Real estate data licensing roadblocks entice illegal scraping

Real Estate Digital's Jay Gaskill says MLS data 'hygiene' is catching on

NEW YORK — The real estate industry can throw up so many roadblocks to access its data that it can be enticing for those who want it to acquire it illegally.

That’s according to panelists at today’s Real Estate Connect New York City in a session called “Who Owns What? The Protection of Intellectual Property in Today’s Market.”

New York City image via Shutterstock.
New York City image via Shutterstock.

Some companies that want real estate data don’t have any other recourse except to go through an illegal provider because getting approval from a multiple listing service and its member brokers costs a burdensome amount of time and money, said Jay Gaskill, president of real estate technology firm Real Estate Digital.

“It hurts the industry,” he said.

For instance, some lenders use illicitly sourced data in their back-end systems to help them make decisions on important industrywide issues such as short sales, said Ann Hale Bailey, president of real estate consulting firm Pranix Inc.

“We have to find a way to license the data legally,” she said.

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Greg Robertson, co-founder of real estate tech vendor W&R Studios, noted that rules many MLSs have in place serve to complicate things that could be made easier.

He noted, for example, that some MLSs will send separate feeds for every broker who buys his product, despite each feed having virtually the same data.

Gaskill noted at least one bright spot, however: Some MLSs and brokers are beginning to practice good data “hygiene,” making their data more available, but with the caveat that they “darn well better know where it is.”

Gaskill, who is a founding board member of real estate intellectual property protection group REDPLAN Inc., said licensing data under those best practices would be better than having a huge legal defense fund.

He talks more about data hygiene and how it’s different from the passive, “opt-out” practices of the past, below:


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