A Progress Report on Real Estate Data

Oct 8, 2019 by

(Above, L to R) Marc Gould, National Association of REALTORS®; Sam DeBord, Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO); Rebecca Jensen, Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED); Richard Haggerty, Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS® (HGAR); and Ken Baris, Jordan Baris Inc. REALTORS® Real Living, discuss “The State of Real Estate Data: Have We Moved the Ball Forward?” at RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange. (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

How far has the industry come in the effort to standardize, control and streamline real estate data? Experts recently tackled that question and more during a panel session at RISMedia’s 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange, held in New York City September 18-19.

Marc Gould, senior vice president of Member Development at the National Association of REALTORS®, moderated the session, “The State of Real Estate Data: Have We Moved the Ball Forward?” Gould started off by asking Sam DeBord to explain why he made a “big leap” earlier this year from successful broker to CEO of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO).

DeBord said it’s a “critical time for the brokerage industry and organized real estate, in general.” That’s due in no small part to technological changes and an “increase in consumer demands on the transaction process.” Today, people have grown to expect speed, simplicity and interoperability from technology.

“While most of the world is serving consumers with that kind of technology, in real estate, in a lot of ways, we’re not,” said DeBord. “We’re still giving a Palm Pilot experience to consumers who want a smartphone experience.”

According to DeBord, it’s incumbent on the industry to follow the lead of other sectors and collaborate on data standards for the betterment of everyone.

“The biggest technology companies in the world have adopted open standards to raise their foundation,” he noted. “Amazon, Google, Netflix—you name any of these companies, and they work together to build complicated standards so that the World Wide Web works well and their tools integrate to provide that consumer experience everybody expects. Then they compete, then they go after each other, building their businesses on top of this higher foundation.”

RESO works to spur similar cooperation and innovation among real estate stakeholders. Previously part of NAR, RESO was incorporated as an independent trade group in 2011 to develop, adopt and implement open data standards and processes for the industry.

“I think RESO adoption is absolutely critical, not just through brokerages, but through MLSs,” said Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED).

She said industry interest in standard adoption is rising, noting that RESO conferences have grown significantly from “just a gathering of a few engineers working inside an office at NAR” to large events with sold-out hotels.

Gould asked DeBord how brokers can get involved in RESO and why it’s important.

“For the brokers in the room, you know that some of your tools and software companies are fantastic, but they don’t all talk to each other,” DeBord said. “They don’t transfer data between the MLS and the broker back-office tools and any of the tools you use with your agents. Ask those companies if they’re engaging in the process with RESO to adopt data standards.”

He added, “It’s not just an MLS’ job to adopt standards; it’s about brokerage technology and your vendors’ technology and being able to get all those organizations to say that not only are they members, but they’re actively working to implement those standards across tools.”

Gould said, “I think one of the biggest hooks here is that if there aren’t common standards and if we don’t have this basic platform that everyone can work off of, the brokers could find their differentiating technology, but if it can’t grab the information that’s already out there, it just falls flat.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about making business easier,” said DeBord. “Maybe your agents and some brokers don’t necessarily get data standards down to the core, but they care about results. They care about efficiency.”

On the MLS front, Jensen said, “All of this disorder and fragmentation really inhibits the adoption of technology in our industry. The easier we make it to work with MLS data, the more innovation and competition will be brought to bear.”

Jensen is a true believer in collaboration, as proven by MRED’s partnership with several other MLSs across the U.S. to create the MLS Grid, which offers a consolidated data platform based on RESO standards and standard license agreements designed to improve MLS services and benefit thousands of users.

Richard Haggerty, Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS® (HGAR), and Ken Baris, Jordan Baris Inc. REALTORS® Real Living, at the CEO Exchange (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

“We decided there’s definitely a need to have a friendly platform that is operated by MLSs and that can do exactly what we’ve been talking about,” said Jensen. “Consolidation is a great thing, but that’s not the only solution out there. MLSs can actually work together and collaborate to make the marketplace better.”

Richard Haggerty, CEO of the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS®, is in the midst of launching a regional MLS in the New York metropolitan area.

“The journey started at an industry conference, where they were talking about consolidation,” he recounted. “A lot of the time, that’s all we hear about—consolidation—but this particular map had New York City with big circles. It really struck me that we had to do a better job of leveraging the real estate data in what I consider the greatest geography in the world to the benefit of our members, as opposed to letting outside entities do that.”

