War of the rankings: T3 Sixty hits Real Trends with cease-and-desist

The creator and publisher of the Swanepoel Mega 1000 has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the president of the Real Trends 500 in the latest chapter of their ongoing feud

It’s been nearly a month since two real estate consulting and data firms — Real Trends and T3 Sixty — each released their own rankings of the top brokerages in the U.S. But the battle between them is showing no signs of letting up.

Steve Murray, president and editor of Real Trends | Credit: Real Trends

Several days ago, T3 Sixty, creator of the Swanepoel Mega 1000 ranking of top U.S. real estate firms, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Steve Murray,  president and editor of Real Trends (the firm that produces the Real Trends 500 rankings), alleging that Murray has “misrepresented” T3 Sixty’s work, made “incorrect” claims about its list, that he needs to stop doing so immediately, and publicly apologize.

T3 Sixty has furthermore sent a newsletter e-mail to customers, clients, and other contacts announcing the sending of the cease-and-desist and explaining its rationale.

The cease-and-desist came after Murray published a public blog post on the Real Trends website on April 8, criticizing “another firm” over its rankings. Though Murray’s newsletter didn’t identify the other firm by name, T3 Sixty’s cease-and-desist letter argues that Murray’s criticisms were clearly aimed at it. Among other things, Murray accuses the other firm’s ranking list of being “wildly wrong,” of “missing many firms that belong on the list,” and of using “made up data.”

Now T3 Sixty is hitting back with its cease-and-desist, dated April 17th, a copy of which it provided to Inman, which states to Murray: “Your response to competition from T3 Sixty was to attack T3 Sixty’s ethics and methodology, in an effort to bolster the credibility of your own rankings and permanently tarnish T3 Sixty’s credibility and reputation.”

Stefan Swanepoel, chairman and CEO of T3 Sixty | Credit: T3 Sixty

“Your representation that T3 Sixty ‘made up’ numbers is alarming because it is verifiably incorrect.” The cease-and-desist further states that Murray “intentionally misrepresented” information about T3 Sixty, and repeated the info to the media in an effort to “increase the harm to T3 Sixty.”

T3 Sixty’s cease-and-desist letter also cited an Inman article as evidence of Murray’s alleged intent to link T3 Sixty to Real Trends’ site outage that occurred on March 27 — an outage Murray said resulted from a denial-of-service hacking attack. However, the Inman piece contained a typo that was corrected and updated to clarify Murray specifically said no other rankings companies were linked to the site outage.

The cease-and-desist letter further expresses doubt that there was a hack at all, stating it “seems that the majority of your website was not affected, which indicates that this may have been a problem specific to your software or some other internal issue.”

Reached via email, Murray declined to comment to Inman on the cease-and-desist letter. Stefan Swanepoel, chairman and CEO of T3 Sixty, told Inman that his company began seeking legal counsel three weeks ago. He said that Murray “keeps making statements” that disparage T3 Sixty, and that involving lawyers was apparently the only way to “request that he zip it.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II