The Broker Public Portal — a project to build the nation’s first national public-facing MLS website — has just gotten its biggest boost to date. Black Knight Financial Services, provider of the Paragon MLS system, has signed a deal with Homesnap, BPP’s intended provider. The deal will give free use of agent-only, MLS-powered app Homesnap Pro to Black Knight’s more than 200 MLS customers representing more than 250,000 agents and brokers.

  • Black Knight and Homesnap have made a deal to offer Homesnap Pro for free to all Paragon MLS customers and their agent and broker subscribers.
  • Because Homesnap and the Broker Public Portal will soon sign a definitive agreement, any MLS users of Homesnap Pro will be able to easily sign up for the BPP.
  • The deal provides agents and brokers with an MLS system that is integrated with Homesnap's mobile app. Through BPP, agents could also advertise their listings for free on a nationwide MLS-powered website controlled by brokers and MLSs.

The Broker Public Portal — a project to build the nation’s first national public-facing MLS website — has just gotten its biggest boost to date.

BPP, backed by a large group of MLSs and brokerages, intends to compete with third-party portals such as Zillow and realtor.com, which currently capture millions in advertising dollars from agents and brokers.

Homesnap Pro + Black Knight

Black Knight Financial Services, provider of the Paragon MLS system, has signed a deal with Homesnap, BPP’s intended provider. The deal will give free use of agent-only, MLS-powered app Homesnap Pro to Black Knight’s more than 200 MLS customers representing more than 250,000 agents and brokers.

That will make it easy for the MLSs to sign up for and quickly launch BPP in their markets if they choose to, giving their agents instant access to BPP listings from across the country.

Currently, more than 40 MLSs with more than 400,000 subscribers use Homesnap Pro, including some Paragon MLSs. Once a final agreement between BPP and Homesnap is signed — currently slated for early December — any MLS using Homesnap Pro will be able to easily join BPP.

As an added incentive, the deal between Black Knight and Homesnap includes a discount on BPP’s monthly subscription fee for Paragon customers. The fee is $1 per subscriber per month, but Black Knight has agreed to give a 30 percent credit back to its MLS customers who join BPP.

Victor Lund

Victor Lund

“The good news for Paragon users is that they will now have this terrific mobile application … Homesnap Pro,” WAV Group’s Victor Lund told Inman. Lund is a consultant for BPP.

“It’ll give the agents and brokers full view of the MLS, and they can send a link via text to a client; and when a client clicks it, the client will be associated with that agent or broker and they get their own mobile app.

“Should the MLS wish to participate in the Broker Public Portal, it would extend the dataset from being local to being national, but still maintain the association with the agent or broker.”

As part of the agreement, Black Knight will also become the public records provider for the Homesnap app, replacing the current provider, which the companies declined to name.

“So this is really good for the Broker [Public] Portal because we add a few hundred thousand more participants. This is good for Homesnap because as part of the agreement, they get access to Black Knight’s parcel database — so they’ll have every property in America, whether it’s actively for sale or not,” Lund said.

“That gives Homesnap the opportunity to display homes like on Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and homes.com. And it’s good for Black Knight Financial because now all of their clients have a badass mobile app.”

Once all of Black Knight’s Paragon MLS customers have adopted Homesnap Pro, Lund estimates the app will be available to some 500,000 agents and brokers.

Working together

In a press release, Black Knight and Homesnap refer to their agreement as a “strategic alliance.” This is because both companies “view this as a strategic relationship that will yield benefits for both parties.

“It is a multi-faceted deal that includes deliverables on both sides,” the companies told Inman via email.

When asked whether money was changing hands as part of the deal, they said, “There is a financial aspect, but the details are confidential that cannot be disclosed publicly.”

As part of the alliance, the companies will work together to integrate Homesnap Pro “seamlessly” with Paragon MLS, including adding “bidirectional data syncing to eliminate duplicate data entry.”

“We will work with Homesnap to integrate in ways our users want, such as being able to add photos to Paragon listings from Homesnap Pro or sending consumers Paragon notifications through the Homesnap app,” the companies said.

The integration will assist agents in acquiring new clients, closing transactions sooner and facilitating long-term agent-client relationships, they added.

“Agents can use the application that makes most sense given their needs and situation,” the companies said.

“If they are in the office reviewing listings with a client, they can use Paragon. If they are driving to an appointment and need to look up a buyer’s favorite listings, they can use Homesnap Pro. It’s all about providing agents with access no matter where they are.”

