Crime Data Doesn’t Pay
More is not better. In fact – more is worse.
Frequently, we talk with executives of large real estate, mortgage and software companies about their desires to ramp up their data. They have the mindset of “we have all this data, we should use it” or “we should get all the data and become unstoppable”.
But this week, we’ve seen 3 significant players take a different approach. The latest, is Trulia (owned by Zillow) who yesterday declared that they would not be displaying crime data going forward. Previously this week Redfin and Realtor.com announced they would also be removing crime data.
These 3 platforms likely realized 3 things:
a) that the additional seo they gained by hosting the content didn’t drive that much valuable traffic
b) they were negatively impacting some neighborhoods by revealing crime information
c) crime data is biased
When it comes to neighborhood data – there is a ton out there. But the VAST majority is negative. People complaining, police reports, city waste and sanitation issues, flood reports, pothole data, noise enforcement … it’s all negative. However, there’s not a kindness database. There is nowhere to allow people to report who let someone merge in front of their car, held open the door or walked an old person across the street. So it’s sad to say, but that data is nonexistent.
As a result – more data frequently equals more negativity. Negative data does not sell homes – but neither does a lack of data. A lack of data reduces peoples time on site, reduces the seo of a page/site and reduces ad revenue / lead gen revenue.
FWIW Revaluate stopped using crime and neighborhood data in late 2016. We also wrote down our pledge to do good with data, and end Data Discrimination. This month Realtor.com CEO David Doctorow wrote “we removed the crime map layer from all search results on Realtor.com to rethink the safety information we share on Realtor.com and how we can best integrate it as part of a consumer’s home search experience.” This was written in a post with an invitation for the broader real estate industry to address fair housing together.
Redlining and neighborhood segregation are obviously issues that are fundamentally real estate industry issues. We’ve written much about this in the last year including this about NAR Racism and The Senate and unfortunately it’s very much still an issue today.
But there’s another reason that more is not better – and we help people every day with this. Analysis paralysis. More data is a problem because people being people want to comb through it and look at it – but it leads to a lack of decision.
That’s at the core of Revaluate. We process lots of data, (including: death, divorce, diapers, diplomas, downsizing, discretionary income, the daily grind… even dumpsters) and boil it down to an actionable score to help generate leads. Our clients use that propensity to move score to automatically trigger marketing campaigns and events.
So in lead gen, and real estate sales, crime data doesn’t pay and more data can be more of a problem as it reduces efficiency. If the goal is to increase sales, more data can actually reduce sales. Automation is key to greater efficiency and additional sales and is only beneficial when you can have score trigger (like a Revaluate propensity to move score) that triggers a process automatically. With better automation, and integrated systems, our top performing clients are making additional sales growth while improving people’s lives at the same time by removing biased humans from the process.