The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sep 16, 2007 Michael Wurzer

I love Clint Eastwood movies, and so really enjoyed reading Robbie Paplin’s recent post A Fistful of Feeds, riffing on the MLS data syndication issue. To summarize Robbie’s post, he suggests that Zillow’s new data feed definition (PDF) for sending them listings may become the de facto industry standard as it embraces and extends the already popular Trulia data feed format (PDF).

Here’s the problem with that argument: Both Zillow and Trulia are first and foremost advertising platforms. As such, the data they are tracking is minimal and a pale version of what is necessary for MLS systems, transaction management systems, and other purposes beyond mere advertising. Robbie mentions the Real Estate Transaction Standard schemas and suggests that Zillow’s may be comparable, but that just isn’t the case. Not even close.

Seriously, what should happen here is that Zillow and Trulia and others wanting to process real estate listing data in a standard way should be coming to the RETS schema work group meetings. The meetings are open to whoever wants to contribute. Usually there are around twenty of us in the room and it’s a hard-working, collegial group. We’d definitely welcome participation from Zillow and Trulia, or anyone else wanting to make the standards better.

There’s a certain irony here with Zillow trying to outdo Trulia with their own “standards” while at the same time the MLSs and Associations that get castigated so frequently for being “closed” and “walled gardens” are holding regular and open meetings to create data standards. Also interesting is that the Trulia and Zillow data feed options could be expressed as specific payloads within the RETS schema itself. So, the standards being developed by the RETS community are already open to the Trulia and Zillow feed formats. So, if anyone from Trulia or Zillow or others are reading, please come join the RETS schema work group in Calgary in October or in Las Vegas in November or in Miami in December. Your participation will be welcomed!