Yet Another Stuff Up!!! Where is Our Data Going?

This is the question that an agent posed to me earlier today after yet another stuff up by the big boys.

I was speaking at an event yesterday where one of the agents mentioned the CommBank Property Guide iPhone App and the significant amount of data that was now being made available via realestate.com.au and RPData.

As the discussion went on, one of the agents logged on and started searching through the Comm Bank’s app. Only by fluke, another agent suggested they take a look at one of his latest listings which is going up for Auction.

The listing agent was absolutely horrified to see that the property which was uploaded onto realestate.com.au as an auction now appeared on Comm Bank’s app with an asking price displayed.

The price that was displayed on the Comm Bank app was the same price that the agent had inserted under the search price field.

Any pricing entered within the search price field has always been a hidden price whether a property goes up for auction or whether it has an asking price. These prices have never been for public viewing, or at least until now.

I was blown away when the agent showed me the listing in question on the Commbank site. I couldn’t believe that something so fundamental and basic could be breached.

I followed up with the agent again today. To REA’s credit the pricing issue for that listing has now been rectified but in typical fashion the agent was told that it’s not their fault the issue seemed to be from CommBank’s side? So who’s fault is it really?

Agents don’t have an agreement with CommBank’s Property Guide app, they have an agreement with REA Group.

Under the circumstances, should agents have the option to not make listings, etc available to Comm Bank’s app?

Is this only an isolated case? Has it happened to others? Will it happen again? Can REA Group and Comm Bank guarantee that no such issue will ever happen again?

Can you imagine what would have happened if the vendor had seen it? Who knows whether a buyer has seen it or not? Does this mean that agents have to check every listing on every site that their data is being uploaded to?

NOTE: Out of respect for the agent and the vendor trying to sell their property I have deliberately left out the specific details of the price, property, area, agent, etc because sharing that information could have a detrimental impact on the result of the property auction.

Commonwealth Bank, REA Group, Realestate.com.au, RP Data

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About Greg Vincent

Greg Vincent The Online Guy for Real Estate Professionals is a Speaker, Trainer and is a highly respected online strategist. As a real estate professional with Internet and Social Media nous, Greg Vincent presents the how-to on getting the most out of the internet and social media without the “geek speak”. His insights into on-line real estate marketing are sought throughout Australia and valued for cutting through the confusion that locks many out of gaining full value from the web. After 20 years as a real estate agent, Greg now has multiple web-based businesses and works with some of the best agents in Australia.

29 Responses to Yet Another Stuff Up!!! Where is Our Data Going?

  1. Peter Ricci August 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    If it was one auction, I would guess every single Auction would have been the same, it is in the system, not any individual listing.

  2. Ryan O'Grady August 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    You’d think the money they would be getting from CBA for the data would be enough to do some proper due diligence!

  3. Robert Simeon August 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Surprise, surprise! They sell it with absolutely no care factor 🙁

  4. Greg Vincent August 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Peter, I went searching to see if i could find some others but there are probably 100,000 auctions that someone would have to sift through both REA and the Comm Bank app looking for a discrepancy.

    Due to this glitch I think agents should check their listings thoroughly on the Comm Bank app.

    How they could display the ‘Hidden’ Search Price that the agent had entered into their system was abysmal.

    There is no rime or reason for REA or any of the major portals to ever share that hidden data out into the public domain.

  5. Vic August 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Peter,

    Agree, its a system problem from the CBA’s reader. Not a big problem to fix the system, but potentially big problem for those who have given away a price field not intended to be given away.

    We had this problem when we took on a multi lister whose fields did not match ours.

    Luckily we found the problem as we were monitoring our site as every listing came through.

    The CBA will to move quickly and so should have REA- instead of starting the blame game.

  6. Chris Wilkins August 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Like have posted before I dont see REA as giving to hoots about us the Agents that are their clients
    I challenge everyone to boycott REA for 1 month and see how it’s effects our businesses. I truly believe after research I have done it will have nil effect

    Who’s up for the challenge…,?

  7. Vic August 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Try boycotting the CBA – this is where I bet the problem lies. And having been a CBA senior exec, this area of their business would be a “pubic hair” in their overall business model and the boys looking after it would have bigger financial fish to fry on a day by day basis.

