It is hard to overstate how important—and valuable—real estate data has become. Wall Street wants it. Tech companies and start-ups rely on it to build their products. Academics, nonprofits and government agencies need it to drive analyses that drive policy. More than ever before, this information is the lifeblood that powers the growth and strength of the real estate industry.
Focused on protecting both the value and integrity of this data, Bright MLS and California Regional MLS (CRMLS), the nation’s two largest Multiple Listing Services, announced today the launch of REdistribute, LLC, a joint venture that aims to change how MLS data is collected as well as put it back in the hands of the brokers who collect it.
“The exchange of real estate data is currently a one-way street,” said Art Carter, CEO of CRMLS, in a statement. “Third parties are aggregating and providing MLS data to government entities and a host of other for-profit companies. What’s missing are the data rights, data management and fair market compensation provided back to the owners of the data—the brokers.”
REdistribute will aggregate and distribute data on behalf of participating MLS organizations and brokerages, providing unbiased, up-to-date MLS data directly from the source to institutions involved with the housing industry, and puts brokers back in control of their data rights and data usage. Additionally, the revenue generated by REdistribute will be shared back with the brokers and MLS organizations who participate, ensuring that participants are compensated fairly—and at true market value—for the data they provide.
“Today, we are rewriting the rules of engagement,” said Brian Donnellan, president and CEO of Bright MLS, in a statement. “Now is the time for professional MLS organizations to invest in solutions that create additional value for brokers, while also delivering the most comprehensive, accurate and freshest data to critical participants in the housing industry. Mortgage lenders, government sponsored entities and others creating property valuations and insights and their constituents will benefit greatly from REdistribute.”
Both Carter and Donnellan will take part in discussions concerning the rapidly evolving direction of the MLS environment at RISMedia’s CEO & Leadership Exchange taking place this September in Washington, D.C. “Bright MLS and CRMLS are helping transform and innovate our industry for the better,” said RISMedia Founder & CEO John Featherston. “At our event, hundreds of leaders will be able to hear first-hand how their vision is designed to enhance brokerage business.”
REdistribute expects to begin beta testing in August, and to deliver content to clients in 2023. The company says they are inviting every broker and every MLS to participate, with Beaches MLS in Florida, already signing a letter of intent to join for the launch.
“Beaches MLS is excited to be the first ownership partner with Bright MLS and CRMLS on REdistribute to bring even more value to our brokers,” stated Dionna Hall, CEO of Beaches MLS in a statement.
Carter, speaking to RISMedia, says that others are already working to aggregate data and monetize it on a “tremendous gray market” that often bypasses the real estate practitioners that gather it. This process will happen no matter what, and it is both prudent and urgent for brokers, MLSs and the broader real estate community to take charge of their data, he argues.
“This is happening, it’s happening whether you know it or not, and it’s time that the brokerage community starts getting some of the value out of this data,” he says.
The market for real estate data is “tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars deep,” Carter estimates. Other companies are already digging into this market, almost all relying on some amount of MLS information, and Carter adds that legal action to take control of that data is potentially part of the gameplan.
“Timing is everything,” Donnellan tells RISMedia. “The time is really good for this to happen…this isn’t about CRMLS or Bright, this is about the industry actually acting on this right now.”
Centralizing, standardizing and streamlining all this real estate data will be one of the central aims of REdistribute, according to Carter and Donnellan. Carter points out that government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie and Freddie, as well as the insurance industry rely on MLS data, and REdistribute can both expand and ensure the accuracy of what they are using.
“The goal, from an innovation standpoint, is to give them the most crystal-clear look at the marketplace that we can possibly give them, across as many marketplaces in the United States as we can aggregate,” he says.
Standardizing how MLS data is presented is also a big part of the new company, looking to create a “single data feed” leveraging other initiatives—including work done by the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO).
Donnellan says being able to deliver data that is accurate and timely will spark innovation, growing from a somewhat fractured industry that can sometimes hamper the creation of new efficiencies or insights into real estate.
“Data being so spread apart at different timings and things like that, it’s hard to understand what it actually is you have,” he explains. “Just centralizing it, getting it to a spot where it can get there as quickly as possible—I’m sure both REdistribute as well as GSEs will be looking at that data to see what insight can be gained from that.”
Both Donnellan and Carter repeatedly emphasized that brokers directly benefiting from and directly controlling their data is the highest priority for REdistribute, allowing real estate practitioners who are on the ground, or have significant expertise and understanding of the industry, to both guide and benefit from the treasure trove of data.
“MLSs need to have that same sense of collaboration that our brokerage communities have in our micro markets. MLSs need to be doing this on behalf of the brokerage community,” Carter says.
“Timing is everything and the timing is really good for something like this to happen,” Donnellan adds. “This is about the industry actually acting on something right now.”
Bright and CRMLS began working collaboratively late last year on solutions that improve services for the brokerage community, including recent work on a showing services hub that supports more choice for brokers.
Carter and Donnellan wrote an open letter to real estate industry explaining the REdistribute initiative in further detail. You can read the full letter here.
Carter and Donnellan will both be participating in RISMedia’s CEO & Leadership Exchange this fall, discussing MLS issues.