RealPatrol.com, a real estate search site, claims to be "the largest U.S. archive of real estate property listings," with information on about 3.9 million properties. The site, which launched a year ago, uses automated data-capture programs, known as "spiders," to collect real estate photos and information from a range of Web sites, according to RealPatrol CEO Benjamin Ovadia. Such data-collection practices, sometimes referred to as data "scraping," are controversial in the industry and can run afoul of industry data-sharing rules and even copyright laws. Ovadia said the company, based in Cherry Hill, N.J., hasn't run into trouble yet with its data-collection practices, and that the site features information on "pretty much anything we can get easily -- whatever we can find on plain sight on the Web. Most information is pretty easily accessible on the Web." Brokers who viewed the technology in demonstrations at real estate conferences ...
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