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Liveblogging Dale Ross and Marty Frame Presenting RPR to the MLS Executives Session

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Dale Ross

Dale Ross takes the podium; he’s an imposing man.

He says it took 4 months to negotiate with LPS/Cyberhomes.  There are seventeen separate agreements, which cover topics like license terms, source code ownership, and so forth.

Ross stresses that while RPR has partners, they are partners via contract rather than by having equity shares in RPR.  RPR is 100% owned by NAR.

He says NAR put in $20mm over 5 years.  The business model is data sales to government and Wall Street.  Ross says LPS came to NAR and said, “there’s a way to use derivative analytics data products”; LPS has these relationships already set up, and has a huge marketing arm.

He feels there seems to be a need in the market for RVM, a value for each of the 147mm properties in the country.

1. Take the LPS records
2. Take the MLS data, and merge it together to form RPR record
3.  Then do analytics
4.  Create derivative data product; sell that product

$250mm spent by Wall St. on real-estate related data; LPS believes that in the 4-5 yr cycle, $60-90mm market for the analytics product; split is 50/50 between LPS and RPR.

License agreements what RPR can and cannot do with the data.  Ross stresses that no raw data will be given to anyone; only custom, derivative datasets.

No fee to MLS for the public records; but there will be a fee for integration.  (Wonder what this means?  Integration of the public data will be custom by MLS?  No API access?)

Ross says RPR is NOT exclusive with LPS.  (So in theory, First American or Claritas can sell RVM or RPR data to corporate clients?  Could Altos be licensed to sell RPR data to agents and brokers?)  He notes that RPR’s license with MLS is also not exclusive.  (Hmm — what does it mean that RPR’s license with the MLS is also not exclusive?)

Ross says there will be no revenue stream back to the MLS.  The benefit to MLS is that RPR believes it can help the MLS cut some of the costs on public data.  Plus, the toolset (the website) will help MLS save money, and Ross thinks RVM will be popular with agents and appraisers

Marty Frame

Marty Frame sounds tired.  And bored.  It’s as if he’s been giving this presentation over and over and over again to dozens of people and groups.

WHOA! RPR will provide an API for VOW technology vendors.  That’s news.

Member Contacts and Networks built into RPR — why exactly is this tool here?

Expert moderated discussions???  What could Marty mean by this?  Who moderates?  Who are the experts?

Q&A

I’m not going to cover every question, or every word of the answer here.  But these are what I find interesting, and the answers I think are interesting.

Question is what is the critical mass for RPR.

Ross says rollout will be by regions.  So if California is first, then RPR will do California first.  The way he phrased it is interesting: “If REALTORS want it, then the MLS’s cooperate, then we can do California”.

They have a plan of action; they know who the largest MLS’s are; they are talking to everyone and will be contacting MLS’s with live demonstrations and how the system will work.

Question: Will a REALTOR have access to the entire country?

Ross: Yes, the whole country.  But business rules are being worked out.

NON-REALTOR members get less access.  (I didn’t know they would get ANY access.)  I guess these would be the appraisers and such?  Or simply Licensees.

Question: I should give you my Sold Data because…

Ross: It’s not for you, but for your membership.  Because RPR will give your members tools to make them better practitioners.

This tool isn’t built for you and me, but for Gen-Y; they’re entering the industry and they’re going to be consumers.  They’re used to having data, so we need to do this for them.

Question: What do people who are members of NAR (REALTORS), but not subscribers to the MLS, get?

IF you belong to NAR, but not to the MLS, then you get everything in the application, but NOT the MLS data.  They will, however, get the RVM.

So either way, even if MLS’s don’t participate,

Question: The MLS data is what drives this; but you said no revenue share for MLS.  Why is that?

(CLAPPING by audience; I think this group is more hostile to RPR than one might imagine.)

Ross says he’s willing to look at revenue share 5 years out, depending on what the revenue looks like.  I don’t think he won this audience over with that.

Marty Frame just said that RPR will do a bunch of data cleansing and data normalization on MLS data.  WOW.

Question: Can brokers opt out?  Can MLS’s opt out?

Brokers can opt out.

The MLS can opt out and terminate the license agreement if they choose.  Hmm.  I’d like to see the termination provision.

Adjustments to the system “stick” only to your individual change.

The Q&A ends.

Thoughts

That was quite a bit to try and take in.

The three or four key takeaways for me are these:

1.  RPR seems pretty deadset against revenue share.  The notion that MLS’s should cooperate even though there’s nothing in it for them, because there’s a great wonderful doodad for the membership seems… optimistic.  What’s truly amazing about this is that Dale Ross said several times that “we (RPR) can’t do it without you (MLS)”.  I have to wonder, okay… can they (MLS) do it without you (RPR)?

2.  RPR will provide a VOW API.  This strikes me as important, because it’s the first I’ve heard about a way to get data out of the system.  But at the same time, it strikes me as important because if broker/agent websites start pulling VOW data out of RPR instead of out of the MLS, that’s yet another customer touchpoint lost to the MLS.  If RPR can provide a VOW API, why couldn’t it provide an IDX API?

3.  People who are REALTORS (aka, members of NAR) but not subscribers to the MLS will get everything sans MLS data.  That means all of the public records, all the school info, all the demographic and psychographic info, etc.  Wow.  I’m trying to figure out how a smart REALTOR could leverage this to his/her benefit.  One consequence here is that companies like Onboard and eNeighborhoods simply have very little value in the post-RPR world.

4.  This group, the MLS executives, appeared to me to be largely hostile and at best skeptical.  If RPR really wants to launch this by April 1st of 2010, Marty and his team have their work cut out for them.  The civil war I predicted isn’t quite civil war… but this has the smell of the Missouri Compromise era.

-rsh

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Rob Hahn
Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Rob – I'm interested in getting your opinion on RPR if MLS's en mass decide not to cooperate. Do you think the RPR will still be a viable product? If this endeavor falls flat on its face, what happens to NAR? It seems to me that NAR is betting its future on this. If it fails, because it's members don't want to play ball with them, what does that say about their tenuous relationship. Looking forward to your insights and future posts as this soap opera unfolds.

  2. Keen comments, as always. I find it inconceivable that with the prospect of spending $20+ million, the RPR business model did not take into account some revenue for the data they need from the MLSs; yet they had $12 million to give to both LPS for the technology and tax/assessor entities for the “public informaton”. And why couldn't RPR plan for some revenuew share with the MLSs “if and when” there were profits down the road; no profit, no sharing, but if you do make money the MLSs get a piece to offset their costs and lower their fees to the MLS member users.

  3. Rob, I'm interested in the IDX API aspect of this. We have four different MLSs within an hour of where I am and it would be great to be able to show clients home for sale all around rather than limiting then to my immediate area. At the very least, I can maximize my website to attract more people and refer the out-lying business.

    Hope you're having fun at NAR!

  4. Rob, I'm interested in the IDX API aspect of this. We have four different MLSs within an hour of where I am and it would be great to be able to show clients home for sale all around rather than limiting then to my immediate area. At the very least, I can maximize my website to attract more people and refer the out-lying business.

    Hope you're having fun at NAR!

  5. Rob, I'm interested in the IDX API aspect of this. We have four different MLSs within an hour of where I am and it would be great to be able to show clients home for sale all around rather than limiting then to my immediate area. At the very least, I can maximize my website to attract more people and refer the out-lying business.

    Hope you're having fun at NAR!

Comments are closed.