Does MLS Need to Change More Quickly?


Image via Music4Freedom

CRT began advocating APIs for the industry in 2008. The first group we approached was RESO. We believed that the MLS community had the mode to gain from this approach. Unfortunately, we misjudged the audience and were not prepared for the push back from the community. The concept was too shocking, even for the technical side of the industry.

Over time, we repackaged our advocacy with names like “RESTFul” and “modernization” and continued the push. At one point, I was beginning to get discouraged. I presented a slide at an industry event recounting the Luddites to send a message to the community about the dangers of resisting change.

Label our API advocacy efforts with whimsical definitions if you would like, but each campaign in the MLS community has a slightly different approach. Even with “sloth-like” progress towards an API for MLS, a few players began to warm up to the concept in 2011. With this seed planted our thoughts turned to the Association Management space.

Making progress with API in the Association space was easy and there are many reasons for this. The most important is the without an established transfer mechanism in place (like RETS for MLS), there were no incumbent approaches to displace. The system selection adage “Build versus Buy” was quickly replaced with the manta “Build, Buy or Assemble”. APIs are allowing Associations to assemble solutions from multiple vendor offerings.

I have always been a fan of home automation and I was pleased to see both Apple and Google announce APIs for the Smart Home. Apple has HomeKit and Google has the Nest API. The Nest API is more mature than HomeKit and is built with FireBase. It is intended to tie together cameras, thermostats and other Smart Home devices. A good way to distinguish between the two technologies is to think of HomeKit as “gets the device to talk to the network” and FireBase as “allows devices to exchange information with each other”.

Looking at these three parts of our industry (Homes, Association and MLS), it is interesting that they share an important point of technical similarity. The JSON format is used for device-to-device transmission in all three:

  • Association – RAMCO – JSON
  • Home Automation – FireBase – JSON

We believe that JSON will be a player in supporting mobile and wearable devices as well. Consumers are going there and members will go to where the consumers are. Not only will the nature of search change, but the information delivery will need to change to something swift like JSON.

Let us all help the MLS community become more accepting of change. The industry cannot become known as a community that refuses to deal with reality.

  1. Matt Cohen

    Mark, I think the push-back in 2008 was because MLSs were still in the midst of the great RETS 1.x compliance push of 2007-2008. Tremendous effort was going toward getting that standard adopted, and the idea of trying to encourage adoption of a whole new thing fell on ears that were not deaf, but perhaps tired. Further, while your efforts were admirable, I don’t think we (you, me, others) did an ideal job of explaining the business benefits to any stakeholder that would have contributed to the development of the new API, let alone its adoption. Thankfully, times have changed. The compliance push of 2007-2008 is well behind us, and RESO is better organized both to develop and push for adoption of API standards. I’m liking where this is going!

  2. Maybe JSON one day opens up greater data indexed search across waters from MLSs in some countries to agents in other countries. Gosh another schema 🙂