CLAW Responds!

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last couple of days, you’ll know that on Thursday I wrote a post entitled “Why Won’t CLAW Give Us the Square Footage?” CLAW is the Combined L.A./Westside Multiple Listing Service, and, unlike other MLSs, it does not include square footage or lot size in listings on its Web site, themls.com, or in feeds that it sends to consumer sites such as Redfin, Realtor.com and others.

The post generated an unprecedented number of comments on Redfin and dozens more on Curbed L.A.  The commentary continued on Friday, when I published a follow-up post.  As I suspected, I wasn’t the only one frustrated by CLAW’s omissions.

On Friday afternoon, CLAW responded by posting a comment on Thursday’s post.  I’m repeating it here in its entirety.quote1.jpg

I’ve been following this post and since I work for CLAW MLS, I’d like to respond to some issues and concerns raised in the post and in the comments.

First of all, do you know who you have spoken with or which e-mail address have you used?

Secondly, as far as Redfin and square footage is concerned: this is an issue that you have to take up with Redfin, not us. We provide numerous data feeds to various organizations/websites and I don’t believe that Redfin specifically requested to receive square footage as part of their feed. We provide this data when asked for it. If your company submits this request via proper channels it will be reviewed and addressed in an expedient manner.

In more generic terms as far as data availability at http://guests.themls.com and other sites, please do keep in mind that our organization primarily serves our membership and we do have to respond to their needs and wishes. The guest site is important to us and we want to make it a valuable destination and an important resource for the public; however we do have to balance interests of buying and listing agents, brokers and general public.

Having said that, we are currently working on redesigning the guest site and we are exploring possibilities where we may include additional information with the listings. Hopefully you will find that it is vastly improved both from a design/experience perspective and the information that it makes available.

Regardless of where you may stand on this particular subject, we do appreciate concerns and suggestions that you may have. We consistently monitor a number of blogs as well as other resources for feedback from agents as well as general public.

We do want to interact with our users and we’ll try to be a more frequent presence on these pages. In the mean time, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at blogreply@themls.com

Thanks

A few responses to the response:

[D]o you know who you have spoken with or which e-mail address have you used?

Yes; I’ve provided the details in a comment after the Thursday post, following the CLAW comment. As I reported in the Thursday post, I contacted three different CLAW officials over a two-week period and got no response.

[A]s far as Redfin and square footage is concerned: this is an issue that you have to take up with Redfin, not us. We provide numerous data feeds to various organizations/websites and I don’t believe that Redfin specifically requested to receive square footage as part of their feed. We provide this data when asked for it. If your company submits this request via proper channels it will be reviewed and addressed in an expedient manner.

Really?  To my knowledge, no other publicly accessible site — including CLAW’s own site, themls.com – posts CLAW listings with square footage and lot size.  Yet if we had asked, CLAW would have given this information to Redfin exclusively? 

I put in a call to Redfin’s Seattle headquarters and spoke to Bryan Selner, Redfin’s director of product management.  This was news to him, too. He said that the MLSs Redfin deals with simply hand over the publicly accessible feed; CLAW was no exception. (Check out Bryan’s comment on the blog, after the CLAW comment.)

Nonetheless, Bryan told me, if CLAW is saying that all we have to do is ask….well, we’re asking!  Bryan said he will be submitting a formal request to CLAW for the missing info. In fact, he’s probably done it already.

– In more generic terms as far as data availability at http://guests.themls.com and other sites, please do keep in mind that our organization primarily serves our membership and we do have to respond to their needs and wishes.

Wait…is CLAW implying that if its members don’t want to release square footage and lot size, it won’t?  This seems to contradict what was said in the previous paragraph.  I’m confused.

– [W]e are currently working on redesigning the guest site and we are exploring possibilities where we may include additional information with the listings.

That’s great news.

– We do want to interact with our users and we’ll try to be a more frequent presence on these pages. In the mean time, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at blogreply@themls.com

I hope everyone who has commented over the past few days (thanks again) will take the opportunity to express their views to CLAW at the above email address.

I appreciate CLAW’s response and look forward to the changes.

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  • http://www.planomatic.com Kori Covrigaru

    Cindy,

    I took the liberty of asking a handful of my clients in the Los Angeles area what they make of the data limitations. Their answer in my words:

    There seemed to have been a huge controversy in categorizing square footage in Los Angeles. Categorizing whether the square footage was “under air” or “exterior” which would make a huge difference in size and may become a liability. For example, a summer kitchen, very fine line whether that’s inside or out.

    Apparently, “many lawsuits” were filed during the recent real estate boom in the area. I bet if you look back far enough, maybe they did release this information to feeds such as Realtor.com. I think with the protection in real estate law today, this is no reason to withhold valuable information, especially with every disclaimer that pops up on your screen for every click you make on a real estate website.

    Your thoughts?

    Best,

    Kori Covrigaru, CEO of PlanOmatic
    http://www.planomatic.com

  • http://losangeles.redfin.com/blog/author/cindy.allen Cindy Allen

    Hi, Kori,

    Several people have posted about the lawsuit issue. Maybe some other agents can weigh in. I knew someone once who put in an offer on a home that was said to be 3,100 sf and, when it was appraised, it turned out to be 2,700. It was so early in the process she could have just backed out if she had wanted to. But aren’t all appraisals conducted early in the process — early enough so mistakes can be discovered before any damage has been done?

    There do seem to be many disclaimers that agents can protect themselves with. Maybe the withdrawal of square footage was a knee-jerk reaction that has never been remedied. I’d like to hear from agents in other MLSs as to how they’ve dealt with this problem, because I don’t know of any besides CLAW that have withheld this information.

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