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The first 20 years of RESO standards largely benefited real estate professionals and technologists in the United States and Canada. But the mission of RESO has always been the creation of standards for global use.

RESO standards are at the core of the majority of real estate listing organizations in North America. This makes RESO the go-to resource for the establishment of new standards-based systems across the world. Demand is growing, leading to more conversations about what internationalization really means.

RESO CEO Sam DeBord moderated a session entitled “The Expanding International Impact of RESO” at the RESO 2023 Spring Conference with Kat Newel, VP of Business Innovation at the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), and Vandana Vohra, EVP/CIO at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE).

The trio discussed topics like language translations of the Data Dictionary, transport-agnostic certification, naming conventions and more. | WATCH VIDEO (12:01)

Both interviewees are uniquely qualified to bring topics related to international standards to real estate decision makers, as Newel serves on the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) Technology Committee and Vohra sits on RESO’s Board of Directors.

CREA, which is the Canadian equivalent of the U.S.’s National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), has a hands-on approach to managing real estate data standards that mirrors the support that NAR has given RESO.

CREA has led the industry through adoption of a Canadian data standard and is now transitioning it to RESO’s international Data Dictionary standard. When CREA analyzed RESO’s Data Dictionary, they found that 80% of what they were doing locally matched up with the RESO standard. They also discovered that more than 100 technology vendors in the Canadian space were already on RESO standards.

CREA also runs a service that receives listings from local boards nationwide and aggregates them into the Data Distribution Facility (DDF). The DDF accounts for almost 100% of properties across Canada, and CREA is upgrading its users to the RESO Web API standard for transporting that data.

Creating power in numbers, CREA joined forces with RESO, helped establish a French-Canadian translation of field and lookup terms, and will continue to explore ways to collaborate.

Provincially, Newel said that REBGV staff are becoming more active in workgroups for a more regional rollout of RESO standards.

LeadingRE serves 565 member companies in over 70 countries around the globe, and tech transport is extremely important. As they integrate more fully into RESO, standardization has become a top focus.

The company currently receives data in multiple languages and many different formats. It faces a challenge to ingest 150 different forms of data, but using RESO as a guide, LeadingRE has been able to funnel its customers down to just three processes:

  1. RESO-based API
  2. RESO-based XML feed
  3. RESO-based manual entry process for outlier organizations

With this three-pronged plan in place, Vohra expects more standard methodologies by their customers over the next year.

International Touchpoints
Privacy is a consideration in developing international standards. Consider the European General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), for example. Even displaying home addresses, an expected scenario in the U.S., might not be legal in some countries.

There are also no traditional MLS or IDX feeds outside of North America. Focusing on existing tech has been more important to LeadingRE’s success than introducing solutions without cultural anchor points.

Language is the most obvious difference between nations. Vohra emphasized that it is important for RESO to be thinking about language as the Data Dictionary expands. (RESO has standards for delivering multi-language data in feeds that have already been adopted in Latin America.)

Potential languages of focus include those of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region, like Mandarin Chinese, Standard Chinese, Hindi and Indonesian, as well as French (not just French-Canadian), German, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Italian and Portuguese.

Variations of English and Spanish are also important. Although we have French-Canadian and Castilian Spanish translations, other considerations might include Canadian English, British English, Australian English, Mexican Spanish and Colombian Spanish, among others. 

Accounting for different address styles, measurements and currencies will also be needed as RESO evolves. United States Postal Service guidelines and U.S. dollars can only go so far. And though Canada has managed to do well by the current Data Dictionary, there are some intricate and localized naming conventions and addressing issues that are worth more exploration.

Specifically, said Newel, cultural considerations for the First Nations in Canada, the indigenous people that were present before European settlement, have become more prevalent. Naming conventions matter in the form of unique words that contain numbers, underscores, raised letters and other characters not found on a typical keyboard.

Vohra added that there are already many non-English keyboards around the world. Being more culturally aware and spending time broadening the capabilities of existing standards will foster more confidence in RESO standards. With guidance from volunteer leaders like Newel and Vohra, we are well on our way.

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