Featured Google doesn’t know it’s your listing.

Category: Real Estate Technology

Linked DataRESOschema.org

Real Estate Data on the Web: Agents, Teams and Offices

Part 3 in a series on putting real estate data on the web with JSON-LD and schema.org vocabulary.

Note to agent, team or brokers: This post explains how to get raw contact data about your business on your website.  However, at the moment, this is not enough to get your business working google location search.   To get your business to show up in google’s location search, you have to verify your business with google at http://business.google.com.

schema:RealEstateAgent

schema:RealEstateAgent is the class for real estate agents, teams, offices and brokers.

Here’s an example mapping a reso:Member resource to schema:RealEstateAgent.

{
 "@context"  : "http://schema.org",
 "@type"     : "RealEstateAgent",
 "name"      : MemberFullName,
 "url"       : SocialMediaWebsiteUrlOrId,
 "telephone" : MemberPreferredPhone,
 "faxNumber" : MemberFax,
 "email"     : MemberEmail,
 "sameAs"    : [ SocialMediaGooglePlusUrlOrId ],
 "address"   : {
   "@type" : "PostalAddress",
   "streetAddress" : [ MemberAddress1, MemberAddress2 ],
   "addressLocality" : MemberCity,
   "addressRegion" : MemberStateOrProvince,
   "postalCode" : MemberPostalCode
 }
}

To declare a RealEstateAgent’s as a member of a team or office, use schema:memberOf which expects a value of type  schema:Organization.

{
  "memberOf" : [
    {
      "@type": "RealEstateAgent",
      "url": "http://example.com/offices/gypsy_lane"
    }
  ]
}

A few useful properties in schema:RealEstateAgent with no equivalent in RDD v1.5 are:

openingHours – The general opening hours for a business. Opening hours can be specified as a weekly time range, starting with days, then times per day. Multiple days can be listed with commas ‘,’ separating each day. Day or time ranges are specified using a hyphen ‘-‘..

{
  "openingHours" : "Mo,Tu,We,Th,Fr 09:00-16:00"
}

image  – photos or videos of a subject. Values can be objects (schema:ImageObject, schema:VideoObject) or a plain text URL reference to an image or video.

{
  "image" : ["/agents/daveDuran/image/0"]
}

sameAs – links to any other pages about the subject such as a personal website or a Facebook page go here.

{
  "sameAs"       : [
    "https://facebook.com/daveduran", 
    "https://plus.google.com/+daveduran"
  ]
}
Real Estate Technologyschema.orgSEO

Google doesn’t know it’s your listing.

You can publish raw data on your website for the search engines and this has massive potential for brokers and agents who want to drive traffic directly to their websites, but brokers will have to tell google through their websites.

Schema.org is an RDF vocabulary created by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft that allows you to push raw data to the search engines through your website and express things like:

To get a sense for how this can lead to better search experiences for consumers and more leads for your business consider this. Say I’m looking for “Oakland homes for sale.”   Here’s what I get today: 6 pages from aggregators, 3 from Realogy and 1 local independent (Congratulations Red Oak Realty for breaking the top 10!).  It’s pretty clear that content aggregators have an advantage today.

Structured Data and Search

Now let’s try “Oakland real estate agents.” Now I get something different.

What is this? Because I searched a known business category “Real Estate Agent”, I’m getting a list of Places, instead of a list of Pages.

You’ve probably had this experience searching for restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores on your phone, and it’s coming to real estate searches.

Google already shows open houses data in search results – you can see that in the first two results from classic search above.  But google can and has done a lot more with structured data search in other industries, for example food blogging.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I’m on the hook for dessert so I googled “Apple Pie Recipe.”

There’s a lot to talk about here.  Notice photos and ratings are built-in, and google shows other questions it can answer from the data it has. This could easily be done with real estate listings.

To be clear, I’m not saying search will work this way the instant you put data on your site, but I am saying it can’t work this way until you do.

Schema.org and “My Listing, My Lead”

One thing you can declare to the search engines with schema.org vocabulary is your relationship or legal rights relative to content on the web such as a listing.  If the real estate industry embraces this, it will be a game changer for brokers and agents by making it possible for brokers to show up first in search for their own listings.

I’m sure that statement will generate the usual controversy over who owns the listing, but regardless of your position on that matter,  the fact remains: raw data on the web is going to have a major impact on everyone working with real estate data. It’s time we start taking about it.

