Technology, Industry

Friday Flash: "IDX Light", Homes.com, and the suede covered Lite-Brite

Author
Brian Boero
No.
588
Please excuse the mess. This page is currently under construction.

The NAR Midyear is upon us. It’s fixin’ to be a doozy.

For the record, I do not think the “franchise IDX rule” will be reversed (nor, in my opinion, should it); and the IDX Workgroup’s proposed rule for IDX display beyond websites will likely stand too.

But the debates will be interesting.

The sanest thing I have read in the pre-midyear buzz-making is Mike Wurzer’s post about IDX and innovation. It was a tangent off his main point that gave me the most food for thought:

…terms of use could be different for different parts of the IDX data, such as a simple ad containing a few data fields versus the entire listing.  Clearly, the need to protect the entire data feed is different than the need to protect the basic advertisement implicit in each IDX listing.

The debate about whether listings are ads or proprietary content (and therefore whether or not their use on the web should be looked at primarily as content licensing or distribution) is an old one. And it’s not going to end. But the notion that an “IDX Light” could be conceived with somewhat looser terms of use than full IDX might be a path forward. Let the “implicit advertising” Mike references be just that.

I stare at real estate websites for several hours each day. And I can report to you that real estate agent photography is still awful. Flea market-grade merchandizing, for the most part.

But the tools for taking, composing and editing photos just keep coming.

This week, Aviary released a photo API that allows developers to integrate simple online editing, effects and enhancements with their products. It’s very slick.

MLS software vendors would do well to consider this. It won’t disperse the flea market, but it might shrink it just a bit.

I have received six press releases from Homes.com in the past three weeks.

The headline from the latest read:

Homes.com Supports Syndication Bill of Rights”

This is pandering, of course, but I give them credit for taking jabs at the soft underbelly of their better-funded competition. In this case, they are positioning off the perception that Trulia and Zillow are taking inappropriate liberties with listings by expressing support for a syndication policy advocated by Clareity Consulting. Smart play.

I’ve received some weird stuff from the recently, too. Like numbers they claimed showed them beating Zillow and Trulia in traffic referred out and on-site engagement. I’m not sold on that, but it’s good to see them making some noise even as Dominion’s Dominion decays.

A startup called TaskRabbit launched this week that allows you to hire background-checked “experts” to perform tasks like walking your dog or picking up your take-out order at a restaurant.

It made me wonder if one day we’ll see real estate services in this low-value mix.

Before you call me nuts, think about the fate of an industry that tells the marketplace it offers “trusted advisors” or “expert negotiators” but continues to provoke its own decline by acting in an entirely different manner.

I know, old rant. But ensuring my preposterous musing stays just that will require pros with chops and brands with balls to step up and shape an industry less tolerant of incompetence in its midst.

Nielsen released some interesting data about the relationship between tablet and PC usage and sales. Bottom line: Make sure your website works well on a tablet. Now.

Every couple weeks Google posts a “Google Apps” highlights post on its official blog. At the end they name a sampling of customers that have “Gone Google.” Increasingly – including this past week – that list includes a real estate brokerage.

We continue to encounter brokerages that shovel money desperately needed to update technology and marketing systems into things like network servers, routers, Exchange licenses and the staff needed to administer them.

Google Apps isn’t free, but it almost always pencils out better. Interested in your take on the pros/cons.

My “Fun to look at” item this week is a creation of the Google Data Arts Team that visualizes searches by language. It’s like a globular, suede covered Lite-Brite and is quite soothing.

Enjoy!