Posting your listings online should be a standard procedure. And from a marketing point of view, the more places a listing appears, the better. The downside is that if you want your listings on half a dozen sites, you have to enter listings manually to each site or invest money in developing an automated system. And if the price changes, you need to update each site individually. So even if you want your listings everywhere online, the amount of time you have to invest in posting and updating often makes widespread listing aggregation more trouble than it’s worth.
Fortunately, some powerhouses in the listing aggregation realm recognized this problem, too. In January 2008, Google, Yahoo, Zillow, and Trulia began working together to create a single, standardized feed that would facilitate the marketing and advertising of properties on multiple Web sites. And with help from the National Association of REALTORS(R) and the newly formed Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), they’ve achieved their goal in record time.
The key to making this a reality was to determine which data elements create the basic feed for each site, and then create a specification around that. The final specification contains fewer than two dozen required fields and only about 100 fields in total. To make it more robust, the specification very closely parallels, and draws from where possible, the existing Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) Data Schema developed by RESO in conjunction with MLS vendors and other industry stakeholders. However, this RETS schema is much more comprehensive, containing more than 1,000 data fields.
Already the new standard is having an effect. More than a dozen other listing sites and vendors have joined the RETS syndication workgroup, and will begin accepting or implementing this universal listing feed. For real estate practitioners, this means that adding or changing property information only has to be done in one place, and it reaches all participating sites. You save time, and prospective buyers always have the most current and accurate property information.
In time, the new syndication specification could also be adopted by MLS systems. If this occurs, the MLS could become the single point of data transfer to all listing sites —similar to how listings are fed to REALTOR.com, but across a much broader scope of sites.
Taking this one step further, is a joint project between CRT and New England based MLSPIN in developing a simpler data exchange method geared more for listing syndication than RETS. This work is very similar to the wildly successful and easily implemented data transfer which sites such as Trulia and Zillow have been working with for the last couple years.
The goal of the RETS Syndication Specification and a new streamlined data exchange method is to minimize the time and effort needed to transfer listings geared around advertising and marketing. This ultimately increases listing exposure while reducing technology burden and cost.