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Marty Frame and Dale Ross Answer a Few Questions from Vendors

Nov 19, 2009 Michael Wurzer

I attended a presentation from Dale Ross and Marty Frame to a variety of MLS and public records software vendors last Sunday at the NAR Convention in San Diego.  Here are a few points I took away from the Q&A session:

  • No Focus on Data Standards for MLSs.  In response to my question as to whether RPR would be promoting a data standard for MLSs, Marty said something like they didn’t want to be a RETS enforcer.  I’m not completely sure what that means but if Marty intended for RPR to help with data standards, he likely would have said so.  Instead he said it wasn’t part of their plan and they’re primarily focused on about 120 data fields or so.
  • No Help For MLSs With Overlapping Market Disorder or Those Who Want to Data Share.  In response to my question as to whether RPR would be helping MLSs resolve overlapping market disorder in their area by serving as a data exchange/repository, Marty said no, that wasn’t in the plan either.  Of course, users can come to the RPR interface and see data from participating MLSs but there isn’t a plan for an API (RETS or otherwise) to allow MLSs to retrieve aggregate data even if the MLSs in the area agree to such an exchange.
  • No Authoritative Record.  In response to my question as to whether RPR will be establishing an authoritative record from the various sources of data (public records, MLS, loans, etc.), Marty said no.  RPR will present the various sources of data side by side but they won’t try to reconcile them.  I think this fact makes their claim of being a “property-centric” system a bit off target.  My understanding of property-centric systems is that they do, in fact, establish an authoritative record from the many sources — they combine the best data to provide a long-term repository of property information, instead of just displaying disparate data side-by-side.  The scenario I posed was as follows:
    • Agent Smith creates a new listing on January 1 and auto-pops the listing from the RPR tax record, and then corrects the square footage, which is off by a significant amount.
    • Agent Smith’s listing expires March 30.
    • Agent Jones lists the same property on April 1 and again auto-populates the listing from the tax record.  Agent Jones will again have to correct the square footage coming from the RPR public records because there isn’t a base or authoritative record available from RPR.
  • Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) — (Note: An API is a way two systems (such as RPR and the MLS or a broker back-office system) can talk to each other.)
    • Marty said there will be an API for the public records and MLSs will be able to pull the public records into their own system.  MLS systems also will be able to link to the PDF market and listing reports (though they won’t be available in HTML, just PDF).
    • RPR hopes MLSs will help RPR with authentication by using single sign-on (SSO) standards, though they’ll adapt to whatever the MLS will provide.
    • There will not be an API for any of the third-party licensed data (including listings), just the public records.  If you want to see the other data, you must login to RPR.
    • API documentation should become available in the next 30 days or so.

There were questions from other vendors as well about the APIs and the business model, but the above were the highlights for me.  I walked away from the meeting thinking they were missing a lot of the potential for how a system like RPR could help MLSs and their broker and agent members.  Helping MLSs improve data quality, data standards, and data sharing are all key benefits not being addressed by RPR. Hopefully this will change over the coming months as MLSs negotiate licenses with RPR and require that these issues be part of the deal.

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Related and recent posts RPR by others:

Brian Larson — Report of RPRs Birth Is An Exaggeration

Rob Hahn — No More Drama and Hype: Known Facts on RPR

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P.S.  Can I please request that all NAR conventions from here on out be in San Diego?  What a perfect location, with a great convention center, great hotels nearby, awesome restaurants, entertainment, and, of course, the views and weather!