‘Freedom of choice’

Ray Ewing

Ray Ewing

In a statement, Ray Ewing, president and CEO of Paragon MLS client Sandicor Inc., said the combination of a tightly integrated Homesnap and Paragon is “very exciting.”

“[T]the freedom of choice on MLS system access is something we have wanted for some time,” he said.

Indeed, Black Knight seems to be positioning itself to meet at least some of the needs that other industry initiatives — Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP) and Upstream — are attempting to meet.

AMP is designed to be a “back-end” MLS database that will attach to a “front end” user interface of an MLS or broker’s choice.

“The Paragon-Homesnap integration furthers the goal of offering to customers the ability to choose which platform they want to use. This puts us ahead of the curve in giving agents multiple ways to access their MLS data,” the companies said.

Gregg Larson

Gregg Larson

In the press release, Gregg Larson, co-founder of Clareity Consulting, said, “The offering of an alternative mobile ‘front end’ to Paragon delivers on much of the promise of an Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP), and the combined efforts of Black Knight and Homesnap to provide tailored solutions for brokers is compatible with the promise of Upstream, a new effort driven by real estate brokerages to streamline listing and sales data and its online delivery.”

When asked in what way Black Knight and Homesnap’s efforts are compatible with the promise of broker data management platform Upstream, the companies pointed to a tool Black Knight recently released that offers a “single point of entry” for broker data, which company exec Chip McAvoy has said is “complementary” to Upstream.

“Like Upstream, Black Knight and Homesnap both aim to empower brokers with better data and tools. As an example, the recently announced Paragon for Brokers provides features such as broker-specific listing fields and business rules that allow brokers to manage critical data within the MLS,” the companies said.

No BPP-Homesnap agreement yet

A final, signed agreement between BPP and Homesnap is imminent, but until then no MLS can enter into a data licensing agreement with BPP, according to WAV Group’s Lund.

That means that although more than 50 MLSs are backing the project — many of them in densely populated areas — and MLSs such as MRED have adopted Homesnap Pro with the intent of flipping the switch on BPP, none can share their data nationally yet.

In late 2016 and early 2017, BPP will be focusing on two things: signing up MLSs and rebuilding Homesnap.com, Lund said.

“The mobile app is pretty tight,” so there’s little do there, he said.

But the desktop website wasn’t designed to link agents with clients and sync with MLSs’ client portals, he added.

Those client portals are key to BPP’s competitiveness. Lund gave this example:

“Today, we know that CoreLogic has half of the MLS market share. The other half is divided between Paragon, FBS and Rapattoni and then Navica and Stratus and a few others,” he said.

“With CoreLogic alone we know that there are 50 million consumer reports, like listing alerts, that go out of CoreLogic systems each month.

“If you multiply that times two, the total addressable audience for the Broker Public Portal by integrating with participating MLSs is a hundred million.

“Click-through rates are about 20 percent each day. So if you just take that 100 million times 20 percent you come up with an addressable market that is equal to or greater than most of the leading portals in America today.

“It’s not all going to happen out of the gate, but as MLSs join the initiative, and integrate their MLS systems into the Broker Public Portal, the traffic numbers for Homesnap will grow enormously.”

That scenario assumes that all MLSs will sign up for BPP, which Lund acknowledges will “never” happen.

“But if you talk to agents and brokers, they will tell you that this initiative climbs to the top of their list,” he said.

“That’s why the BPP has the support of franchises like Keller Williams, Re/Max, and HomeServices [of America], but also the full support of the [The Realty Alliance] firms and the LeadingRE firms.

“It’s a very, very important issue for real estate and it’s the first time that MLSs and brokerage firms have collaborated at this scale.”

There are two main reasons for the project’s popularity, according to Lund:

  1. Online advertising costs continue to escalate. “So in the absence of a broker- and MLS-controlled entity, brokers have little alternative other than to consume those increases. Homesnap delivers an alternative,” he said.
  2. The National Association of Realtors MLS policy committee made MLS consumer-facing websites a basic service of the MLS. “So the thesis that’s been developed is rather than have hundreds of MLS-consumer facing websites … to unify the MLSs around a single system. You can extend your investment a lot further on a single platform than you can try to duplicate and manage over 700 different websites. In the online world, bigger is better,” he said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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