and create your own back links.

    Sorry to be so long winded and create a mini post, but last night my son called me. He wants to buy a home in Chino Hills California. Do you know the top five listings for Chino Hills Real Estate in Google do not belong to an agent or a broker. Sad!

    • Rob McCance

      September 18, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Darn right, Paula!

      It’s ridiculous. I love the posts about some new WordPress widget that’s really great and apparently many agents use it, recommend it and like it.

      None of them know or care about the back links it creates to their COMPETITORS.

      I’m sorry to inform everyone but if your goal is to rank highly and attract targeted traffic, all for the purposes of lead generation, then all these good buddies are your competition: Trulia, Zillow, RE.com, Homegain, Redfin, Hotpads, etc., etc…

  10. Bruce Lemieux

    September 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Accurate listing data is everywhere via IDX-based websites. How many of us use IDX providers on our site? We do this so we can profit from the listings of others. Buyers call me about other agent’s listings found on my site. I pay for the data and I work hard to provide content to attract buyers. Is that wrong? Would Zillow/Trulia be any different?

    Zillow/Trulia currently do a big disservice to consumers by presenting listing data that’s crap. Consumers would definitely benefit if these sites had accurate data. NAR says they will “ensure that real estate professionals remain as the first point of contact in the real estate transaction”. If so, so be it.

    • Paula Henry

      September 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Bruce –

      Thanks for your input!

      IDX was created as a cooperative between brokers and yes, I have people call me about other brokers listings and they call other broker’s about my listings. No, it’s not wrong; this is what our sellers expect; that our marketing will procure a buyer. Other brokers expect the same; that through their marketing, I may bring the buyer.

      Trulia, Zillow and other companies are NOT the same. They are not bound by our IDX agreement. Their own TOS state once you submit data you basically relinquish all rights to it.

      Trulia’s TOS -You agree that by posting content on the Site, you are granting Trulia a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to publish, reproduce, distribute, display, adapt, and otherwise use this content in any manner on or in connection with the Site or in the course of offering the Services. You understand and agree that any User Content that you post or submit to Trulia may be redistributed through the internet and other media channels, and may be viewed by the general public

      Zillow’s TOS -For materials you post or otherwise provide to Zillow or in connection with the Services (your “Submission”), you grant Zillow an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide license to (a) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, and translate your Submission, in connection with the Services or in any other media, and (b) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Zillow will not pay you for your Submission. Zillow may remove your Submission at any time. For each Submission, you represent that you have all rights necessary to grant Zillow the rights in this paragraph and that the Submission complies with Section 2(a) above. You may not share your Zillow user account with others. You are responsible for all actions taken via your account. Zillow will treat your use of the Services in accordance with its Privacy Policy.

      NAR says they will make sure real estate professional remain the first point of contact, but can they ensure that once the data is posted to all the other sites, that we will remain the first point of contact? I’m not sure they can if R.com is given permission to syndicate to these and other sites. If they can. at what cost?

      Right now, many see this as a great opportunity to have their listings everywhere and they gladly pay a monthly fee for the right to have their picture there as a featured agent. Looking forward, what if any of these companies decide they want to get a brokers license in every state and start selling back the leads at 25, 30 or 40%, would that change the dynamics of the IDX? Would we be as willing to provide everyone with the data? Or. would it be too late, since they already have the data?

      These are questions I have. Maybe they are far-fetched, I don’t know.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        September 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

        Hi Paula. I couldn’t imagine that the current TOS for Zillow/Trulia would apply if they paid for R.com listings. I would expect that Z/T’s use of listing data would be tightly controlled — exactly like it is for IDX data.

        Zillow and Trulia would become direct competitors to Move to sell ‘featured agent’ slots (a total waste of money, IMO). As an agent, I would expect that my paid ‘showcase’ listing data would move over to Z/T without additional cost. I would never pay to enhance listings on R.com *and* Trulia *and* Zillow. The value of having showcase listings on R.com would decrease if Z/T presented R.com listing data, so I would probably stop paying to enhance R.com listings altogether unless I paid *once* at R.com.

  11. Steve Krzysiak

    September 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I try to stay away from RE issues these days, but this article caught my eye for a few reasons. Good read Lani.

    Regarding the google comment, they are already kicking ass. Just not predominantly. I had a listing that I searched for on trulia, zillow, & realtor and I didn’t make front page. I did the same search on google RE, and guess what? I was first. Furthermore, google actually showed me the nearby properties. Not an endless list of ‘featured listings.’ I now recommend google RE search to all friends and family. I’m sure others have begun to do so, and this will grow. Fingers crossed, one day RE consumers will have a good search, thus improving the overall image of our industry.

    Google’s money is in marketing, and they succeed by doing what others do better. Don’t think they aren’t interested in RE, since the top 3 portals have sold good search for revenue. This should be a walk in the park for them.

  12. Ryan Crozier - Indianapolis Realtor

    September 20, 2010 at 1:50 am

    I completely agree with Paula… I think this is a step in the wrong direction. Why GIVE a company something who’s sole goal is to turn and sell it back to you and other agents?

    I am newer to the RE industry and it makes absolutely no sense to me that NAR would do such a thing… regardless of whether or not they are looking out for us as agents (which should be the goal) they shouldn’t do it for their OWN benefit. Why would you sell your most prized possession & competitive advantage to your competition? The only time I would do that is if I know I have no future. It’s a forfeit.

    Absolutely ridiculous.

  13. james

    March 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    It will be interesting to see what steps NAR will take to further sell out the people they pretend to represent. Realtors do the work and Realtor.com gets rich off their efforts. Whats next will realtors need to pay more money to “Claim their Listings” What a Joke! Wake up Realtors NAR works for you and yet they continue to sell your work to Realtor.com and then Realtor.com charges you to “Claim Your Listing” now with the new F I N D program that NAR and Realtor.com have negotiated you will probably have to pay to “Claim the Listings you SOLD”. URGENT Call NAR and tell them to quit selling you out your future is at risk.

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Austin

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?

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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.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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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.

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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.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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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.

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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

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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