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Trulia Questions Neutrality of ListHub Now That They’re Owned By Competitor Move

Sep 22, 2010 Michael Wurzer

Sami Inkinen, COO of Trulia, writes in a blog post yesterday that he’s worried about whether ListHub will be an honest broker regarding listing activity data now that it’s owned by rival Move, Inc. and Realtor.com:

The previously independent ListHub platform (some called it the Switzerland of listing syndication) for listing reporting is now owned by one of the largest “channels”. What happens if there’s a dip in performance and Realtor.com’s numbers drop below those of its competitor sites?

It is difficult to imagine a world where JetBlue and Virgin America would be buying fuel from American Airlines in a fair and independent marketplace where American Airlines has full visibility into the demand from their competitors. Listhub owned by Move Inc, essentially creates this situation.

Sami then suggests that a possible solution would be to “create a committee made up of brokers, MLSs and major online real estate listing sites which will provide accountability to all customers they serve.” I’m not really sure who Sami is suggesting should form this committee, but, at least with respect to listing activity data, I think there’s an easier way.

Several months ago, I posted about a Listing Activity API we created to make it easy for third-party web sites to post listing activity data into the MLS system, which, in my view, is the obvious neutral party for collecting and reporting listing activity data (at least on an aggregate level). Shortly after publishing the API, I contacted both Realtor.com and ThreeWide to see if they’d adopt the standard for the benefit of our mutual customers, but I haven’t heard back from them and now that the merger is announced, I can understand more why that is the case.

Anyway, I think this API or something like it could easily answer Sami’s concerns at least on the neutrality of the listing activity reporting, and I think Sami’s concerns are a good reason why MLSs should be requiring all data recipients (syndicators, etc.) to adopt an API that reports back listing activity data.