The Realtor.com Message Is Muddled Today — From FSBO’s to NAR’s Archive or Library

Nov 13, 2008  |  Michael Wurzer

There’s been quite a bit of controversy over whether Realtor.com is now accepting FSBO’s or not, which means it probably wasn’t the best day for Move, Inc., and NAR to announce that Move has been hired to build the NAR’s “library” or “archive” or whatever it’s being called today.   That Move was selected some time ago hasn’t been a big secret but I wonder how agents and brokers in the field will take the news that NAR is investing even more with Move?

From my perspective, if NAR really is intent on building a library, hiring Move is a reasonable decision.  I know several of the technical people at Move and they are some of the best in the business at massive data aggregation.  Many will complain, no doubt, that the Realtor.com web site hasn’t kept up with competition, but the library or archive project primarily is about data aggregation.  Of course, buying Zillow might have been a better investment, but that was probably too expensive.

18 Responses to “The Realtor.com Message Is Muddled Today — From FSBO’s to NAR’s Archive or Library”

  1. Jim Duncan says:

    The one question I have (to start; more as I process this public announcement) is this – how many other vendors did they consult before they defaulted to Move?

  2. I made the same comment on Inman stor, Jim. I don’t recall hearing anything about an RFP floating around from NAR. That would have been big news.

  3. We didn’t see an RFP either, but, that being said, my feeling is that those involved in the decision knew the potential players well enough that an RFP would have been a waste of energy except for the PR value of saying they did it. Given the PR problems Move/NAR has exhibited today with the FSBO dust up, however, a little bit of overt competition for the RPR business may have been prudent.

  4. Jim Duncan says:

    I’m thinking that at least going through the motions would have been valuable. As it is, it seems that this decision – to keep with the partner that by most accounts hasn’t been doing well what they’re supposed to be doing well – lends to even more apathy and possibly animosity.

  5. I think that Move has the ability to pull this off. But I also think that others are just as capable. The title divisions of First American and Fidelity do this type of data aggregation on a daily basis. For that matter eNeighborhoods powers the IDX feeds for remax.com, century21.com, coldwellbanker.com, and era.com, so they are also capable too. Move is far from alone in having the technical chops to implement. Any RFP would be more than just good PR or going through the motions, it would have made good business sense.

  6. The lack of an RFP doesn’t mean some or all of those companies weren’t considered or evaluated. All those entities are well-known and easily vetted without an RFP.

  7. […] The Realtor.com message Is muddled today… hmmm… where to start with a response   […]

  8. […] wrote about it.  Eric Blackwell over at  Bloodhoundblog wrote about it too.  I think Michael Wurzer’s response is spot on but that Michael was way too […]

  9. […] wrote about it.  Eric Blackwell over at  Bloodhoundblog wrote about it too.  I think Michael Wurzer’s response is spot on but that Michael was way too […]

  10. @MikeWurzer Maybe they can be vetted. My original premise was cost. I believe it would have been smart for NAR to get an idea of what other vendors might have charged.

  11. Again, the lack of an RFP doesn’t mean they didn’t get an idea of what others might charge. Overall, you’re right, the typical path would have been to issue an RFP. I guess I’m just suggesting that RFPs, though important, are not the be all and end all to ensure competition. Good, competitive decisions can be made without them.

  12. Kristen Carr says:

    Realtor.com, as we know, is operated by Move.com. Several years ago a new version of the Terms of Use of all Move.com sites was released. There is one section in particular which has bothered me tremendously:

    “By Transmitting Content to the Move Network, you grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Move an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, and distribute the Content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, the Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses (through multiple tiers) of the foregoing. Furthermore, by posting Content to any public area of the Move Network, you grant Move all rights necessary to prohibit any subsequent aggregation, display, copying, duplication, reproduction, or exploitation of the Content on the Move Network by any party for any purpose.”

    As the person who managed data licensing and distribution for an MLS, I worked very hard at ensuring the listings we were charged with managing for our subscribers would not be repurposed without our subscribers’ express permission. We were never able to make that happen with Realtor.com/Move.com. It’s something which still bothers me today and I am no longer with an MLS. While I would have loved to discontinue distribution to Move.com that was absolutely not an option. Our Board of Directors knew our policies were not being adhered to but also knew we had no choice but to continue our relationship. As a huge proponent of RETS and the ideals behind standardization it was very painful to me to keep Move.com on FTP but I did so in an effort to not be bulldozed, to protect our subscribers in that one little way.

    I believe the NAR has intended all along to use Move.com for its data aggregation. Why else would the ToU be written to allow Move.com to use the listing content in any way they want? This, in my opinion, isn’t a case where an RFP would have made any difference at all. As Mike says, the tech guys at Move.com are amazing. They truly know what they are doing, they do it well and are a pleasure to work with. Actually, the MLS sales people are some of the best in the business as well. That said, I still don’t agree with what they have done and will do with the information we are forced to give them. Listings are owned by brokers and those brokers have the right to decide what happens with them. I love data and get excited thinking about aggregation and statistics and marketing and retention…oh! and history! I love those things. I would love to get my hands on national data and run it through my fingers but I don’t feel I, or anyone else, has the right to do that without the listing brokers’ explicit consent. How does the NAR not see this?

  13. Wow, that really is broad language. I’d love to see the rest of the agreement. Typically there would be some language specifying the permitted uses. For example, something that would say, you can display it on R.com but not other sites, etc.

