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The nation’s largest multiple listing service is teaming up with an artificial intelligence company the MLS partially owns to improve how it handles listing photos and compliance with rules and to eventually provide a potential revenue pipeline.
In mid-2022, California Regional MLS, through its venture capital fund Venture MLS, invested $1 million in Styldod, a company headquartered in the United Kingdom that offers automatic virtual staging of homes, image editing and automated property descriptions.
Now, CRMLS, which has more than 110,000 subscribers, will use Styldod’s photo analysis software for rule compliance, automatically detecting image elements, such as logos, watermarks, branding, contact information, QR codes, not-safe-for-work (NSFW) content and human faces, according to an announcement.
If the software detects an issue, it will notify the relevant agents and brokers and allow them to instantly fix the issue.
“Styldod’s technology has proven to be amazing at sophisticated detection,” said CEO of CRMLS Art Carter in a statement.
“Styldod has served CRMLS extremely well as a staging product, so we’re confident that expanding our relationship to include business intelligence will be fruitful. We’re looking forward to how this new integration will empower agents and brokers with useful, harvested image data and help them avoid compliance issues.”
Such data includes information related to compliance, property condition and room dimensions, Carter told Inman via email. The companies said the new integration between CRMLS and Styldod would offer intelligence and real-time analytics by aggregating readily available data.
“Other AI companies have harvested data for compliance, tagging, property condition, room dimensions, floorplans, and AVMs, etc., but they all stopped there, building their business models on making profits from that data,” Carter said. “What is uncharted is what comes next — a complete rethinking of [how] to use AI for property marketing.”
CRMLS saw “tremendous value” in features, such as image classification, object detection and image attribute detection that can analyze design styles and the aesthetic appeal of photos, Styldod CEO Akhilesh Majumdar told Inman via email.
Majumdar pointed to a question posed by real estate veteran Alex Lange at the National Association of Realtors’ iOi Pitch Battle in 2021 to sum up where the partnership between CRMLS and Styldod was going.
“Why not partner with an MLS to provide the derivative outputs of AI models to paying customers across industries, such as Home Improvement Companies, Renovation Companies, Insurance Companies, Real Estate Agents and Brokers?” Majumdar said.
These models “can be provided at cost to MLSs and agents, and value can instead be created from the derivative products and ready distribution access offered by MLSs. A true win-win! This is precisely the philosophy guiding CRMLS and Styldod’s collaboration,” Majumdar added.
Majumdar noted Styldod has the ability to add unique identifiers, called SKUs, for furniture in its products, which “will have tremendous impact” by allowing new homebuyers to make purchases directly from images.
“Naturally, home improvement companies are eager to participate in this future,” he said. “Eventually, a portion of this commerce will find its way back to the MLS and the agents who collected all the data and imagery.”
While Majumdar predicts turning this into reality will be a “long process,” it will start with photo and real estate standards compliance and the auto-filling of listings at no cost to agents.
Eventually, deeper integrations between CRMLS and Styldod will offer CRMLS users and their clients access to AI products “that can dramatically reduce the cost and time of delivery for things like photo enhancement, design visualization, automated property descriptions, and other marketing automation solutions,” the companies said.
Sometime this year, Styldod will launch its “AI Marketing Hub,” which will use images, neighborhood data and historical MLS data to create property descriptions and marketing materials for agents, they added.
“Along the path to our dream of democratizing design, we’ve had to develop some industry-leading image analysis algorithms,” Majumdar said in a statement.
“They help us do some amazing things on the design automation side of the equation, and CRMLS was able to see that they also offer world-class solutions that can fuel many parts of the existing MLS data ecosystem.”
Styldod’s biggest benefit is related to cost, according to Carter.
“Styldod does not intend to make money on data extraction, as most of the existing players do, so the cost to the MLS for mining data is dramatically reduced,” he said.
“Since existing AI businesses were built on a model of gaining profits [that] come from extraction, they have not been implemented at scale. For example, the ability to populate the vast majority of RESO [Real Estate Standards Organization] data fields exists and has existed, but the cost to do so was seen as simply too high for many MLS[s].”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional details from Styldod on potential revenue back to agents and the MLS.