The trade association that creates the standards for getting real estate data where it needs to go has chosen a new chief.

The trade association that creates the standards for getting real estate data where it needs to go has chosen a new chief.

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has named Sam DeBord, a Seattle brokerage exec, Realtor leader and longtime Inman contributor, as its CEO. His first day was April 1.

Sam DeBord

“RESO is for brokers and agents. It is the organization that brings competitive industry technology companies into the same room to create benefits for the brokers, agents, and their customers. What we do makes you a more valuable professional, and those benefits accrue to your clients,” DeBord told Inman via email.

The RESO board of directors cited DeBord’s 20 years of experience in real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and technology consulting in its announcement of the appointment. DeBord was most recently the vice president of strategic growth and managing broker for Coldwell Banker Danforth and is transitioning out of that position over the next month. He is also past president of the Seattle King County Realtors and started out his career as a technology management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Sam DeBord is a remarkable hire for RESO,” said Art Carter, chair of the RESO board and CEO of California Regional MLS (CRMLS), in a statement.

Art Carter

“It is rare to find a leader who possesses the ability to bridge the gap between engaging business decision makers and helping problem solve with technologists. He can do both and we are excited about RESO’s future under his leadership as we push harder for the adoption and implementation of standards.”

DeBord is the current vice president of government affairs for Washington Realtors, the 2019 National Association of Realtors President’s Liaison for MLS and Data Management, and a member of the boards of directors for NAR, NAR’s venture capital arm Second Century Ventures, and CRMLS. He will remain in these positions with his new RESO role.

RESO’s previous CEO was Jeremy Crawford, who lead the nonprofit for nearly four years before becoming president and CEO of First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) in Georgia in February.

RESO has about 850 members, including NAR, MLSs, real estate associations, brokerages and real estate tech providers. DeBord will continue to live in Seattle. The nonprofit’s staff and workgroups — which are made up of varied RESO members, some of whom are otherwise rivals —  work remotely and meet throughout the year, either virtually or at the trade group’s biannual conferences.

The standards they create are either updates to long-established standards such as the RESO Data Dictionary and the RESO Web API, which offer a uniform way to exchange data between systems — such as from an MLS to a broker’s website — smoothly and accurately, or newer standards such as for universal property IDs and blockchain.

“RESO has become vital to shaping the future of our real estate industry,” DeBord said in a statement.

“I’m thrilled with the opportunity to accelerate the value that we deliver to professionals and consumers through technology innovation. We know that standards adoption is critical to this progress. Our members represent the best technology minds in real estate, and it’s an honor to work with them to move the industry forward.”

DeBord told Inman his top three priorities as CEO will be:

  1. Continued expansion and support of RESO’s well-established standards. “Continued growth of implementations for the Data Dictionary and Web API make for a more modern technology landscape that allows all of our members to deliver more value to their customers — whether they are real estate professionals or consumers,” he said.
  2. Expanding the value sets RESO delivers. “Universal property IDs, internet usage analytics, interoperability of systems — wherever we can deliver value to industry professionals by helping them get good data and have their systems interacting with one another, we’re improving the value of standards. When a consumer website, an MLS input system, a client collaboration app, and an agent’s transaction management system can talk to one another in the same language, we achieve new levels of productivity industrywide. It’s the rising tide that floats all boats,” he said.
  3. Continue expanding membership, especially among brokerage technology providers, as well as growing resources to support RESO’s workgroups in standards development and certifications. “We’ve had so much involvement from the technology and MLS community over the years, and the more we can bring brokerage companies and their vendors into our work, the more they and their customers will benefit,” DeBord said.

DeBord added that RESO is working on making data standards easier to implement. “From [MLS] replication via the Web API to combined certifications for transport and data dictionary standards, we want to be make it as simple as possible to work with RESO standards,” he said.

There has been a lot of discussion in the past year about retiring an old standard called the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) that a lot of established technology vendors continue to use, but that RESO is no longer updating or supporting. Rather, RESO is encouraging tech firms to switch to the RESO Web API.

“New technology entrants can work with the modern underlying technologies of the Web API immediately. This is a benefit to innovation in the industry, as it’s easier and faster for new ideas to take shape and provide value. Timely, quality, accurate data and dynamic technology tools will follow,” DeBord said.

RESO has also recently ratified updates to the Web API standard that allow agents and brokers to feed listings to the MLS from another system — a feature brokers have long asked for and was perhaps made most salient due to broker data management project Upstream. The updates, RESO Web API version 1.1, allow agents and brokers to input and update listings outside of the MLS.

“Instead of going to the standard MLS interface, an agent can simply use a mobile app provided by a brokerage or another technology provider to update their listings out in the field, with their clients,” DeBord said.

The updates “provide a path for MLSs to open up a wide range of new technology opportunities for their brokers and agents. As we unlock our data from single systems, we create efficiency, speed, and creativity in the tools we can use and the insights we can deliver to our customers. Brokers and agents who have better technology tools have more time to devote to serving their clients. Consumers and professionals benefit,” he added.

According to DeBord, some of the changes in standards will require tech firms and MLSs to update their infrastructure in regards to the systems they use to access, transport and store data or for documenting and expressing business rules for listing input.

He acknowledged that converting from one standard to another wasn’t “an overnight process” for tech providers, but added, “Forward-thinking tech companies, like pragmatic real estate owners, will investigate new infrastructure options before deferred maintenance becomes an emergency.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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