    Notwithstanding this, REA should move quickly (as I hope is happening as we speak) to help the CBA clean up the problem. As with Chris, I suspect that the perception will be an REA “stuff up”.

  8. PaulD August 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I heard about an agent in Brisbane, last week, that had a problem with the CBA iPhone App, and it showed the last sold price rather than the expected price.
    Bearing in mind that the property was last sold in 2002, I bet there are a few people who think the property is relatively cheap !

  9. Jim August 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    As agents – it seems lunacy that we give away our clients property information, be it a new listing or a recent sale, only so they can sell it back to us and/or other party without care or concern…. Jim

  10. Greg Vincent August 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Vic, if the CBA only see this issue as a pubic hair then it’s just another example of how much big business underestimates the influence that an agent can have out there on the front line.

    Having been a senior executive for CBA previously Vic, if agents started telling buyers to boycott getting a home loan through CBA do you think that might make them sit up and take notice? Or are they that out of touch with reality too?

  11. Vic August 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Greg,

    Of course they would sit up and take notice. But agents are not going boycott CBA home laons over this issue as they are not going to boycott REA. It would be too long a bow to draw to link Home Loans for clients to Auction prices shown on CBA iphone ap.

    Just get on the phone to either or both of REA and CBA in numbers and complain, that is, if the issue is not sorted out in the next day or so.

  12. Craig Adams August 19, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    Speaking of REA and their so called great new IT platform they have announced a smashing new profit off the back of their whizz bang site.

    You are kidding aren’t you.

    It’s just plain spin. If it hadn’t been for the whack associated with the exorbitant rate rises for most agents then the profit wouldn’t be there.

    Fix the issues around security of data before saying what a great site you’ve got and as a result its driving the fantastic profits. Baloney.

  13. aryan August 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    REA has been sending about auction prices in alerts also

    the hidden tag is not working

  14. Tatiana Mijalica August 20, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    No way – nightmare! Any further updates on this?

  15. Chris August 20, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    Revenues at REA up by 19% in Australia….price rise was more than that if i recall correctly?

    Coming off a year when the property market was cracking along and Australia avoided recession….I’d give Greg Ellis a 3/10 for that effort.

  16. Ricky August 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Agree with Chris and Craig that this is a fairly disappointing result considering the price rise and the listings that would have gone through the portal in the last FY.

    My take on this is that their Aust business including Commercial is plateauing based on their 95% dominance of Australia that with a population of 23 Million can only be squeezed so far. Take out the price rise and you probably have virtually no gain.

    Italy is a different story and and will be what REA will be hanging its hat on in the next couple of years as it seeks to replicate its Australian market position only this time the upside is much bigger based on Italy having three times the population.

    Luxembourg is nice to have but is smaller than a handful of Sydney suburbs so no massive growth there. Hong Kong will be a battle as there is concerted competition as is the case in France.

    The share price will be interesting as many may wait to see if it is overpriced based on if they can develop and reap market dominance in Italy.

  17. Greg Vincent August 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Tatiana, I spoke with one of the reps earlier today and I know that they are onto it. I know that they have been doing a bit of work on their site with setting up a carousel for the feature properties to help overcome the agents’ ongoing battle for supremacy on their site.

    I guess that explains why I got the site under construction image when I went to check it out earlier today… http://screencast.com/t/NzEwZmM1M

    I thought it was weird at the time but I must admit that in their defence I only had time to do a screen capture and then when I refreshed it was back online again. I’m not sure how long they had their outage for?

    I haven’t seen one on REA since they were doing their NEW look site launch where the image was the house falling on the wicked witch but then again I don’t search their site very often.

  18. Sriwan August 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Why single out one player.
    Agents upload to all the portals.
    They sign away rights in the fine print.
    Then of course you have the scraping sites who take data from all the majors.
    Seems like a furphy to me.
    Sure with data you will always have the odd glitch,in a new app but the nett of it is,it’s an agents job to get people buyers in the door,and guess what it’s no cost to agents,so aren’t these apps doing agents and vendors a favor?
    Surely As an agent the more places and channels my listings go the better for me ESP at no extra cost.
    Some threads here maintain it’s the agents data,but in reality it’s the vendors data?
    Agents are just engaged to facilitate a transaction,in the same way an agent submits data to portals etc it’s in effect the vendor that allows them to do it.
    These developments are good for the industry after all the business is about making as many property transactions as we can isn’t it.
    As for hidden price as a consumer I find no price properties really annoying.
    About as annoying as an agents window full of properties with sold on them.

