Selection of apps for agents could grow if MLSs start using the same definitions

RESO updates dictionary of MLS data definitions

A nonprofit that aims to foster software innovation and improve efficiency in real estate transactions has released the latest version of what it calls the industry’s “Rosetta Stone” for data.

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) adopted its “Data Dictionary” last year. The dictionary is a standardized set of data terms for the most common descriptions of property characteristics used by industry players. Its goal is to make real estate data more accurate, consistent, and accessible so that technology vendors can develop streamlined “plug and play” tools for use by any of the nation’s more than 900 multiple listing services that adopt the standards.

Compatibility image via Shutterstock.
Compatibility image via Shutterstock.

If MLSs adopt the standards, the reasoning goes, vendors will no longer have to spend additional time and money coding each product to match varying MLS data definitions.

Today, an app that’s developed for one MLS may not be compatible for use by another without modifications. Vendors have an incentive to develop apps for the biggest MLSs first, because they have the largest customer base, leaving smaller MLSs with fewer options.

This week, RESO introduced Data Dictionary 1.2, which adds terms for open houses, saved searches, property types, members, offices and transactional history, among other categories. For instance, RESO added the fields “HorseYN” (which asks if a property is allowed to raise horses); “Irrigation Source” (which requests the property’s water source for irrigation); and “Vegetation” (which asks for a list of the types of vegetation on the property).

“We are excited to release the next version of the Data Dictionary, because it’s a key part of our mission to standardize real estate data for the betterment of the industry,” said Robert Gottesman, RESO’s executive director, in a statement.

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“We’re also extremely proud of the hard work our member volunteers have put into version 1.2, because it shows how much our member community values consistent data.”

If MLSs adopt the standards, vendors will no longer have to code each product to match varying MLS data definitions.

Data Dictionary 1.2 also includes 67 new “enumerations” — options offered in drop-down lists, i.e., listing status — bringing the total number of enumerations to more than 130.

The Data Dictionary’s next incarnation, version 1.3, will likely include the addition of commercial real estate-related terms as well as more options for drop-down lists. RESO is also working on an application programming interface (API) it hopes to finalize by the end of the year.

The Data Dictionary currently contains nearly 1,000 fields, up from 503 in its first version, although MLSs are expected to use subset of the dictionary because not all fields apply to every MLS.

RESO is not sure exactly how many MLSs have adopted the Data Dictionary thus far. Gottesman estimated that there weren’t many that had this year, but said he’s expecting a lot in 2014.

“Most MLS vendors have to gear up so they can technically deliver Data Dictionary RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) feeds,” he told Inman News.

“Also, [an] MLS may have to convert their own local MLS to a newer format before they can utilize the Data Dictionary. That last step is big and some of our RESO MLS members are in that step right now as we speak.”

Last month, Craig Cheatham, president and CEO of large brokerage network The Realty Alliance, accepted RESO’s offer to join its board of directors in 2014. RESO hopes Cheatham’s participation will drum up support from the brokerage community for RESO’s data standards.


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