After that conference, Haggerty talked to an executive from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island Inc., a subsidiary of the Long Island Board of REALTORS®, and the groups eventually decided to partner on creating a regional MLS.

“There is no MLS in Manhattan,” said Haggerty. “We are going to change that. Especially in the city, they suffer from data disorder.”

So far, Haggerty said, he’s received mixed reactions ranging from “Yes, we need that” to “Good luck with that.”

“Some people are very entrenched in doing business the way they’ve been doing it for a long time, but from my perspective, the status quo is not acceptable,” he said. “If we cannot drive change to the benefit of our members, then we need to get into another business. I do think there are a lot of visionaries in Manhattan that realize this is the future.”

Ken Baris, president of Jordan Baris Inc. REALTORS® Real Living, gave a broker’s perspective and discussed the importance of data science.

“Data is not just charts and graphs that you sort of glaze over. It’s not just a list of agents by sales volume and market area,” said Baris. “For us, data science is how we take the information available to us and structure it in a way that we get actual insights from it for driving our business forward. The problem is the data we have needs to be structured properly.”

He noted that brokers can use data to help with establishing pricing strategies, recruiting, determining who needs coaching and figuring out the best time and areas to do mailings, among other benefits.

Gould said acknowledging the difference between information and insight is “a really interesting differentiator.”

“Information doesn’t tell you what to do. It just gives you a little barometer,” explained Baris. “Insights tell you how to act on the information.”

He said data science “isn’t cheap,” but it’s worth it. Baris also suggested it’s best to outsource data science. “At the end of the day, we’re brokerages. I don’t want to be a data scientist.”

He joked, “The one thing I can do is calculate commissions very quickly, but other than that, math? Who needs it?”

Gould then asked what it takes to help ensure brokers and agents understand and use the technology and data available to them.

“You have to make it very easy,” said Baris. “No matter how complicated it is under the hood, what they see on their screen has to be simple, fast and something they can relate to.”

He added that training is important, and conducting case studies can determine what’s working and what isn’t.

“Communication needs to be constant,” added Haggerty. “You can’t just roll out a shiny new toy, say it’s great and expect everyone to adopt it.”

Notably, Baris said, “We find the associates that are using our data tools are far excelling compared to the associates that aren’t.”

There’s an awful lot of data and technology out there for real estate professionals to take advantage of. Sorting through it all may be difficult, but by embracing standards, collaboration, innovation and education, the industry can harness the power of data to create a better experience for brokers, agents and, most importantly, homebuyers and sellers.

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Joe Bebon is RISMedia’s associate editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at

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Where Are We Now? Data Shows Substantial Housing Progress Post-Recession

Jul 28, 2019 by

Since the recession, the U.S. real estate housing markets have undergone a significant transformation, creating a booming real estate industry that is almost unrecognizable to the one we had just a decade ago.

June marked the longest period of economic expansion for the country, reaching 121 months. What’s happened in that time? According to a CoreLogic report, “The Role of Housing in the Longest Economic Expansion,” the housing flip rate and home prices and rents are up. One of the biggest indicators of change, however, is the drastic dip in homes with negative equity. All of these improvements have been driven by several economic factors, such as low unemployment and rising GDP growth rates.

“During the last nine years, the expansion has created more than 20 million jobs, raised family incomes and rebuilt consumer confidence,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “The longest stretch of mortgage rates below 5 percent in more than 60 years has supplemented these factors. These economic forces have driven a recovery in home sales, construction, prices and home equity wealth.”

Home Equity Rates Have Drastically Improved
Negative equity no more. In the first quarter of 2010, the percentage of underwater homes sat at a dismal 25.9 percent. Fast-forward to earlier this year, and that number has significantly dropped to a mere 4.1 percent.

Homeowners are in a more profitable space. In the first quarter of 2019, home equity across the nation totaled $ 15.8 trillion, a vast improvement over the $ 6.1 trillion in early 2009. Additionally, per homeowner, average equity increased from $ 75,000 to $ 171,000 in that time period.

According to the report, several factors contributed to this equity growth, including home price appreciation and foreclosure- and short sale-motivated debt cancellation and principal paydown.

