OpinionIndustry News

RPR madness! NAR unleashes national property database with Cyberhomes

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Editor’s note: This blog item, originally posted Nov. 7, is reposted with permission from Brian Boero at 1000Watt Consulting. Click here to view the original.

Author’s note: What follows is my somewhat stream-of-consciousness take on Saturday’s events. This post is a beast. Interested in your thoughts. And please point out where you think I’ve missed the mark. More will follow.

The NAR has taken over certain technology assets of Cyberhomes from LPS (formerly known as FNRES) in order to bring its RPR (Realtors Property Resource) project, as well as its consumer-facing play, HouseLogic, to market. To do this, they have created Realtors Property Resource LLC — a wholly owned subsidiary of the NAR.

Certain LPS executives, including Cyberhomes GM Marty Frame, will be making the transition over to NAR/RPR (see Inman News article). Frame will serve as the president of the new entity. Dale Ross, who was co-founder of MRIS, the nation’s largest MLS, will be CEO. LPS will also provide call center support and other services as part of the deal.

The RPR database will contain parcel information on nearly 150 million properties through a data license from LPS, which (along with First American) is one of the two major sources of public property data.

This is interesting news, but let’s back up a minute for those of you who have more well-rounded lives than I (my fellow online RE junkies can skip down to my take on what this deal means).

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The RPR is the national property database initiative that the NAR has been quietly working on for some time. It has gone by a number of names over the past couple years, including "Gateway," "The Real Estate Channel," and the "Library/Archive." It will aggregate tons of property data, including public records, in one place. This will be a Realtor-only database. The idea is to keep agents and brokers competitive amidst widespread data diffusion and other challenges.

HouseLogic.com is a NAR-owned public destination site that will be unveiled next week at the NAR EXPO. The site is part of the NAR’s long-term strategy to engage consumers on behalf of its members.

RIN is the "Realtors Information Network," a for-profit arm of the NAR from which the RPR sprung. It was conceived for the purpose of creating an ill-fated online real estate service nearly 15 years ago. It was proprietary, something like a Prodigy or early AOL-type service. It blew up, costing the NAR millions. It was from that failure that the present-day Realtor.com was born, in 1996.

The contract for developing the RPR was originally given to Move Inc. back in late 2008. That obviously did not go so well.

LPS is a new company created last summer at the tail end of a complicated corporate genealogy driven by Bill Foley, the visionary chairman of Fidelity National Financial. LPS was formerly known as FNRES and in June 2009 announced a subsidiary, LPS Real Estate Group, to handle its real estate products: Paragon (MLS software), rDesk (agent and broker technology) and CyberHomes.

Cyberhomes.com is a domain with a storied history in online real estate. It was launched by Moore Data, an MLS provider, back in the mid-1990s and competed with Homeseekers.com, Microsoft HomeAdvisor and Homes.com. Moore sold the site (among other things) to VistaInfo in 1999, which in turn merged with Fidelity National Financial to create Fidelity National Information solutions (FNIS) in 2001. The cyberhomes.com domain ended up with Microsoft, which eventually shut down HomeAdvisor and relegated real estate to MSN Real Estate. FNRES, predecessor to LPS and spawn of FNF, took it from there and launched the new Cyberhomes in November of 2007.

And that’s just the quick and dirty. I’ve left out enough details to fill a McMansion. I’m not kidding. …CONTINUED