Trulia working with MLS to identify sources of stale data
Letter to the EditorBy Inman News, Monday, July 16, 2012.
Re: "Zillow appeals to MLSs for direct listings feeds' (July 9)
About six months ago, our MLS, North Carolina Mountains MLS, entered into an agreement with Trulia. It turns out that, from the standpoint of quality, this was a very wise move indeed.
This agreement provides RETS access to some fields in our MLS database. Trulia agreed to use our data as the primary source of listing information, superseded only by contractual agreements that they had previously established with a few national franchisors. In return, we receive daily and monthly Excel files displaying two important pieces of information:
- Each MLS number where the selling price or property status is more than four days older than what we provide Trulia via RETS.
- Importantly, we are also given the source(s) of the stale data (as well as other pertinent data).
Using this information, we were able to zero in on those firms that did not update their data on a timely basis. This generally means that not only obsolete data was being sent to Trulia (and others), the sender's own site was suffering with the same problem.
In our case, the firms providing old data included a wide variety of companies including traditional real estate magazines, virtual tour companies, syndicators and real estate franchisors.
Using Trulia's information, we learned that about 3 percent of our data being provided by other sources to Trulia was obsolete. We were not happy.
We later learned from Trulia that most MLSs have a defect rate of over 10 percent. Our entire industry should not be happy about that.
In reviewing our data more carefully, we quickly discovered that four companies generated well over 65 percent of the errors, with one of them providing almost 35 percent of them.
We opened discussions with our primary data offender and convinced them to radically change their approach to data collection (at least in our market). We gave them direct RETS access too, and lo and behold their defect rate is approaching zero and our overall defect rate has dropped to about 1.5 percent. We are in the process of working with the others to get our defect rate down to zero.
This would not have been possible without the overt actions made by Trulia. It is very clear that the quality of the data they present to the public is of utmost concern to them. And for that, we applaud their efforts. We also applaud the efforts of our data recipient in their willingness to improve their systems to the benefit of our mutual customers.
While one can argue the merit of supplying third parties with MLS data, from our standpoint, there is no argument that the data should be sent to Trulia and Zillow directly. By doing so, they help us help others who receive our data so the public is served in the best possible way: with accuracy and timeliness.
Douglas W. Kenny
Chief Operating Officer
North Carolina Mountains MLS
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