The nonprofit Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has formed a new workgroup to develop a system for tracking when property is listed, showed, sold, transferred and more.

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) wants to help the industry identify and document every event in the entire lifecycle of a property — not just when it’s for sale.

To that end, RESO, a nonprofit trade group that develops and implements standards that allow real estate data to be transmitted from one system to another smoothly and accurately — such as from a multiple listing service (MLS) to a broker’s website — has created a new Distributed Ledger Workgroup.

A distributed ledger is a database that exists across several locations or among multiple participants, as opposed to having a centralized database, according to tech firm TradeIX. (Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger.) All participants can view the records in the ledger, and the tech provides “a verifiable and auditable history of all information stored on that particular dataset,” the firm says on its website.

Jeremy Crawford

In an email, RESO CEO Jeremy Crawford told Inman the workgroup would look at distributed ledger technology broadly, not just blockchain, for applications in the real estate standards space.

“With that being said, so far in the early meetings of the workgroup, blockchain technologies have been included in many of the discussions,” he said.

According to RESO, the types of events that the workgroup will endeavor to identify and document include:

  • Property: Events related to a property whether it is for sale or not, such as improvement, property taxes paid, property taxes levied, property loan received, natural event (such as flooding), insurance claim submitted, insurance claim paid, assessment, survey or foreclosure
  • Listing: Events related to the listing as entered in the MLS, such as advertisement, entered into the MLS, price established, price change, agency establishes, staging ordered and staging completed
  • Offer: Events related to receiving and accepting an offer that has been listed in the MLS
  • Transfer: Events related to ownership transfer of real property
  • Showing: Events related to showing listed property to prospective buyers

“Once these events are recorded in a distributed ledger, they would provide our industry many benefits, from giving participants a record of lasting accountability to triggering instant notifications as events occur, as well as providing data that identifies patterns or rules that can be highly valuable to real estate professionals,” Crawford wrote in a blog post last week announcing the new workgroup.

Identifying and documenting events could have the added benefit of showing how users are consuming MLS data through different resources or products, which would give MLSs (and other organizations in charge of real estate data) direction on which new services they should be integrating with or new ideas for their own products, according to RESO.

“This information could be used to discover where consumers search for homes geographically over time, and then used in a CMA, for example, to show sellers in those geographic areas … why they are more likely to have the strong search activity when they list,” Crawford wrote.

The data could also be a boon to predictive analytics, indicating which event in a property’s lifecycle is likely to happen next and when, he added.

“A building permit was issued for a certain lot, a building was built on a certain date, a unit with certain characteristics was offered for sale, a unit was sold by corporation A to owner B, the annual tax was paid by owner B to County C, and so on and so forth. A property is a living organism of events that have been recorded in a haphazard and non-uniform manner,” said L.D. Salmanson, member of the new workgroup and CEO and founder of Cherre, in a statement.

“Standardizing such events, and recording them in an immutable and decentralized manner, is a giant step in the right direction and will surely be the building blocks for a huge leap in descriptive, predictive and hopefully, prescriptive analytics applications.”

The co-chairs of the new workgroup are Mark Lesswing, a RESO board member and the former chief technology officer for the National Association of Realtors, and Ashish Antal, an active contributor to the RESO Transport Workgroup and director of architecture at Silicon Valley-based MLSListings, Inc.

RESO extended an invitation to all of its members — which include MLSs, brokerages and tech firms — to join the workgroup, which will meet via conference call on the last Tuesday of every month.

Asked how long the standardization would take, Crawford said, “[I]t could take a while depending upon how large of an initial effort the Workgroup would like to take on and how many industry experts we can gather to participate. The more companies we have involved, the faster we can work towards standards to support the technologies being made in the industry and the greater the standard will be to support as many options in the industry as possible.”

Outside of standards, he expects some ledger products to be launched in the real estate industry this year.

“The goal is to have standards that support the technologies in the industry being created, with many aspects of the standards providing interoperability and commonality between these blockchain type of solutions on ledgering created by multiple companies,” he said.

Asked how RESO would go about getting ledger standards adopted, Crawford said, “[T]he current participants (including MLSListings, NAR, Imbrex, ShelterZoom, REBloc, ILookAbout, Cherre, Inc.,DocuSign, etc.) are all vested in adopting the created standards organically as soon as it’s created to support their individual platforms, and with the growth of the topic in the industry, we see many more coming on board soon to join in on the efforts.”

RESO is also working with the standards bodies MISMO and OSCRE to both create the RESO standards and coordinate with their distributed ledger efforts “to make sure that not just the listing itself is supported, but that larger aspects of the real estate process including mortgage, lending, title and use of OSCRE’s closed source licensed-based standards are also included in the efforts to provide interoperability across all aspects of the entire lifecycle of the property, not limited to activity (events) in the MLS,” Crawford said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from RESO’s Jeremy Crawford.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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