Following my open letter, representatives from Google, Trulia, Zillow and Yahoo! contacted me and it looks like we’re going to be able to get together next week during the Inman conference. Cool. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to discuss RETS with them.
In anticipation of that meeting, I’m wondering: Do brokers care about RETS? This is a good question that’s already come up in earlier discussions I’ve had with David Gibbons from Zillow, who made the point that their broker clients aren’t asking them to support RETS. This is a good point David makes and points to the fact that, until recently, RETS was more focused on moving listing data around than it was on making sure the listing data was standardized. With the development of the listing and property schema, however, RETS now offers the potential to solve many of the core problems brokers face regularly. In this regard, I think brokers care about RETS in the same way they care about how electricity gets to their office. In other words, they don’t care, as long as it gets the job done, and the job is:
- Entering their listings only once.
- Sending their listings to just the sites they want, easily.
- Not having to pay someone to manage a bunch of data feeds.
- Making sure their listings are updated right away when something changes.
- Not getting calls or e-mails on listings that are already sold or expired.
- Getting calls or e-mails on listings as soon as the data is entered.
All of these issues can be addressed by broad adoption of listing data standards. For example, coming from my perspective as an MLS software vendor, would the brokers reading this post like it if you could check a box in your MLS system to have the listings you choose automatically sent to whatever site you want without duplicate entry? Would you like it if that listing was then updated automatically on all of your selected sites as soon as the status or price changed in the MLS without you having to do anything?
If you answered yes to these questions, then I think you care about RETS, because a common listing data exchange standard will make developing these kinds of tools much easier. Also, focusing on RETS as the listing standard for the industry is important because it already has a great deal of investment behind it. Hundreds of MLSs already have RETS servers running and delivering data for IDX, Realtor.com and many other purposes. There are many MLS regionalization efforts underway right now with the new RETS data schema at the core of the effort. One of the core purposes of these regionalization efforts is to eliminate duplicate data entry of listings. Extending this same effort to the duplicate data entry or processing that’s happening right now with syndication to advertising web sites seems to make sense as well. In other words, RETS is not just about the MLS but is about giving brokers more control over their listing data.
So, do brokers care about RETS?