The Real Estate Standards Association (RESO) held their Spring 2011 Conference earlier this month. This group manages the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) that MLS, brokers, vendors, etc. use in our industry to exchange information electronically. The event was well attended by real estate industry vendors, MLS and NAR staff. I’d still like to see greater broker or agent participation (I only saw one broker in attendance). Two interesting developments occurred at the conference that brokers and agents should watch for further developments in 2011.
NAR showed foresight and vision when they originally sponsored and helped implement the RETS standard about ten years ago. This standard enabled an easier exchange of information between various vendor products, broker and agent websites, MLS, etc. But like many other technology products or standards, changing market conditions often call for a different approach or better technologies. Last summer, I highlighted in a letter to Inman News some of the limitations inherent in the current RETS standard. These limitations include:
- Lack of measurable cost savings & benefits: Using RETS is more costly than it should be, mostly due to the high level of technical support needed to implement and operate the standard. A data standard that lowers operating costs would show real ROI to the industry participants.
- No true standardization of data: While RETS standardizes data transport, it’s not quite a true industry standard for the actual data being sent. Small discrepancies within thousands of data fields can raise costs while slowing implementation for brokers, agents, MLS, etc. Time is money – implementing new products, getting the work done sooner means your revenues can increase sooner.
- Stronger governance and compliance: RETS is promoted as a standard for our industry, but is not mandatory. Further, different versions exist. The resulting level of complexity does nothing to reduce operating costs or ease the way to better compliance by our vendors.
During the 2011 RESO Spring Conference, the two developments to watch are:
- A potential new governance model. Several ideas were being discussed for RESO that could allow greater participation by MLS, brokers and agents in setting the direction of the RETS standard. That’s right – you could help choose what you need most in the next standard! In today’s difficult economic climate, providing strong business-oriented direction that generates measurable benefits and/or cost savings is welcome news.
- A potential “next generation” design for RETS. Topics being discussed included specific data standards that could be used for IDX feeds, listing syndication, etc. This approach could speed deployment when implementing new products and help drive revenue growth.
Summary: Watch for upcoming announcements later this year regarding the latest developments at RESO. You may want to consider participating in a revised RESO organization and provide feedback regarding new capabilities needed in the RETS standard to help your business.