In a move that may have been predicated by its recent settlement agreement with the California Department of Insurance, the First American Corporation announced Monday that it has launched MarketLinx, a new company that will address the full range of information technology needs for residential real estate professionals. The new company will combine First American MLS Solutions, Inc., Offutt Systems, Sonic Eagle, Inc. and Lucero Research Corporation to deliver technology solutions for multiple listing services, brokers and agents. Offutt, Sonic Eagle, and Lucero were acquired by First American in the back half of 2006. Last week, Housing Wire reported that the real estate and title services giant had entered into a $10 million settlement agreement with the California Department of Insurance over claims of illegal marketing practices, including allegations that the company was providing free, non title-related marketing and technology services to agents and brokers in exchange for the referral of business.
While First American had no comment regarding a potential connection between its January settlement and the launch of MarketLinx, several industry observers have told Housing Wire they believe the company is seeking to avoid future potential litigation in other states as well as ensure it meets the stipulations set forth in the California settlement agreement. By moving its agent-facing businesses into a subsidiary operation, First American can potentially avoid future scrutiny, sources have said. Irrespective of the alleged connection, First American says it established MarketLinx to better integrate its offerings to the residential real estate industry. “Our long-term strategy is centered on the development of a complete, online real estate platform that provides an integrated set of components to perform all of the functions that are important in a residential property transaction,” said Stephen C. Roney, president and chief executive officer of MarketLinx. “Merging the technology and software assets of these companies into one organization offers ease-of-use for the real estate professional, who can now order several core products and services from one entity rather than multiple providers. The end result is an enterprise solution that offers the same high levels of service, while producing significant efficiencies for our customers.” MarketLinx offers a full line of technology and support services through systems currently used by more than half a million real estate professionals nationwide. Products and services include the MLXchange, TEMPO and InnoVia MLS systems and related association solutions; AgentAchieve, a Web-based software solution that provides best-in-class broker business management and agent productivity tools; and Lucero Summit residential real estate office management software systems. First American said that MarketLinx will operate under the direction of the existing First American MLS Solutions, Offutt Systems, Sonic Eagle and Lucero management teams, led by MarketLinx executive vice presidents Bryan Foreman, Mike Lancaster and Leonard Troutner, all reporting directly to Roney. Foreman will also continue in his role as president of MLS operations. For more information, visit http://www.marketlinx.com.