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The residential real estate industry has access to a wealth of data. While data-driven insights have led to huge benefits for consumers, an ever-growing web of data providers and back-end integrations can carry operational headaches and an increase in costs.
In a tightening market, many of real estate’s best organizations have started to more fully evaluate the quality and volume of data they use to serve both their members and consumers. These efforts to streamline their data and their data partners can yield significant operational and cost efficiencies.
A smooth data acquisition process starts with identifying the right data partner. An ideal data partner should provide quality data and be able to adapt to your evolving needs, rather than just solving a specific issue at one point in time.
Data is an excellent storytelling tool that fuels efficiency. As consumers shift to lifestyle searches, brokers need to become local experts and bring a neighborhood’s story to life using comprehensive data insights.
Brokers and MLSs must work together to bring valuable data to consumers, members, and agents. Access to data at a reasonable cost will ensure a level playing field within the industry, enabling both parties to serve consumers more effectively.
Watch our latest Masterclass on The Data Partner Dream: How Data Consolidation Is Delivering Efficiency Gains in Residential Real Estate:
Setting yourself up for a smooth data acquisition process
Brokers need to become local experts to adapt to the shift in consumer search as people search for neighborhoods that meet their lifestyles.
Identify your data needs
Understanding which piece of data is right for your needs is the first step towards evaluating different data providers. Once you know what you want, you can assess whether the provider can fill those requirements.
Consider the following questions as a starting point:
In what ways will your business use and serve the data?
What do you want to achieve with the data?
Are you ready to buy the data now or should you wait?
You can then align and map those answers to the data providers you are considering to determine the best one for you.
Get involved in the acquisition process
Data-driven real estate leaders advise that you learn as much as you can about the source of your data. To find out how the data supply chain works, you can ask the data provider:
Where does the data come from?
Would you be able to get the data from just one source?
What method did you use to collect the data?
Is the data up-to-date?
Who is responsible for the data?
Doing your due diligence will ensure that your expectations are met and that you are satisfied with the results.
Know what makes a good data provider
Not all data providers are created equal. However, good data share the following characteristics:
Consolidated: Consolidating data from multiple sources into one dataset eliminates the need for users to gather information from multiple disparate sources.
Complete: Quality data providers ensure that their dataset contains comprehensive and thorough information, leaving no significant gaps or missing data points.
Reliable: Reliable data providers use rigorous data collection methods, validation processes, and quality control to ensure data accuracy, consistency, and integrity.
Trustworthy: Data providers who are transparent about their data sources and methodologies build trust among users who rely on the data for critical decisions.
Robust: Data providers that provide granular data points, a wide range of variables, and historical information enable users to extract meaningful insights from data.
Streamlined: A streamlined dataset is well-organized, structured, and easy to access, which facilitates data exploration, integration, and analysis.
Close to the source: Good data providers obtain data as close to the original source as possible, minimizing the possibility of data distortion, manipulation, or delays.
Choosing a data provider who is flexible and adaptable is also important. A good partner will grow with you — not just solve a particular need at one point in time. Be sure your partners will be able to follow along with you if ever your data needs change or pivot.
Evaluate the success of your data partner
Work with a company that knows how to deliver data effectively. You need to align with the right partner and make sure that they can support you as you build your data ecosystem.
More concretely, measure their performance against service-level agreement metrics, such as uptime and first-call resolution ratios. These metrics should be included right from the beginning of your contract or agreement, so that you can determine whether the data provider is meeting your needs.
The most important thing is that you can share your feedback and express your concerns. A good data partner should be able to troubleshoot problems with you if you need them to, depending on their prior experience with your issue.
The data itself can also be used to evaluate your data partner. When no one challenges or claims that they’ve seen different information elsewhere, you probably have a good data partner that provided you with accurate, standardized, and reliable data.
Using data as a storytelling tool to fuel efficiency
A comprehensive database allows you to paint an accurate picture of a neighborhood through data points such as points of interest and demographics. In the post-covid era, location data is increasingly important, especially as remote work becomes more prevalent. Helping people find their next home requires taking that data and adding context to it to make it more meaningful.
Empower brokers to become local experts
Brokers are best positioned to tell a neighborhood’s story, and help people envision themselves living there. Consumers recognize that they need the advice and support of a local expert. After reviewing a listing’s property information, they will want to speak with a realtor about the area in which the property is located.
The last thing you want the broker to do is go to a site that their client visited to verify the information. Instead, the broker should be able to access neighborhood information, whether they live in it or not, using their MLS or brokerage system.
Consumers want to be reassured that they are looking in the right place by someone who is familiar with the area. So, for the industry as a whole, it is important to provide brokers with the data that they need to position themselves as local experts and paint that picture accurately for their clients.
Adapt to new ways in which consumers search
Consumer search has changed since the pandemic. Three years ago, people were more interested in square footage and the number of bedrooms. Today, they are looking for proximity to amenities, such as coffee shops and grocery stores, since they work and live in the same place. Lifestyle searches have increased as a result.
Home seekers have become more sophisticated in their search as they prepare to make the most important decision of their lives. Now that their needs have evolved, they are looking for information online that is more detailed and rich with insights. These changes require brokers to adapt and provide consumers with a greater range of neighborhood information.
Fostering a successful partnership between MLSs and brokers
Brokers and MLSs must ensure that the location data they bring in (demographics, points of interest, etc.) is as valuable and effective as possible to consumers, members, and agents.
Be a conduit for data points
By working together and sharing information, brokerages can better serve the community as a whole. As they participate in this cooperative effort, MLSs become part of that brokerage community as well. This collaboration includes a number of extensive data points that go well beyond whether a property is active, pending, or sold.
In addition, the role of MLSs should be to encourage brokerages to brainstorm ways to cooperate with each other while still competing to attract consumers to their brands through this data.
Use data to understand and mitigate risk for consumers
When it comes down to it, data is primarily valuable to consumers. They want to feel confident in their decisions and know that they are making a wise investment — and brokers should be able to help them assess and mitigate the risks involved.
To achieve total collaboration, both the MLS and broker must believe that the information provided, including property and location characteristics, is in the consumer’s best interest.
Provide access to data at a reasonable cost
When MLSs have access to different datasets through partnerships with companies such as Local Logic, they can collaborate with brokerages to give brokers access to data at a reasonable price. Creating a level playing field within the industry will ensure that both parties are able to serve consumers effectively.
That’s where that collaboration could strengthen the bond between MLSs and brokers.
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