Clareity Consulting, a real estate consulting company, will facilitate a series of meetings this year to improve national real estate data standards and provide more ease of use for real estate technology applications, the company announced today.

The meetings are part of an effort to establish a Real Estate Software Open Standards Work Group, Clareity announced.

The work group grew out of a discussion at an MLS Vendor Technology Summit in Las Vegas organized by Clareity. The attendees included technology officers and senior executives of many real estate and MLS software companies, including FBS, Fidelity, First American (formerly MarketLinx and Interealty), Realigent, Stratus Data Systems and Tarasoft, according to the announcement. The group reviewed new MLS technologies, data distribution and tracking technologies, and “single sign-on” technologies that allow users to access multiple real estate applications with a single login.

While single sign-on “can be a great convenience … vendors need to agree on standards so they can cooperate both efficiently and securely,” according to the announcement.

The group agreed to use and promote more open standards to facilitate this easy login process, “rather than using proprietary and unnecessarily expensive security solutions to realize the benefits of single sign-on. Since the meeting, a number of transaction management software vendors have also agreed to follow this path in cooperating with MLS and other software vendors,” Clareity reported.

The group’s second initiative is to further define national data standards. “Data standards are important because they make it easier for different software systems to share information, reducing the extra effort, expense, and errors inherent in duplicate information entry. As the industry integrates software such as electronic forms, document management, and transaction management to pre-existing technologies … the need for expansive data standards is increasing,” Clareity reported.

While many industry players have embraced a Real Estate Transaction Standard that allows more fluid exchange of real estate data, the working group will study ways to improve this data standardization.

“While the vendors all appreciate and support the RETS standard, they felt as though more work could be done to move forward at a faster pace,” Clareity announced. “Clareity is also in discussion with several national real estate franchises regarding the data standards initiative. The franchises feel their franchisees can greatly benefit from this initiative and receive more accurate, standardized information for their back-office systems, as well as for their franchise reporting systems. Data standards will also create efficiencies and reduce the cost of data acquisition.”

The company added, “Further definition of the standard fields will improve the ability of all MLS systems to meet the needs of brokers and agents across the country, particularly as more regionalization occurs.”

Clareity is already working, for example, with a group of Greater San Francisco Bay Area MLSs that are forming a large regional MLS, and this group is pursuing regional data standards.

The next meeting of the Real Estate Software Open Standards Work Group is scheduled for March 30 in Las Vegas, the company announced.

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