More Progress on Data Standards

Mar 24, 2010 Michael Wurzer

As I wrote following the last RETS meeting, the Cove Group (a group of the largest MLSs in the country) has moved forward to submit a new list of standard field names to be used as part of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS).  This new list of standard field names was approved today during the RESO meeting in Chicago.  The list of field names is optional for MLSs currently, but the RESO group anticipates the field names becoming a required part of the standard in the future.  This is a good step toward creating data standards across all MLSs.

Another good step forward was Mark Lesswing, NAR’s CTO, coming out today in support of data standards across all MLSs.  Mark would love to see the RETS no longer need metadata, which currently is necessary because each MLS has its own data definitions.  If the data were all the same for every MLS (i.e., we had data standards), metadata would no longer be needed, innovation would be enhanced, data updates would be faster and more efficient, and fewer server resources would be needed.

Having an incredibly smart and prominent person like Mark advocating for data standards (Mark used the term “data dictionary”) is a great development and I look forward to hearing him speak about it more in the future.  Combining Mark’s advocacy with the efforts from the COVE Group and others greatly increases the chances of creating standards that can lead us into the future.

The above is the good news.  The bad news is that I overheard that some previous supporters of the RETS will no longer be participating in the meetings.  I’m not aware of the reasons behind this decision but it’s disheartening just as the group seems to be making some progress on the critical piece of data standards.

Another piece of bad news is that the RESO still has not yet finalized an intellectual property (IP) policy to ensure that the RETS may be freely used by developers, brokers, agents, MLSs, Associations, etc.   Pat Bybee (current RESO Chair) stated that Laurie Janek, NAR’s General Counsel, has committed to getting these issues resolved soon, but Laurie hasn’t yet provided a firm schedule for getting this in place.  Having such a policy in place is critical to any standards effort, and was a core reason for starting the RESO process over two years ago.  The original draft of the RESO IP policy has been around since August 2007, and it will be great to see the policy get finalized.