Tag Archives: IDX

Listhub Acquires Point2; I Think of TS Eliot

point2

[EDIT: Please see the clarification posted below.]

I’ve been hearing rumblings about a big game-changing deal for a couple of days, and this morning, it’s been confirmed. Listhub, a Move entity, has acquired Point2 from Yardi, bringing all listings syndication in the United States under one roof.

From Celeste Starchild, General Manager of Listhub:

Move has acquired the Point2 U.S.-based syndication business to further our shared vision of delivering a single listing aggregation, storage and distribution service.  As one of our key partners, we wanted to make sure that you were among the first to hear this good news.

Point2 realized the benefits to the industry of having a single platform, and ultimately worked with ListHub to help bring it to fruition.  The ListHub vision is to provide the industry with a single platform to improve data synchronization between systems, organize appropriate data licensing provisions for participants, and solve for the fragmentation and duplication of efforts that occurs throughout our industry today. Combining the Point2 and ListHub technologies into a single platform is a giant leap forward in reaching these goals.

Benefits to the industry of the single platform include:

  • Better access to listing data for thousands of brokers and franchises who operate across multiple MLSs
  • Increased accuracy for online listings, as agent-entered listings will be transitioned to MLS-connected solutions wherever possible
  • Enhanced customer service to the industry through a single help desk
  • Ability to better measure the results of online marketing across sites and across MLS markets 
  • Leading data protections for all brokerages through ListHub’s comprehensive publisher agreements
  • Ability for software and website technology companies to focus efforts on innovation for REALTORS®, not managing data from multiple sources

How will the acquisition work?

  • The ListHub platform technology will be provided to all of Point2’s previous MLS customers (in the U.S.)
  • ListHub and Point2 will work collaboratively with each MLS to cutover all of Point2’s U.S. based MLS customers to ListHub over the next six months.
  • The MLS-connected Point2 syndication service will operate unchanged for each MLS market during the period prior to their ListHub cutover date to ensure no disruption in service.
  • Once an MLS market is transitioned, the Point2 syndication service will cease operations.

NOTE: While it’s nice of Celeste to say I am a “key partner”, I assume this was a blast email that went out to their actual key partners. :) As the main thing I partner with Listhub on is karaoke with their people, I doubt the phrase applies to me.

In any event… a couple of thoughts.

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The Five Unspeakables from the California Association of REALTORS Event

IMAG0262

The above is my view right now, as I’m in the Lakes of the Ozarks for an event tomorrow and Friday, so this post is heavily influenced by the fact that I’m sitting at a bar with a tropical drink, listening to Jimmy Buffet. So if it seems a bit of a disconnected ramble… blame Margaritaville.

But I did get some requests to discuss the event on Monday in San Jose for the California Association of REALTORS. I love this event, because it brings together leadership of organized real estate to look at serious strategic issues in the industry. CAR likes to push the thinking beyond business as usual, and I’m honored to participate.

Steve Murray of REALTrends was spectacular. If you’ve never heard him speak, make arrangements to do so. If you haven’t read his new book Gamechangers, make arrangements to do so. He’s far more radical than you might think for a stalwart of the industry, and he sees almost all of the big issues confronting us. I’m not going to go into much detail of his presentation, since you can get most of it from the book, and I don’t want to misrepresent inadvertently. Instead, let’s talk briefly about my presentation.

I actually went into the event with a different presentation in mind, but based on what I had heard that morning, made the command decision to talk about the five things that we in the industry talk about privately, acknowledge as problems, but don’t really discuss in polite company. So here’s the gist of the Five Unspeakables.

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Clareity Goes Back to the Future Beyond Syndication

Back To the Future

“Marty! I went back in time before Listhub! It was amazing!”

My friends at Clareity, Gregg Larsen and Matt Cohen, have just released a white paper they co-authored titled Beyond Syndication that is worth reading in full if you’re interested in this sort of thing. They include an overview of where things stand today, and then make a recommendation or two. Despite the fact that I declare Syndication dead as an issue a couple of years ago, it’s like a zombie that refuses to go away, so I have to write on it to see what I think about it.

