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Machine v. Realtor, making DoJ go away, and staying on the right side of the law

By March 2, 2015 One Comment

Loquacity on machine v. Realtor

As I perused Trulia’s 2014 annual report (just posted on the SEC’s website this morning), I was struck by the staggering amount of data the online real estate giant generates and keeps track of. Trulia says it manages “over one terabyte of data on a daily basis.”

So how does that compare to human data storage capacity, say an everyday Realtor?

Humans have the capacity for “10 terabytes to 100 terabytes of storage, though the full spectrum of guesses ranges from 1 terabyte to 2.5 petabytes. One terabyte is equal to about 1,000 gigabytes or about 1 million megabytes; a petabyte is about 1,000 terabytes,” according to a report by Slate senior editor Forrest Wickman. You with me?

Couple of considerations: Trulia is storing and processing that amount of data daily, which means by the end of the year, the online company stores 365 terabytes, outdoing the Realtor. Oh well.

Now, where does all of that data come from?

  • 114 million properties and 3.1 million homes for sale and “for rent” listings with data from thousands of feeds on a daily basis from 500 multiple listing services.
  • 177,000 real estate professional websites we host.
  • 16.6 million unique user contributions and over 1.4 million topics discussed on Trulia Voices, making it the largest online collection of user-generated content in the U.S. residential real estate market, according to Trulia.
  • A directory that includes more than 2.8 million real estate professionals that is searchable by location, name and type of professional.
  • Let’s not forget the crime, school, mortgage and neighborhood amenities data the San Francisco company aggregates.

And how does this work?

In four data centers in Denver, Colorado; Oakland, California; Santa Clara, California; and Bellevue, Washington, Trulia processes this data trove through its “proprietary algorithms and heuristic data validation engine to sort, augment, and select the most up-to-date and accurate data to display.” Still with me?

Just like your brain, right? Right (you pick the tone).

Not too big to pay

Did you hear the news that Morgan Stanley will shell out $2.6 billion to end a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into its mortgage-backed-securities deals?

Now, let me understand this, or, better yet, let me imagine an unlikely criminal scenario. Let’s suppose that I was being investigated for robbing a Wal-Mart store. I go to the police, give them $10,000 and they stop investigating me. Are you kidding?

This feels like a breakdown in the rule of law, right?

More on scruples

My dad used to jokingly say that when he read the newspaper he would quickly turn the page when he saw a headline about the IRS or heart disease.

For my near and dear Inman readers, if you skipped over Teke Wiggin’s story on following the laws when buying and selling leads, just do me a favor and read the salient parts below:


The Truth Detector

TruthDetectorApp Now, if all of this talk about ethics, the law and truth remains puzzling to you, there is an app for that: The Truth Detector App. Here’s how it works:

Touch the screen with your thumb and start talking. The Truth Detector will reveal whether you are lying or telling the truth! Now, try it on your 16-year-old son, or your broker, or your agent, or your buyer or your seller, or, better yet, your big portal sales rep!

May the truth be with you!

Email Brad Inman.

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