“Home prices have increased steadily since 2011, creating record amounts of home equity and putting homeowners in a good position to weather future downturns,” said Molly Boesel, principal economist for CoreLogic, in the report.

Home Prices and Rents Have Grown
There’s been continued growth in this segment of the market. Since June 2009, U.S. home prices increased 50 percent while single-family rents got a 33 percent boost. While the homeowner households decreased by 1.1 million between 2014 and 2015, CoreLogic attributes the gap being filled in 2019 to a boost in millennial buyers. According to the report, millennials accounted for 44 percent of home-purchase mortgage applications during that time.

A rising cost of labor and materials could also be driving up home prices. The report found that in June 2018, the cost of materials increased 7.3 percent year-over-year in response to new steel and aluminum tariffs. Additionally, labor costs increased 2.3 percent year-over-year due to a low supply of construction workers. 

House-Flipping Bounced Back and Remains Stable
Going into the last housing bubble, investors worked quick to turn a profit before the real estate markets tumbled. At the peak, in the first quarter of 2006, flips made up a high 11.3 percent of homes. Post-recession, that rate dropped to 4.9 percent, bouncing back by 2018 to an even higher 11.4 percent. This may not be a sign of an upcoming recession, however. CoreLogic reports that the flipping space has widely changed, with investors making more sustainable decisions and professionals replacing the novice flippers of the past.

A Thriving Economy?
Several economic elements could be at play, shows the report. Rising employment rates could be helping with the increase in potential homebuyers and in decreasing negative equity rates. Additionally, housing is tied to wealth creation, correlating with the increase in home flips.

With steady continued growth and inflation rates below the 2 percent target set by the Federal Reserve Board, the question arises: When will the U.S. market hit its peak? According to CoreLogic, stock market bumps and drops in the 10-Year Treasury Yield are causing concerns. Data shows, however, that growth is happening at a slower pace, with mortgage delinquency rates reaching a record low of 3.6 percent in April 2019.

“We expect the housing market to enter a normalcy phase over the next 24 months,” said Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, in the report. “With prices neither rising too fast nor too slow, and with a growing stream of young households looking to buy homes over the next two decades, the long-term view looks healthy.” 

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Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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Measure Progress, Not Perfection

Feb 19, 2018 by

How do you measure up so far? We’re more than 30 days into the new year, and now is the perfect time to look at our progress. When we measure what we expect, we can back up and inspect how we got there…or not. New business plans, new strategic initiatives and fervent resolutions have been made, and inspecting our progress helps us avoid defaulting to old habits.

When it comes to staying on track, an airplane has a unique competitive advantage over humans. Let’s say you’re on an airplane flying from one side of the country to the other. There’s a guidance system that continually adjusts the nose of the plane to make course corrections, which keeps the plane on the intended target. Humans, however, don’t have a gyroscope, and even with the best intentions, they can easily lose sight of their intended goals. The goals we recently committed to may already be a bit foggy as many of us revert to our more comfortable behavior.

While the year is still young, here are the top three success habits to keep us on track for an exceptional year:

  1. Clearly define three top goals, which, if accomplished by this time next year, will make you feel super successful. Decide what it will take to have a high-performance year by focusing on only one week at a time.
  1. Create a master weekly checklist with activities you want to complete every day of every week. Be sure to include both personal and professional goals.
  1. Develop an action plan for each category. For prospecting, block out one hour per day every day of the week. If your goal is to exercise for better health, add a one-hour workout to your action plan. If you want to focus on your personal relationships, make a weekly date night one of your goals.

To stay focused on your daily success habits, clearly define one top priority that must be accomplished every day (or on specific days) in order to help you achieve your goals. For a free copy of a daily success habit tracker, go to

At the end of each week, look at your progress and review your process. Plenty of people start the race, but only a handful actually complete it. Did you miss a few hours of prospecting? Add those hours to the following week to stay on target. Be vigilant in your focus to avoid reverting back to those old habits that are comfortable, but not exciting. According to Stanford University’s Dr. BJ Fogg: “There is just one way to radically change your behavior, and that is to radically change your environment.”

What will you change in your environment right now? A great start is to close your door and windows (as in Microsoft) to get more done early in the morning to avoid interruptions. If getting in better shape is on the agenda, partner up with a friend or neighbor for consistency and to help keep you accountable. Is your desk a mess? It’s time to clean up all those papers and files that distract you from your vital projects and goals.

