The real estate industry is unusual in that, more often than not, competitors cooperate to get things done. This is apparently true even for real estate tech companies in the midst of a data management arms race. Zillow Group subsidiary Bridge Interactive and Black Knight Financial Services have formed an alliance to integrate Bridge’s data management tools into Black Knight’s Paragon MLS system

  • Partnership between competitors sets out to tackle data management pain points for agents and brokers.

The real estate industry is unusual in that, more often than not, competitors cooperate to get things done.

This is apparently true even for real estate tech companies in the midst of a data management arms race.

Zillow Group subsidiary Bridge Interactive (Bridge) and Black Knight Financial Services have formed an alliance to integrate Bridge’s data management tools into Black Knight’s Paragon MLS system, Zillow Group announced Wednesday.

Real estate professionals’ need to enter data into different systems has become increasingly burdensome as opportunities to harness electronic listing and other real-estate related data multiply. As such, brokerages and MLSs are forced to spend more time and money developing technology resources to manage information.

Both Bridge and Paragon address this problem, as do several other tech products in this realm, including UpstreamRE’s Upstream, CoreLogic’s Trestle, Instanet Solutions’ Instanet Forms, and Realtors Property Resource’s Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP).

The Bridge-Paragon agreement could speed up MLS adoption of Bridge’s tools, giving the company an edge over its rivals. More than 35 MLSs had partnered with Bridge as of April, Zillow Group has previously said.

“We expect this relationship to result in wider and faster adoption of Bridge tools across Black Knight’s Paragon user base,” Zillow Group told Inman in an emailed statement.

When asked about teaming up with a competitor, the company said, “Zillow Group, Bridge, and Black Knight each share a similar goal in that we want to solve the complex issue of listing management for the industry. We are happy to partner with any organization that shares that goal.”

Other than the companies themselves, those standing to benefit from the deal are Black Knight’s 210 MLS customers and their more than 300,000 agent, broker and appraiser subscribers.

What the deal means for subscribers

Now, if their MLSs choose to upgrade, Paragon users will have access to three data management tools from Bridge:

  • Compose, a web application that allows brokers and agents to add and edit listings in a variety of systems, including multiple MLSs and brokerage back-office systems.
  • Contact, a server that allows MLS administrators to review real-time queries for listing content, number of listings accessed, and amounts of data requested. The server “provides complete control over who can access listing data and where the data can be used, as well as in-depth data usage reporting,” Zillow Group has said.
  • Cheque, a tool that enables MLSs to manage syndication of listings and billing for MLS data recipients.

Pricing for the tools “will ultimately be determined by Zillow Group,” though Paragon clients would pay Black Knight for use of the upgrade, Black Knight told Inman via email. “The specifics of pricing, however, depend on particular client engagements, and Black Knight has a long-standing policy of not publicly discussing contractual details,” the company said. According to Zillow Group, pricing will vary by market.

Black Knight has already used Bridge’s Contact server as part of its Property Information Central database, which aggregates and standardizes listings from Black Knight MLS users and provides those MLSs with RESO-compliant data sets.

Bridge’s tools are compliant with data standards from the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), as is the Paragon system.

Errol Samuelson

“We are pleased to formalize our relationship with Black Knight, a company we have worked with over many years to improve industry standards and support RESO,” said Errol Samuelson, Zillow Group chief industry development officer, in a statement.

“Combining Bridge Interactive’s listings management suite with Paragon’s enterprise platform will help multiple listing services streamline their operations, drive efficiencies in brokerages, and provide brokers with even greater control over where and how their listing content is used.”

Comparing tools: Paragon for Brokers and Upstream

Bridge’s listing input tool, Compose, is similar to a tool Black Knight offers: Paragon for Brokers. P4B is an optional tool within Paragon that allows brokers to enter listing and other data once and have it populate not only the MLS, but every system the broker uses — including back-office systems and third-party applications — according to the broker’s will.

Broker-backed platform Upstream also does this, though unlike Paragon for Brokers and Compose, Upstream is in beta testing and has not officially launched.

Chip McAvoy

“We have worked closely with Bridge for many of our joint customers already, and this new agreement will accelerate those efforts,” said Chip McAvoy, vice president and real estate market leader for Black Knight, in a statement.

“We have aggressively focused on providing solutions that help brokers and agents better manage their data, including our Paragon for Brokers solution.

“Leveraging Bridge Interactive’s products continues that strategy, focusing on key industry pain points, such as single point of entry and broker-centric listing distribution.”

In an emailed statement to Inman, McAvoy added, “[W]ith all of the talk about new APIs and new systems like Upstream, we are making great progress providing direct listing entry using RESO’s RETS Update standard.

“We have many third parties that add and update listings directly into Paragon using RETS Update, and this activity has accelerated over the past six months.  Bridge’s Compose product is one of these, as is others like zipLogix’s zipForm.  Single or alternative point of entry of listings is working now.”

He also noted that Bridge’s Compose and P4B are not exactly the same in that “P4B provides other capabilities that allow brokers to differentiate their Paragon experience including communications, branding, etc.”

Black Knight declined to say how many brokers had signed up for P4B since its launch. “Currently, we’re not publicly reporting data on the P4B user base, but we’re seeing growth progress on pace throughout our MLS client community,” McAvoy said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments about pricing from Black Knight and Zillow Group.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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