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RealtyTrac has provided data and analytics on foreclosed properties for decades, but the company’s recent entrance into the tax deed and mortgage data licensing business is a game-changer, expanding its ability to provide a 360-degree view of a property for its clients.

“Everyone is looking to find something that helps them predict a value change in the future,” said Brian Mushaney, executive vice president of data solutions for RealtyTrac. “We have a huge advantage because we’ve taken the typical tax deed and mortgage data offered by other companies and added the other factors in a neighborhood that can affect the value of a property.”

Those other factors include census data, flood data, hazard data, crime data and school reporting, which RealtyTrac combines into a comprehensive, proprietary data set. This information is vital to understanding how the neighborhood is trending, Mushaney said.

“We are capturing data points that will affect the future value of homes. A deed provides information about the sale of a property, but it’s information that is going backwards. There are so many other factors that will affect the price of a home — whether positive or negative — and that’s what our clients need,” he said.

Lenders and homebuyers aren’t the only ones benefitting from that focus on the future. The audience for RealtyTrac’s property data on over 129 million homes includes big and small investors, hedge funds, insurance companies, financial services firms and even the federal government. And data is only one part of what the company offers.

“With our portfolio analytics we take a comprehensive look at the data, adding multiple data points to a loan pool, which gives our clients insight into what could potentially happen to a particular pool of loans. 

“That gives them a better ability to price a portfolio they are looking to acquire,” Mushaney said. “For a portfolio they already own, it can show them what could potentially go wrong, or how they could maximize the profitability of a loan pool.”

As a new licenser of tax deed and mortgage data — the FTC issued a consent order in March — RealtyTrac avoids some of the problems faced by companies who have been in the space longer, and it can expand into new opportunities.

“We’re brand new to this marketplace and we don’t have the same channel conflicts or client-specific conflict,” Mushaney said. “There are lots of people out there with smart ideas and we want to enable them to get their smart ideas into the marketplace.“

That marketplace has seen a lot of changes recently, including the way data is managed, Mushaney said. RealtyTrac sees clients as partners, not just vendors, and looks for ways to solve problems for them.

“It’s not about handing them data and just walking away. We look at how we can provide a service that makes their job easier and that means helping them build a better database,” he said. “We collaborate with them and ask, ‘What additional data points are you having to go and get on your own? Is there data you haven’t been able to find?’”

RealtyTrac sees tracking down more and better data as central to its mission. “There’s a lot of talk about ‘big data’ in the market, and sometimes data is viewed as looking for the negative, but it can also show how a neighborhood is increasing in value.

“We are a ‘bigger data’ company — tomorrow we want our data to be bigger than it is today. We are always finding new data pieces to share with our clients.”

And clients return the favor.

“Our clients are putting this data to use in new and creative ways. As they give us feedback on new data fields, we find them and we expose that for our clients. We are the building blocks to those vendors building better products. It’s a collaborative partnership,” Mushaney said.

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