Shortly after its highly publicized launch last week, Terabitz, a new venture-backed real estate site that mashes up data sources on neighborhoods and ZIP codes throughout the U.S., has removed some data feeds from its site after being accused of illegally scraping data from real estate Web sites.
Ashfaq Munshi, co-founder and CEO of the Silicon Valley company, said Terabitz has received a handful of complaints from real estate companies saying Terabitz is using their data improperly.
Online property listings display has been a hotbed issue in real estate for many years. Most brokers prefer to have full control over where their listings show up on the Internet, and a number of new companies have approached listings sites by partnering with brokers for permission to display data.
Terabitz has done a number of things to address the issue, Munshi said, including fixing incorrect attributions, and in some cases removing the data feeds in question. He also said the company is interested in paying for licenses for data.
Munshi said a number of real estate brokers are seeking partnerships to display their data on the site’s customizable real estate dashboards. He claims that about 100,000 listings have been offered from various sources.
Terabitz, which has raised $10 million in funding from Tudor Capital, has created a cross between a real estate portal, search engine and bookmarking site. Users can customize information on specific ZIP codes for display on their dashboards, which function like a “home page” during their real estate search.
“The reality is we’re a search engine,” Munshi said. The company presents the top four or five listings for a given area and sends site users onto the listings source when they click on a listing for more information.
“We actually generate more traffic for (listings) by giving them visibility on our site,” he said.
Terabitz pulls in content such as mortgage calculators, for-sale listings, recently sold property data, market sales and pricing trends, crime statistics and other neighborhood information such as nearest schools, restaurants, banks, post offices and coffee shops. Users are then pushed out to the source of the data when they click on listings, for instance.
Harley Rouda Jr., CEO and managing partner of real estate brokerage company Real Living Inc., said representatives at his company noticed their listings showing up on Terabitz with Google Base and Trulia being credited as the sources.
“We were concerned that our data was being shared contrary to the agreements we have with each of these respected companies,” Rouda said.
Real Living was among the first group of real estate brokers to form partnerships with Google Base and Trulia, enabling the Web sites to display their listings in relevant real estate searches.
Rouda said both Google and Trulia are taking action to eliminate the improper use of listings.
Kelly Roark, vice president of industry development at Trulia, said that within hours of Terabitz launching, Trulia employees noticed that data was being taken from their site. Trulia demanded the data be taken down, she said, and Terabitz had removed everything as of Monday.
“Anytime we find anything like this we’ll respond the minute we discover it,” she said.
Google officials also said they are looking into the source of the problem and expect to have it resolved soon.