I am often surprised at the low percentage of REALTORS (or industry members for that matter) who know about the benefits of RETS. The recent CRT Survey shows that adoption of RETS in the industry is accelerating (currently 63% of all MLSs), but the awareness by REALTORS if RETS is available is extremely low (a whopping 4%).
Now, RETS on the lowest level is a technical specification, and understanding it at that level isn’t the intent. Understanding what it means to the industry, how it can streamline the way listings are pushed from system to system, and more importantly how it effects the services and applications which are built for the REALTOR membership is something that we can not stress enough.
The latest effort with the RETS committee is to standardize how a listing is defined from a data standpoint – known as a data schema or payload. This can serve the industry outside of RETS itself. Broker back-office systems could accept this format, and therefore create that one point of listing entry. Once the listing is in the system, it can be transfered to the marketing department and imported into their advertising system, re-formatted and sent to the different listing syndication services, and finally available at the time of transaction.
Because this standardization is so integral, it can also be used to allow MLSs to regionalize and share data between overlapping markets. Giving the agent a one source search solution for effectively servicing their clients.
This data standardization isn’t an easy task, and the RETS committee is looking for input from all areas that would generate, use or consume this data. For the past 6 months, they have been meeting about once a month to go over the intricacies that different MLSs have adopted in defining their data structure, such as what is a team or what exactly 2.6 baths means. These meetings are open invite, and participation is more than welcome. The next meeting is in Boston on Sept 12/13. More information can be found/requested on the New RETS Forums (which will be a post on its own).
Now, these meetings aren’t for the faint of heart. For a much more nuts-n-bolt discussion of RETS and how to use it effectively in your online strategy, check out the 2007 CRT Tech Intensive sessions at this years REALTOR EXPO in Vegas – good excuse to come meet us:
API’s, RETS and Mashups
Creating a RETS Powered Website
We also recommend you speaking to your local association/board and MLS to determine if RETS is available to you, and what it will take for you to start to take advantage of this data sharing secret.