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So… About that MLS 5.0 Onion…

August 19, 2008

Whatever do you suppose this is?

Zillow is a living, growing database of all homes — not just homes for sale (we currently have data on more than 80 million homes). More than 1.3 million owners have claimed their homes on Zillow and many have updated their home facts.

Kudos to Zillow for opening up their API’s.  One can quibble with Zillow (for example, their neighborhood data, which appears to be… let’s say odd…) but the decision as a whole is brilliant.

Just add Offers of Compensation and what do you get?


4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2008 10:45 am

    Thank you for the kudos.

    I’m curious what you think is odd about our neighborhood data. I know Onboard has their own neighborhood dataset, but if you have specific feedback, we’re all ears.

  2. August 19, 2008 12:52 pm

    Hey Drew –

    I’m not the data guy, so take this with a grain of salt (or ten), but I did go ask our data dudes what they found odd about Zillow boundaries.

    For one thing, your boundaries are rather too large:

    In several cases, it seems to be the case that the OnBoard neighborhoods overlap the Zillow ones because they are smaller sub-neighborhoods within a particular area.

    * The Rockaways (Zillow) is repeatedly matched with overlapping OnBoard neighborhoods Somerville, Seaside, Far Rockaway, Edgemere, Arverne, and Belle Harbor.
    * Douglastown-Little Neck (Zillow) is matched with OnBoard neighborhoods Glen Oaks, Douglaston, Bellerose, and Floral Park.

    For another, your areas/shapes are different than ours:

    The area for OB’s Queens Village is very different from that displayed for Zillow’s Queens Village. The OB and Zillow versions do overlap, but are almost perpendicular to each other in their full areas. Part of what OB calls Queens Village is in Zillow’s Douglastown-Little Neck, and it extends into areas for which Zillow’s maps provide no information.

    I think for a more detailed explanation, I can put you in touch with one of our data wrangler guys. Given the different methodologies in how you guys do neighborhoods and how OB does it, I think it’s almost inevitable that there be differences.

    Hmm… maybe I’ll ask one of those guys to do a post on the OB blog on the topic. That might be interesting.


  3. August 20, 2008 8:03 am

    Rob- There’s been a lot of talk about “divorcing the commission” in the real estate transaction. Basically, if buyers want an agent to represent them, they would pay for it themselves, instead of our current system where the seller pays the buyer’s agent. If this happens, wouldn’t the whole MLS 5.0 thing be even more plausible? It would eliminate the need for offers of compensation.

    Couldn’t you see Google buying Zillow at some point and actually cranking out the 5.0 idea, especially if the commissions were ever divorced? How would that fit into your “Imagining the Future” series and the Firm concept, and how would a new small brokerage prepare themselves for such a change.? (eagerly awaiting the conclusion to that series).

  4. August 20, 2008 10:32 pm

    Hi John –

    If commissions ever do get divorced effectively, then yes, I think you’re right. I don’t know that would really ever happen… but strangers things have….

    I’m not sure that I see Google buying one of the existing verticals; they haven’t done so with any other vertical yet. I suspect that they know that the existence of vertical engines only help Google itself. But since Google engineers can work on whatever the hell they want to work on part of their time… I think it’s just a matter of finding a few Google engineers, plying them with liquor and bad women, and having them crank out a MLS 5.0 in their spare time. 🙂

    I’m working on the Future series; I’m stuck at a tough place right now. Just need to figure out the implications….


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