MRIS licenses real estate listings to RPR

Deal with nation's largest MLS in the works for more than a year

Realtors Property Resource LLC has signed an agreement with the nation’s largest multiple listing service — Rockville, Md.-based Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. — plugging a gap in the national property database’s listings coverage on the Eastern seaboard.

MRIS’ coverage area encompasses four dozen counties in Maryland and Virginia, and includes Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and surrounding communities. Last year, the MLS handled 219,000 listings and 108,000 sales, and its 40,000 subscribers currently represent more than 70,000 listings, including 52,000 residential properties.

A National Association of Realtors subsidiary, RPR is partnering with Lender Processing Services, MLSs, and other data providers to provide tax assessment and public property records; records on mortgages, liens and foreclosures; school boundary data; flood maps; aerial and geocoded imagery; and demographic information to Realtors and partner MLSs.

In markets where RPR has partnerships with MLSs, it can aggregate that data with active and historical listings data to generate automated property valuations using a "Realtor valuation model" (RVM) that the company claims will be more accurate than automated valuation models (AVMs) that rely primarily on public property records.

The company is counting on generating revenue by selling valuation data and other analytics products to lenders, investors and government agencies who want to keep track of trends in local housing markets. RPR has estimated that its analytics products, based in part on sold listing data, could generate $60 million to $80 million in annual revenue.

Signing up MRIS is a coup for RPR not only because of the MLSs’ size, but because its top executive had questioned the benefit of licensing listings to the company.

After RPR launched in November 2009, MRIS President and CEO David Charron lauded the concept of a property-centric database as "an extraordinarily good idea."

But Charron had reservations about the licensing agreement offered by RPR, which does not provide MLSs with a share of revenue the company expects to generate from analytic reports. NAR must first recover roughly $21 million in RPR startup costs before it will discuss a revenue split, company officials have said.

Last year, Charron told Inman News that he welcomed rival initiatives from CoreLogic and Realtor.com operator Move Inc. to license listing data from MLSs, saying the competition "makes what was once a one-horse race a two- or three-horse race."

CoreLogic is offering MLSs who join its Partner InfoNet initiative up to 40 percent of the revenue it generates from its analytics reports. The company today announced licensing agreements with eight additional MLSs with more than 14,200 subscribers, bringing the total number of real estate professionals providing listings to the program to more than 156,000.

Today, Charron said that while MRIS has agreed to provide listings to RPR without a revenue share, the MLS may still decide to license listings to CoreLogic (RPR’s standard licensing agreement does not require MLSs and Realtor associations to provide listings on an exclusive basis. CoreLogic does not require exclusive agreements, but pays more generous revenue splits to MLSs that provide listings only to Partner InfoNet).

"We’re looking at this entirely as a member service," Charron said of the licensing agreement with RPR. When RPR was first announced, "There was less information about what they really (offered), and I think over the course of a number of installations, and months of studying this, we’ve grown more comfortable with their use of the information for their RVMs."

Charron said that while the agreement doesn’t spell out when RPR will go live for MRIS members, "I would be real surprised if it’s not up by late summer." The agreement will give MRIS member brokers the ability to opt out of RPR, he said.

"In both of these instances, we didn’t have to be at the head of the pack," Charron said. "We are doing the same level of due diligence with CoreLogic."

In a statement, RPR President Mary Frame said RPR has "worked methodically for more than a year with the leadership of MRIS to demonstrate the member benefit and help them conduct their essential due diligence."

Frame said RPR is "pleased to welcome such a significant number of members to the RPR system," particularly at a time when RPR has so much momentum.

RPR, which earlier this month announced a licensing agreement with Pomona, Calif.-based California Regional MLS, says it now has agreements in place with 244 MLSs and Realtor associations representing more than 422,000 Realtors, or more than 40 percent of NAR membership.

The addition of MRIS will give RPR listings coverage in six of the markets tracked by the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller 20-city composite: Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. RPR is live in all of those markets except Washington, D.C.

RPR still has little or no coverage in the remaining 14 markets in the Case-Shiller 20-city composite: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa, Fla.

In Charlotte, N.C., RPR has signed up the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors, which serves 632 members, but not with a residential MLS in the Charlotte market.

In the New York City metro area, the 400-member Bronx Manhattan Association of Realtors has signed up for RPR but no launch date has been set.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose-based MLS Listings Inc. is live on RPR, and the Pleasanton-based Bay East Association of Realtors and the Contra Costa Association of Realtors in Walnut Creek have signed licensing agreements but have no scheduled launch date.


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