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Smarter Agent suing more companies over mobile real estate search patent

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Smarter Agent filing another round of lawsuits

Smarter Agent was named a “Genius 30” game changer last year for their power grab like none seen before as they plow through the real estate industry, suing company after company for their ownership of the patent for “global positioning-based real estate database access device and method,” “position based information access device and method” and “position based information access device and method of searching.”

In summary, the lawsuits allege that no one but Smarter Agent can create a mobile app in which real estate is searched- not IDX, not third party sites, not agents, not brokers, and when a company does, they protect their patent by suing for injunctive relief and monetary damages. Despite being New Jersey based, the company has again filed suit in Delaware which is notorious for being lenient on companies pursuing patent infringement cases.

In 2010, they sued Zillow, Hotpads, Boopsie, Move Inc., Trulia, ZipRealty and others.

Today, Smarter Agent has filed suit against MobileRealtyApps.com (StreetEasy), Goomzee, Kurio, Diverse Solutions, Market Leader, Hillside Software, ForSaleByOwner.com, and Terrostar Technology Solutions for their alleged patent infringement and they are asking for injunctive relief and monetary damages.

We’ve opined in the past that patents are worth protecting, but that some patents (potentially this one) impede technological and business progress and ultimately penalize the real estate professional end user whose pocket ends up emptier as they pay the penalty, and their offering for clients ends up lighter.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Gary Little

    October 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Some of the companies being sued have been in business for many years. I'm wondering if the plaintiff has waited too long to sue — i.e., the limitation period has expired.

  2. Drew Meyers - Virtual Results

    October 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Sweet. Sue everyone..what a great business model they have.

  3. Tina Merritt

    October 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I'm thinking "Smarter Agent" isn't really an appropriate name for their company.

  4. Jonathan Benya

    October 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I don't think the concept of suing everyone possible is a wise use of resources, but to each their own. I suspect they have bitten off more than they can chew; how exclusive can the ability to search for homes on a phone really be?

  5. Don

    November 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I use "Smarter Agent" and I think its a great service. I can understand why they are upset. If I were them I would not want people coping my technology If I was the first to come out with it.

  6. Eric

    January 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I agree that when you have a patient on items, you need to protect it. However, Smarter Agent is way heavy handed on this and even as far as to say "no one but Smarter Agent can create a mobile app in which real estate is searched- not IDX, not third party sites, not agents, not brokers", seriously??? They don't even own the data that is used, heck if mls' wanted to be stinkers about it, they could restrict their data usage. Then where would their patients get them, nowhere. And their product is cut-rate at best, maybe that is why they are doing it. If you can't play, take your ball home!!

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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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Housing News

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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aging housing inventory

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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Housing News

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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