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Big Data in Real Estate

How Data is Sold Today

The current state of Big Data in Real Estate is a monopoly. Only a few large corporations control the licensing of nationwide property data. The data can be licensed by other businesses at a very high price (hundred of thousands of dollars per year), and still have very limited rights on how the data can be used.
The primary source of property data is Tax Assessor databases maintained by each county in the United States. With over 3,000 counties, it is difficult to manage and maintain a centralized source of data. This is the primary reason for the high licensing costs from those businesses that have invested in aggregating property data.
Even though the Property Data available today is comprehensive when it pertains to the details of the real estate property and the recorded data of the transaction, it still lacks real-time information and is only updated when the property is sold. In order to fill these gaps in information, companies like,, and other marketplaces have engaged property owners and service providers to build multi-billion-dollar businesses creating real-time transactions. This data is proprietary to those businesses and does not reward the property owners for use of their data.
Another source of Property Data is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When a property owner is looking to sell their property (or real estate agent representing the homeowner) they publish the listing on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) in order for other agents and the general public to know the home is for sale. There are hundreds of MLS organizations across the country, each operated differently. Services like,, and others have aggregated property listings from these (and other) sources to provide a singular place to access this information.
Today the ability to access the data within any MLS requires a licensing agreement. Although the purpose of restricting access to listing data is to protect the real estate agent and the associations, companies like and others have circumvented the barriers and provide full access to listings to the general public and generate advertising revenue through their web traffic.
Due to the existing inefficiencies of how MLS data is added, stored, and distributed the real estate agents and homeowners have lost control and ownership of the data they provide through a listing. Companies like Zillow monetize the data provided by the real estate agents and do not provide any compensation directly to the agents or homeowners.
The limited access, rising costs, and monopolization of real estate data restrict the marketplace and bypass the property owner or authorized agent who has rights to the data.
Last modified 3mo ago
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