  14. Kristen Carr says:

    Click on the link to Terms of Use on Realtor.com or Move.com. Both link to the Move.com Terms of Use and make reference to “Move, Inc. and its subsidiaries and corporate affiliates (collectively, “Move”) operate a family of Web sites and associated Web pages. Move refers to this group of Web sites as the “Move Network™.”

    http://www.move.com/company/terms.aspx

    On our last RESO Board of Directors call I mentioned that my former employer does not allow RETS access to Move because of business reasons. *This* is the business reason. We have great technology out there but, occasionally, that technology is not utilized because we (sometimes) do what we can to stand up for what we believe.

  15. Thanks for the link Kristen, but isn’t there another agreement between Move and the MLS? That seems like a generic terms of use for the entire site, and not the license the MLS is granting to Move for the data they provide.

  16. Kristen Carr says:

    Yes, that link is the ToU for their sites. The issue is they would not sign our (and some other MLSs) data licensing contracts. When we started allowing access to our FTP servers years ago a lot of MLSs didn’t know or think to actually license that content. The thought had been that it didn’t really matter, it was just IDX data and it was Realtor.com. Once we realized an agreement would be prudent we could not get Move to sign our contract.

    I can give you a bit of a history, from my experience. When Patty Connor became the CEO of RMLS in FL we began trying to move people to RETS as well as looking into who was accessing our FTP server with the IDX file. Patty hired Darity Wesley to handle the contracts. We were immediately able to identify several organizations who were receiving our content without a contract. Most parties signed the contract and accepted our terms. That was 5 years ago. I left RMLS last year and can not speak to the current situation but, as of last February, the agreement with Move was still not executed.

    I’ve worked with a good deal of small and mid-sized MLSs who have had the same experience. The big ones (MRIS, MLSNI, FMLS) caught on sooner but the smaller ones took a very long time. I would love to see comments from Darity and Brian Larson, I would guess they saw an increase in this type of work right around the REBIG years.

    This is why I pushed to have the Business side of RETS represented. In the Intro to RETS and the Implementation sessions every single time since I started doing those 2 years ago there are smaller MLSs who simply don’t know how to manage that part of their data access. Once a company has been allowed access to the listing content it’s very difficult to turn them off. That’s what we found with Move. We simply couldn’t shut them down.

    I could go on about this for days. The RETS Education Group will be (once again) working to create some data licensing templates which MLSs can download, take to their local legal counsel and have customized for use in their market. I still get calls and emails every single week from MLSs asking for direction.

  17. Dorel Cioara says:

    The acceptance of limited representation is virtually the acceptance in many cases of FSBO’s on our MLS Systems. When the Limited Representation Model was introduced I shot letters off to Local, State, and NAR explaining this is not “just a new business model” but a jump into the direction of the lowering standards of our Association of Realtors! I can not speak for other states but when approaching the officials at the State of Arizona Licensing their position was “they do not recognize this limited representation” but will not go after the practitioners unless their clients/customers file complaints since the State’s position is that a Broker represents either Buyer, Seller or “both” under disclosed dual agency.

    I do not understand why all the “shock” in our real estate community regarding the FSBO’s claim on our systems- by virtue of this Business Model a flat fee is paid to the Limited Rep company to be entered into the MLS – compensation to the selling agent, due to FTC guidelines, can not be “set” so we have seen some with $1 compensation – true some offer higher(competitive compensation) amounts but as many of us were trained when becoming Buyer Reps that compensation should not be a factor in choosing which properties to show – though, unfortunately, local MLS operations and boards have concluded agents can select properties to show based on compensation – a violation, in my opinion of Fiduciary Responsibility or they may elect to have the Buyer compensate the difference! HEY, wouldn’t that in fact being the similar to showing FSBO since, ultimately, through any purchase a Buyer is in fact paying the “commissions” by virtue of paying the Purchase Price?

    I am aware that some states have amended their real estate department rules and regulations allowing almost anything but since the Realtor community is held to “Higher Standards” even requiring the Quadrennial code of “Ethics” which has been amended so many time eliminating not only conflicting language to limited representation but many provisions that “use to be” important in Agent/Client/Customer Protection from unfair practices that like many churches today saying “these are new times – we must be more tolerant” the Realtor community has deviated to be more tolerant of things that truly harm the public – Limited Representation may be one such “model.”

    I am aware there is a place for practitioners that want to do “Limited Representation” but their current model has no established standards yet – we accept such listings in our “PRIVATE ORGANIZATION’S” program. While many agreements spell out in writing the agents do not perform any of the negotiation, presentation (costs, analysis, recommendation, etc.) or review of offers but state the Seller will deal directly with the Selling Agent – first there is an immediate adversarial positioning between Seller and Salesperson, if not, undisclosed dual agency may be taking place and as a Broker we receive calls like “your company is trying to strong arm, trick me or demanding too much of me” when our agents are only doing what they must in representing our clients.

    Try as we might to explain to these Limited Rep clients/customers that they need to review the contract with their representative (to which they state “that is not how it works”) or an attorney before deciding – many just sign, reject or cancel before closings “not knowing contract details” and typically lose or cause others to lose transactions, finances, time and energy pursuing conclusions (successful property sales.)

    There are a few Limited Rep companies and agents that are concerned and do review and assist their Limited Rep Clients – these I have no problem with and actually applaud but the majority I have dealt with are lawsuits waiting to happen and nothing more the FSBO listers in our MLS Systems.

  18. Dorel, you’re definitely not alone in your thinking. I know many MLSs made similar arguments against the FTC over the last few years. Here’s a Google search showing some the activity the last few years.