Open Letter To Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, and Zillow, Encouraging Data Standards

Jan 2, 2008 Michael Wurzer

In the spirit of the New Year and as the newly-elected Chair of the Real Estate Standards Organization, I write this open letter to Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, Zillow, and all other sites seeking listing data from brokers. My purpose in writing is to encourage all of you to join together with the real estate community in supporting the Real Estate Transaction Standard (“RETS”). By focusing on a standardized data format together, we can make it easier for brokers who want to send their listings to your site to do so without duplicate data entry and extra expense in dealing with different data formats for each of your sites. We also can increase the accuracy and timeliness of the data being maintained on your sites.

The reason I recommend the Real Estate Transaction Standard to you is that the RETS community has already worked hard over the last few years developing detailed schema for listing and property information that can be leveraged to solve this problem quickly. The schema has been and continues to be developed with input from a broad cross-section of real estate brokers, franchises, associations, and their technology partners, including MLS vendors, IDX vendors, transaction management and electronic forms vendors, and others.

This vibrant community also welcomes your input as to how the schema can be adopted to your particular needs, such as providing a lighter payload like IDX. The RESO Board also recently chartered a new Transport Work Group to allow the new schema to be integrated into the already widely-deployed RETS 1.x systems and to create a new RESTful RETS implementation. The RETS community would welcome your participation in these and other efforts.

The goal we have is simple: Create standards that provide brokers efficient control over their listing data. With a single standard being widely adopted across the industry, brokers will be able to enter listings once and deliver them when and where they want, including your sites. This presents the opportunity for a classic win-win-win. The brokers win, you win, and the technology vendors serving the brokers in their data syndication plans win.

The time is right for all of us working in real estate technology to come together. The schema being developed in the RETS community is well-developed, with the remaining pieces scheduled to be finalized this April at the next trimester meeting in Philadelphia. This means there is an excellent opportunity for us to work together over the next few months to make sure the schema meet your needs. The RETS community is very energized to create lasting solutions for all those using listing data, including your organizations. Further evidence of the energy surrounding RETS is the recent adoption by the NAR MLS Committee of a new policy requiring all MLSs to adopt RETS by June 2009. As mentioned above, the vast majority of MLSs already support RETS and this new MLS policy, combined with your adoption, will help ensure that the most efficient data standards are both developed and adopted across the industry, which, of course, is the purpose of a standard.

The days of duplicate data entry caused by proprietary data formats can come to an end if we work together for the benefit of the data creators and owners. I will be at Inman Connect in New York next week and would very much like to meet with you to see if you’re interested in working together. You can contact me at mwurzer-at-fbsdata-dot-com and let me know if you’re interested in getting together at Inman or any other time.

Michael Wurzer, Chair
Real Estate Standards Organization