At the same time, I think this white paper is significant in that it strikes a different tone in some respects, and perhaps we can consider it a step forward in putting the syndication issue to bed once and for all.

Having said all that… I was expecting something a bit more… ah… dramatic given the title. I suppose the role of the dramatic overstatement and questions no one wants to ask is mine and mine alone. :)

So let’s get into it.

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NAR General Counsel Warns About Dangers of Failing to Syndicate

Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson, General Counsel of NAR

In case you haven’t seen this yet, Katie Johnson, the General Counsel of NAR, has written an article that comes as close to a formal legal opinion on dangers of failing to syndicate listings.

Well, actually, she warns about the practice of pre-marketing, also known as “Coming Soon” but the logic that she uses applies with full force to the practice of not syndicating listings to major portals.

The full article is here.

Since I’ve had fun with Sam DeBord’s Inman article in the past in which I draw parallels between “pocket listings” and syndication, I find the paragraph below super interesting:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to national websites without also making it available to other area brokers and agents and their buyer-clients through the MLS results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

If we take for granted that best interest = highest possible price, and that highest possible price results from maximizing exposure… the above paragraph could be rewritten this way:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to the MLS without also making it available to national websites with their tens of millions of buyer visitors results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

Yes, yes, I know — the MLS is different from national portals, because shut up. Just like how it’s a terrible evil when an agent can pay to be advertised next to a listing about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, but if she pays an IDX vendor to setup a website on which she can put listings about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, why, that’s completely different, because shut up.

But hey, Katie Johnson writes:

It’s important that sellers understand the implications of various ways of marketing the property so that they can knowingly determine the choice that best serves their interests.

Yeah. Well, let’s hope there aren’t any trial lawyers reading this blog who might become super interested in just how much a seller was briefed about the implications of not sending listings to some of the highest trafficked websites in real estate, and knowingly determined the choice that best served his interests.

As an industry, we could continue going down this path, of course, and we’re likely to do that, because… well.. masochism, I guess. Or we might ask why these pre-marketing tactics and private clubs and so on are happening and take a hard look at underlying causes.

Heh, I know. I know.

The Realcomp Anti-Trust Ruling Will Affect MLS Syndication

6thcircuit

Inman News reports that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Realcomp II in a years-long case:

Michigan’s largest multiple listing service “unreasonably restrained competition” among real estate brokers by refusing to transmit exclusive agency property listings favored by discount brokers to Realtor.com and other public-facing Web sites, a federal appeals court has ruled.

At issue was whether Realcomp’s refusal to transmit Exclusive Agency listings to places like Realtor.com was anti-competitive. Since Realcomp’s policy only applies to a tiny fraction of listings in the market, Laurie Janik, the outgoing General Counsel of NAR, suggested this wasn’t that big a deal:

NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik said that because other MLSs don’t have similar rules in place, the appeals court ruling is unlikely to have a wider impact. “I’m sure it’s extremely disappointing news to the folks at Realcomp, but it’s not the kind of case that’s going to send ripples across the rest of the industry,”

That’s especially true since the NAR’s MLS Policy prohibits the MLS from excluding Exclusive Agency listings from feeds, as Realcomp had done.

Nonetheless, I respectfully disagree with Ms. Janik. I think this ruling will send ripples across the rest of the industry. At the very least, it should since the next case that comes down the pike will surely look at Realcomp II, Ltd. v. FTC as precedent.

(By the way, for the non-lawyer folks, this case is especially significant because it came from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The only higher court is the Supreme Court. At least within the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, this ruling is binding. And throughout the country, the ruling will be extremely persuasive.)

Before we dive into why I think this ruling is significant, since I am doing law-blogging here, I have to say that this is in no way a legal opinion (I mean, c’mon, it’s a blog post) and that you should consult your own qualified legal counsel.

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