NeighborCity

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NeighborCity
Type Private
Industry Real Estate Information Services
Founded 2007
Founder(s) Jonathan Cardella
Area served US
Key people Jonathan Cardella, Founder and CEO, Ali Vahabzadeh, President and COO
Parent American Home Realty Network
Website www.neighborcity.com

NeighborCity is a residential real estate information and service company that rates real-estate agents in the United States, offering a way for buyers and sellers of homes to compare and evaluate agents.[1][2][3][4] It is based in San Francisco.

The company rates virtually every member of the National Association of Realtors in the United States, based on transaction and listing history.[3] NeighborCity analyzes agents’ performance based on closing rate, number of closings, number of active listings, geographic specialization, number of days on market, rate of dual agency, sales price per square foot, and the difference between ask and sale price, for the homes they sell.[3][5] NeighborCity provides an evaluation of the quality of service delivered by agents, with respect to their clients’ interests and relative to competing real-estate agents.[3][5]

The company also maintains a national database of real-estate listings.[3][4][5] The site recommends corresponding independent buy-side real estate agents next to each for-sale listing along with a performance score and a link to a detailed professional profile for each recommended agent.[3][4][5]

History[edit]

Jonathan Cardella founded NeighborCity in 2007, and he serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Ali Vahabzadeh is the President and Chief Operating Officer.[6] The company is owned and operated by American Home Realty Network, Inc. (AHRN), a licensed California real estate brokerage.[1][4][7][8]

Business Model[edit]

NeighborCity uses real-estate transaction and listing database information from national sources to construct its rankings.[1] The company developed and uses AgentMatch, a system for matching private home buyers and sellers with agents based on the characteristics of the property for sale, including its location, price, and property type, and how they relate to the past experience and performance of the licensed real estate agents in that area.[8] NeighborCity receives a portion of the commission earned by brokers on closed transactions that result from referrals.[2][8]

Lawsuits over IP rights to listing data[edit]

NAR and MLS suits[edit]

In March 2012, shortly after NeighborCity provided the public performance rankings of National Association of Realtors members, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems filed a civil lawsuit against AHRN/NeighborCity claiming copyright violations by using MLS real estate listing information to craft its realtor-rating database.[2] Northstar MLS of St. Paul, Minnesota, followed suit with similar litigation in April 2012.[7][9]

NeighborCity alleged that the suit was brought to prevent buyers and sellers from getting accurate information about the performance of individual brokers.,[7] and asserted that the lawsuits had no merit, stating that because the plaintiffs had failed to comply with requirements of the Copyright Act for copyright registration and that information for which the plaintiffs claimed ownership was not subject to copyright.[7][10]

Initial judicial opinions in both cases addressed the issue of what is subject to copyright protection.[7][10] The court upheld NeighborCity’s claim in determining that the MLS listing data does not qualify for copyright protection because facts, including property features such as “main floor full bath” and “whirlpool,” are not protectable works to which the MRIS and Northstar MLS can claim ownership; however, the court found that photographs and property descriptive texts are likely to be copyrightable.[7][10]

In November 2013, a Maryland Federal District court found that NeighborCity “adequately alleged” a conspiracy among multiple MLSs and the National Association of Realtors.[11]

Berkshire Hathaway suit[edit]

In May 2013, Berkshire Hathaway filed a similar lawsuit against NeighborCity.com for reuse of photos from its (subsidiaries') listings without express permission.[12] NeighborCity filed a countersuit claiming anti-competitive practices.

AgentMatch dispute[edit]

In November 2013, NeighborCity sent to realtor.com, operator of Move, Inc., a cease-and-desist letter alleging that Move’s AgentMatch tool infringed on NeighborCity’s trademark of the term “Agent Match” and that the tool potentially infringes on a 2010 patent application filed by NeighborCity.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Carrns, Ann. "New Battle on Providing Real Estate Agent Performance Data". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Masnick, Mike. "Fight Over Real Estate Listings Escalates As NeighborCity Counters Copyright Claims With Antitrust Accusations". TechDirt. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "About NeighborCity". NeighborCity. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Slind-For, Victoria. "Vuitton, Facebook, NeighborCity: Intellectual Property". Bloomberg. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d Restuccia, Paul. "Real estate agent ranking site rankles its neighbors". BostonHerald.com. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "NeighborCity". AngelList. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "MRIS injunction against NeighborCity applies only to photographs". Inman News. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "NeighborCity". CrunchBase. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Brambila, Andrea V. "NeighborCity hit with MLS copyright lawsuits". Inman News. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Fuller, Matt. "Neighborcity.com alleges NAR, MRIS, NorthstarMLS violate anti-trust laws: op/ed". AGBeat. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Neighborcity.com to have its day in court in NAR antitrust suit". Inman. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Mary Dumon (2013-05-22). "Berkshire Sues NeighborCity.com in IP Dispute". Technorati. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  13. ^ "NeighborCity hits Move with cease-and-desist letter over ‘AgentMatch’ tool". Inman News. Retrieved January 11, 2014.