  19. Tatiana Mijalica August 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    Greg, here is another here:

    http://www.realestate.com.au/buy/property-apartment-in-malvern%2c+vic+3144%3b+/list-1

    I’m also concerned about the Undisclosed sales. Any news here?

  20. Glenn Batten August 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    REA has been glitching all day today with errors popping up everywhere. I guess they are have been rushing to fix this problem.

  21. Nick August 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    Nah this isnt the first time this has happened.

    I know a way to get a approximate price of a property on RealEstate.com.au usually within $100k. Auctions, hidden prices, the lot. Its a very reliable trick.

    And no its not the obvious one of just setting the search prices very close together, and slowly increasing it until you find the property in question.

  22. Greg Vincent August 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Any chance of sharing it with B2 readers Nick or are we meant to guess?

    It would be good to know because due to the legislation around under quoting (especially around Auctions in Vic & Qld) the search pricing that the agents set could end up coming under quite a bit of scrutiny, especially if it is possible to identify it as easily as you have explained above and/or if it keeps popping up via the Comm Bank App.

  23. Nick August 23, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Sorry Greg, I wont publicise it because I don’t want them to catch on to it and remove it. It is on the public realestate.com.au site (not anywhere hidden) and it takes me less than 30 seconds to get a approximate price of any property.

    But you can always simply search 300k to 350k, then 350k to 400k and so on until you get the property you are looking for. Takes a bit longer but there is nothing they can do about it.

    If I had a iPhone I could also find the Comm Bank’s data source and query it directly as well.

    They leak information everywhere. I believe they hired new people when they redid their site. Their older guys knew all the laws and how things need to be done but they lost that experience when they got their new website dev team.

  24. Greg Vincent August 23, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    I understand Nick. There are a lot of agents who’ve expressed some real concern around this. It sounds like they have every right to be concerned since REA’s new look site was developed.

  25. Darian August 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Another issue with property price display lies in the interpretation of REA xml specifications based on industry knowledge. In the wrong hands (CBA perhaps?), the REA specification can very easily be taken literally. For example, http://reaxml.realestate.com.au/docs/reaxml1-xml-format.html#price states that if a display flag is set to true, the price can be shown anywhere a buyer might see it. As a developer working with property xml, you would need to be aware of (which isn’t included with the REA spec) the need to hide price information if other aspects of the listing indicate it is for auction. So taken literally, an inexperienced developer can very easily expose pricing for auction listings on a major portal or other information system.

  26. Igshaan September 2, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Very interesting and alarming!

    I bet you it is happening in the USA as well!

  27. Dennis Moore September 24, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I haven’t downloaded the app yet (don’t have an iPhone) but heard about it and Googled it to find this page.

    I am considering selling my house soon, and Auction was an option I was considering.

    Is it true that (potentially) during a live auction, all of the bidders could be standing there with there iPhones pointed at my house, and know exactly what I last paid for it?!

  28. George Rousos October 10, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Hi Dennis,

    That is right,my brother and I were testing it out on his iphone the other day and sure enough, all price history pertaining to my property showed up, however, it’s accuracy wasn’t always a hundred percent.

  29. RMK October 16, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    A real estate principal recently engaged the services of a man known to the licensee to be and still is, out on bail for fraud along with his crim mates (ref WTS). With the agents full consent, this individual was granted unrestricted access to RPdata, and other sensitive information, he also attend RPdata training. No questions asked.

    As he was not a registered salesperson, there was no criminal history check required. It appears privacy and discretion no longer exist. Time for
    RPdata and others to re-think. It must be that who cares factor, it’s all about the almighty dollar.

    “Fix the issues around security of data before……” but alas that is obviously way out of control!

    I’d be interested to read your comments.

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