MLS associations must understand how authorship works and create or clarify rules for the appropriate and fair use of structured data in their market.

Developers should learn about schema.org and contribute to the creation of RESO guidelines for structured data on the web. If you’re interested in contributing, you rock! Email dave@yodata.io.

Brokers, here is your chance to reclaim a measure of control over your online content. Talk to your website developer about structured data on your website today.

Linked DataReal Estate TechnologyRESOschema.orgSEO

Open House event data on the web with schema.org

In Part 2 of this series on the topic of real estate data on the web, I’ll be looking at posting open house events as linked data with JSON-LD and the schema.org vocabulary.

Here’s an example of how google displays open house events in organic search results.

screenshot-2016-10-31-05-05-43

Schema.org Event

schema:Event is the generic class for events in schema.org. RESO Data Dictionary’s OpenHouse resource maps reasonably well to schema:Event  today and is actively used to publish open home events by Zillow, Realtor.com and others.

Here’s an example with mock values in JSON-LD schema.org context.

{
 "@context" : "http://schema.org",
 "@type"    : "Event",
 "name"     : "Open House 10am - 2pm",
 "url"      : "http://example.com/listings/123-main-street",
 "image"    : [
     "http://example.com/media/123-main-street/0",
     "http://example.com/media/123-main-street/1"
 ],
 "startDate" : "2016-11-06T14:00:00-07:00",
 "endDate"   : "2016-11-06T16:30:00-07:00",
 "performer" : {
     "@type" : "RealEstateAgent",
     "name"  : "Sue Showing-Agent"
 },
 "offers" : {
     "@type"              : "Offer",
     "name"               : "Charming midcentury with city views",
     "url"                : "/listings/123-main-street",
     "priceSpecification" : {
         "price"          : "$650,000",
         "priceCurrency"  : "USD"
    },
 },
 "location": {
    "@type"    : "Place",
     "name"    : "123 Main Street",
     "address" : { 
         "@type"           : "PostalAddress",
         "streetAddress"   : "123 Main Street",
         "addressLocality" : "Oakland",
         "addressRegion"   : "CA",
         "postalCode"      : "94705"
     }
 }
}

Recommended schema.org changes

  1. New class schema:OpenHouseEvent a sub-class of schema.Event – this would allow google to respond to a search like “open homes tomorrow near me” from structured data.

RESO DD Considerations

  1. schema:name is a required on schema:Event but there is no DD equivalent.  Vendors typically use dynamic names such as  “Open House – 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM”.  RESO should offer guidance for website providers in the interest of data consistency.
Real Estate Technology

Recommended Reading: The Master Switch: the Rise and Fall of Information Empires

In this insightful book Wu describes how every information and communications industry since the telephone has been taken captive by some ruthless monopoly or cartel.  This pattern appears to be playing out in a similar fashion with the internet, and with the level of reliance we have as individuals and in our public and government infrastructure on the internet, the stakes are too high to ignore.

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School, the chairman of media reform organization Free Press, and is best known for coining the phrase net neutrality.

Real Estate Technology

Project Upstream Could Backfire on Brokers

Summary:

  • Real estate technology is consolidating with Zillow and Move acquiring CRM and transaction management systems last year.
  • Consolidation makes it harder for brokers to create differentiated online experiences for agents and consumers.
  • Brokers are creating Upstream to keep control of their data, but if portals control the tools agents need to do things like contracts and transactions, it will be impossible for brokers to avoid sending that data.
  • Upstream will have to adapt to protect broker interests in the long run.

As more of the home buying and selling process moves online, real estate brokers must create unique online experiences for agents and customers as a basis for differentiation and competition.

But MLSs and other vendors that bundle the products and services that make up these experiences restrict brokers’ ability to differentiate, and brokers fear this will erode their relationships with agents and consumers.

Brokers are taking their data back with Project Upstream, a data management platform that lets brokers control where to send their listings.

But, it appears the portals’ strategy is to buy up all the places brokers want to send their data to.

Shortly after Project Upstream was revealed in May 2015, the portals started went shopping.

The Upstream dashboard might look something like this.

Where would you like to send your listings?
[] Zillow [] Move

Upstream won’t stop consolidation. Ironically, by streamlining the process, it may even help the mega-platforms grow faster.

For Upstream to protect broker interests in the long run, it will need to go beyond data storage and distribution.

This is a topic I’ll be exploring in some depth. Follow me on twitter if you’d like be informed when I post.