We cannot improve what we cannot measure, so change your focus and zero in on what you do every day to allow yourself the joy and exhilaration of getting what you want out of life this year. The finish line is yours one step at a time if you head in the right direction.

Murphy_Terri_60x60Terri Murphy is a communication engagement specialist, author, speaker and coach. She is the author/co-author of five books, and founder of Contact her at, or For more information, please visit

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State of the Nation’s Housing: Affordability Puts Pressure on Progress

Jun 19, 2017 by

Housing has largely bounced back from the crash, with several key gauges again at healthy, pre-collapse levels, according to the newly released State of the Nation’s Housing report, published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. A definitive recovery in home prices, growth in home-building and unbridled demand are strengthening the market, the report reveals, but affordability is putting pressure on progress, especially for low- and middle-income households:

By many metrics, the housing market has overcome the worst effects of the housing bust. Nominal house prices have regained previous peaks, construction volumes are nearing their long-term averages, and household growth is becoming more balanced between the owner and renter markets.
– “State of the Nation’s Housing 2017,” Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University

Home prices nationally appreciated 5.6 percent in 2016, resurrecting equity buried in the recession, the report shows—but, when adjusted for inflation, most homeowners have not yet fully realized wealth that was lost. Prices rose in 97 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan markets, but prices in 32 of those markets have not beaten their prior peaks. Prices in areas on the East and West Coasts have made substantial strides, while prices in portions of the Midwest and South have fallen behind, contributing to an affordability divide—prices in the 10 metropolitan markets with the most appreciation, in fact, average $ 575,000, more than four times the average in the 10 markets with the least appreciation.

Home-building, at the same time, netted 1.17 million units—up from 2015, but still down compared to activity in the 1980s and ’90s. The building of single-family homes expanded by 9.4 percent, but the building of smaller single-family homes and townhouses, which are in severely short supply, fell—a trend that has persisted for the past decade. Building continues to be tamped down by regulatory burdens, scarce labor and shrinking available acreage.

“While the recovery in home prices reflects a welcome pick-up in demand, it is also being driven by very tight supply,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Any excess housing that may have been built during the boom years has been absorbed, and a stronger supply response is going to be needed to keep pace with demand—particularly for moderately-priced homes.”

Though fewer households are cost-burdened—or spending over 30 percent of their income on housing—many are still struggling, particularly renters, according to the report. Over the last five years, the share of cost-burdened owner households has seen a sharper decline than the share of cost-burdened renter households: 6.5 percent versus 1.9 percent.

“The problem is most acute for renters,” Herbert says. “More than 11 million renter households paid more than half of their incomes for housing in 2015, leaving little room to pay for life’s other necessities.”

There is a brighter outlook for the homeownership rate, which could rebound if household formation pans out as predicted, the report reveals. Low-income, minority and renter households are expected to considerably contribute to growth, with affordability playing a major role, specifically, in renters making the transition to homeownership. Forty-five percent of renters can afford the costs for a median-priced home in their area, the report shows—in line with similar findings from a recent analysis that demonstrate renters can afford more than a median-priced home.

“Although the homeownership rate did edge down again in 2016, the decline was the smallest in years,” says Daniel McCue, senior research associate at the Joint Center. “We may be finding the bottom.”

Owner household formation is projected to increase 8.9 million between 2015 and 2025, according to the report, while renter household formation is projected to increase 4.7 million. The report anticipates minorities will comprise the majority of growth in both owner and renter household formation, with Hispanics encompassing a significant share—an estimate potentially stunted, however, by future policy pertaining to immigration, as well as limited mortgage credit accessibility.

Another factor influencing household formation involves generational shifts. The report projects baby boomer households to increase 11.3 million between 2015 and 2025, and millennial households to increase 2.6 million.

The report’s researchers call for the cooperation of government at all levels to ensure homeownership is universally attainable.

State and local government have a central role to play in defining specific community needs, crafting policies, and marshaling resources to support housing solutions,” the report states, “but only the federal government can provide funding at the scale necessary to make meaningful progress to the nation’s stated goal of a decent home in a suitable living environment for all.
– “State of the Nation’s Housing 2017,” Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University

“Meeting this growing and diverse [housing] demand,” McCue says, “will require concerted efforts by the public, private and nonprofit sectors to explain the range of housing options available.”

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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