Real estate's next disruptor may roll out on the Ethereum blockchain. REX plans to host a decentralized multiple listing service (MLS).
In a blog post, REX said the real estate listing market is governed by digital listing services that provide both agents and consumers with access to a marketplace, but does so at a great cost, with average user subscription fees at $250 per month. These centralized databases function without interoperability and provide poor incentives for content providers, aside from being the only game in town.
According to REX's post, "The MLS is a superb example of these asymmetric benefits. They are comprised of prodigious databases that silo information and dictate price back to the content provider (listee)."
The Ethereum blockchain presents a method for decentralizing data that REX wants to capitalize on. Co-founder Stephen King told ETHNews about how he and REX’s other co-founder, Russell McLernon, settled upon Ethereum.
“Russell and I were working separately on how to disintermediate real estate data dissemination with pre-blockchain technologies. In 2015, we were both active in the Ethereum community and met serendipitously through another user’s post. We began discussing the benefits that Ethereum and IPFS [InterPlanetary File System] could provide to real estate and a potential solution to the obstacles we were trying to solve.”
He went on to say, “We chose Ethereum because of the technology, community and team.”
REX decided to build and scale a global MLS on the Ethereum blockchain, IPFS, and ElasticSearch. These protocols come together through open source components composed in Nodejs and Go programming languages. REX will also implement machine learning and crowdsourced data to curate leads in the MLS. A transaction layer will be integrated utilizing REX tokens, which will be ERC20 compliant.
Listing rewards will take the form of REX tokens to incentivize global participation, and will be distributed to verified users who upload listings to the database. Tokens can also be turned in as a medium of exchange to access a number of features that include listing promotions, market sponsorships, data exchange, and advertising. REX also plans for these tokens to be tradeable on exchanges as a vehicle for storing value, similar to other ERC20 tokens. In order to combat spam, REX said it will require a minimum fee, 10 – 20 cents worth of REX tokens, which should reduce data dumps onto the platform. ETHNews has also learned that profile and sponsorship costs will be similarly low.
REX tokens will also be used to create profiles on the platform and generate market sponsorships. According to the company, "Users pay REX tokens to establish professional broker profiles that are searchable in the database and to sponsor markets around the world (ie New York City). REX tokens that are collected through Broker Profiles/Market Sponsorships will be redistributed into the Listing Rewards Contract."
REX breaks down some of the components of the MLS in its whitepaper. The raw database will be decentralized and those providing listings will retain ownership of their content. Each verified listing results in a REX disbursement to the submitting user. REX breaks it down simply: "Traditional MLS’ make money from collecting user data and charging a fee to publish it to the platform. The user creates the value (data) but the MLS is the beneficiary. On REX, the user owns the data and is compensated for their contributions: The more listings a user publishes, the more rewards they earn."
REX said it will use a Proof of Approvals (PoA) system to verify listings that are posted by non-owners, requiring the posters to provide evidence that they are authorized on a landlord or broker's behalf. If a user submits multiple listings without PoAs, those listings won't be eligible for Listing Rewards and the user may risk losing their verified status.
According to King the service will be web browser compatible with mobile. “We built two UI's for users to interact with the engine: 1. Open source 2. Proprietary,” said King. “The open source doesn't require an API and the proprietary UI will have an API/Integration capabilities.”
REX is engaged in outreach and hopes the community can contribute and build upon the open source UI. Users interested in engaging with REX may visit its website and are encouraged to read the company's whitepaper.
“REX, like Ethereum, is a long-term project that will take time to scale and grow,” said King. “Russell and I are excited with the progress we have made over the last 18 months, overcoming many challenges. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work on REX and participate in both the Ethereum and real estate communities.”