SAN ANTONIO -- These days, searching for a house is not just about the house. It's all about the data: house data, school data, crime data, neighbor data, neighborhood data, local amenities data, ratings and reviews data.
Many websites and mobile apps are serving up real estate-related data in creative ways, slicing and dicing statistics into meaningful charts and visuals, such as interactive maps.
But despite this wealth of digital real estate information, the problem of fragmentation looms large for the industry and consumers -- not every site has all the data, and not all data is created equal.
At the NAREE conference in June, a panel of real estate industry veterans, during a session titled, "The Future of Online Real Estate Information: What happens when every property and everything for sale in America is on competing mega databases?" shared their insights about data ownership, control and syndication.
While consumers have more data at their fingertips, there is still an important role for real estate professionals to play in interpreting and translating that data for their clients, said panelists.
Chip McAvoy, vice president of technology solutions at CoreLogic/MarketLinx, a company that provides software and services for industry professionals, said because there are so many data sources for consumers these days, there is "information overload," and real estate professionals can help consumers sort out the most relevant information.
John Heithaus, chief marketing officer for MRIS, a mid-Atlantic regional multiple listing service, detailed several initiatives that the MLS is engaged in to become a leading real estate resource for consumers.
The MLS has a public property-search website that will be enhanced with lifestyle search features and components that will serve as an eHarmony for the real estate space by finding properties that are the best fit for consumers.
A challenge for the industry and consumers is in identifying the most complete and quality sources for property information, some of the most popular third-party property portals may not be updated as frequently or have the volume of property information that can be found on some industry-operated portals.
Dale Ross,CEO for the Realtors Property Resource, a data resource created in 2009 by the National Association of Realtors, discussed RPR's aim to amass a vast pool of property information by working with MLSs that share their data in order to gain access to the collective data. RPR now has about 280 MLS participants that together represent about 500,000 Realtors, roughly half of NAR's total membership.
CoreLogic has a competing effort, called Partner InfoNet, to aggregate MLS data and share revenue related to this data. Midwest Real Estate Data, a large regional MLS in Illinois, signed on this month as one of its latest participants in the CoreLogic effort, while MRIS in March announced that it agreed to license its data to RPR.
Data syndication -- the industry's dissemination of real estate data to a variety of online sites -- has been a particularly hot topic for the industry, and there has been a lot of acquisitions activity related to real estate data and syndication companies in the past couple of years:
NAREE Member Glenn Roberts is the managing editor of Inman News.