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The first time you attempt anything is a risk. But when you back that risk with $25,000 in cash prizes and invest $15,000 in hosting the event, you are especially delighted when the result is a success. Everyone involved in the RESO DataComp at our recent San Diego conference should celebrate what was achieved. Our terrific event sponsor RPR, Realtors Property Resource and our prize sponsors FBS, the creators of Flexmls and Stratus Data Systems, Inc. Our remarkable panel of top-level judges, including Mark Birschbach of NAR and Second Century Ventures; Chris Heller of Keller Williams; Kyle Campbell of Hack Capital; Glenn Shimkus, who sits on the DocuSign Advisory Board; and Craig Rowe, a tech reviewer and reporter for Inman News.

The participants, winners and the innovations based on RESO data standards that they all created within the 30-day window we gave them were simply incredible. We had more than a dozen entries from all over the U.S. The competitors’ live presentations for the RESO DataComp on the first day of the RESO Fall Conference at the plush Pendry Hotel in San Diego were truly the highlight of the conference.

The “Best Overall Product” was My Drawbridge, a highly interactive web app that allows real estate investors to find and develop opportunities in searching for land parcels, which won the overall prize and received the $10,000 Cash Prize. My Drawbridge also won “Best Use of Non-Listing Data” and snagged another $5,000 from the DataComp. letsbutterfly, a beautiful mobile app that creates CMAs, won the RESO DataComp “Crowd Favorite” and $5,000. Swim Lanes, a Blockchain app for real estate, won the $5,000 Cash Prize for “Best Use of Listing Data.”

Key Takeaways from the Keynotes

With more than 50 speakers in attendance providing a wide scope of top-notch content, the San Diego conference was packed with many memorable moments and valuable takeaways.

Among some of the top highlights:

At the helm: Art Carter, Chair of RESO and head of the nation’s largest MLS, CRMLS, always sets the tone of each NAREE conference, assessing the state of RESO and gives folks a look at what’s on the horizon for industry data standards. It’s no surprise that shortly after our conference, Art was recognized at the National Association of REALTORS® conference in Chicago by CMLS with its highest honor for MLS execs, the Peter Shuttleworth MLS Executive Award of Excellence, which noted his extensive contributions to RESO.

Newbies in attendance: It was stunning to see the number of hands of first-time attendees that were raised as we started the morning sessions. It was more than half the crowd. RESO clearly is having a broader impact on mainstream real estate – not just the data tech crowd – as we continue to push beyond adoption and into more rapid utilization of industry standards.

Workgroup “Ted Talks” are working: Many new members and other attendees told us in the past that they were a bit lost attending the Workgroup meetings held in person at our conferences. They felt a little lost coming into the meetings. Yet Workgroup chairs find these among the most valuable. We tried to create an update of sorts during the general sessions – Ted-talk style – asking the Chairs to get everyone up to speed so the full meetings can be more productive for all. Based on the feedback we got, overall, this is starting to work. We’ll continue to make it better.

Cool new tech shown – The Internet of You: Among the most popular keynotes was Adrienne Meisels of myPlanit. She demonstrated how her firm is leveraging “Personal Big Data” to create a remarkably personal experience, leveraging different technology from many of the best platforms. This may lead to new discussions in the R&D Workgroup about what the business cases are in the future for real estate data, as many of these new technologies will want to tap into real estate data to create more personalized and predictive experiences.

Pushing the envelope with technology and standards: Scott Petronis, CTO of eXp Realty, a perennial speaker at RESO conferences, gave a broker talk about avoiding chasing the wrong “shiny objects” via video conference that was as clear as if he was actually in the room. Several other presenters gave us a peek into what they are working on and what’s coming next. From Zillow Group’s Bridge Interactive custom listing input system and the case study by showing the huge savings they have found (92 percent reduction in development) from the RESO Web API implementation, to the progress all of our Workgroups are making, including Internet Tracking, IDX Payloads, and Universal Property ID.

Focus on empowering agents and brokers: RESO Director and SVP Suzanne Muller showed the power of emotional connection to consumers in her presentation to brokers about the “White Space” of homeownership. Several of the keynotes – Debra Schwartz of RocketUrBiz; Dr. Umesh Harigopal of Innovation Incubator; Matt Mauseth of MapVida; Ben Bacal of Roofshoot; and Aida Bryce of DocuSign – all focused on ways new technology can be leveraged to either enhance the consumer experience or leverage data and technology to improve the agent’s and broker’s ability to better understand, identify and reach buyers and sellers.

Deep thinking: For the many geeks in attendance, there were a couple of deeply technical sessions that may have lost the business folks, but resonated with the technologists. Tavi Truman of RocketUrBiz talked about reimagining MLS data with semantic web technology stack, with the goal, he says, of creating a “super-charged real estate agent process and workflow.” Ohan Antebian of CoreLogic was a little more down to earth, but still provided a thought provoking talk about how “random is wasteful and costly,” and that the result is that we get a lot of data, but not a lot of guidance on what action to take based on the data we get. Ashish Antal of MLSListings and Sergey Ermolin of Intel gave an incredibly insightful and truly riveting presentation on neural networks’ deep learning, all related to their work to improve image search, semantic tagging and identifying image similarity.

Analytics and Valuation Models: There’s a lot going on in this space and we had two top keynotes diving into both subjects. L.D. Salmanson, CEO of Cherre, dove into the challenges of real estate valuation models and the work that has been done to improve both the accuracy and reliability for valuations of firms in the residential space. Mike Mauseth, Co-Founder of MapVida, navigated us through the world of data science and one of the hottest topics in real estate today: predictive analytics. Mike looked at ways analytics are being used to help not only find sellers, but find the best neighborhoods through new ways to search for buyers.

The Greg Robertson Show: The panel was called RESO in the REAL World, but Greg earns top billing as a moderator since he asks great questions, keeps the pace going, the energy lively and has some fun. With Troy McCasland from AgentSquared having just rolled out Instant IDX websites with ARMLS after being embedded as an option in Flexmls, and Collette Stevenson at MLS of Hilton Head Island to Tom Weiss-Lehman at Redfin and Chris Freeman at WolfNet, Greg has a first-rate group that kept everyone interested. The big takeaway: Adoption is just the fuel; we will really move this vehicle and that we get folks to full utilization and implementation. MLSs need to start the engine and step on the gas, not just put fuel in the tank.

Workgroups in Action: Finally, it wouldn’t be a RESO Conference if we didn’t hold our in-person Workgroup meetings on site. While these are normally monthly scheduled conference calls, the Workgroup Chairs insists that the in-person meetings at our twice yearly conferences are among the most productive. That’s because the content that is presented on stage at our conferences and the discussions in the hallways and over drinks at the receptions are where some of best new ideas emerge that make their way into our R&D Workgroup and, then, other Workgroups. With so many great ideas for future evolution of RESO standards, onsite Workgroup meetings will be extended at the 2018 RESO events.

For the San Diego onsite meetings, R&D discussed a wide range of topics, including heat mapping, machine learning in visualization (including photo tagging), and data best practices for both data providers and consumers.

The Internet Tracking Workgroup discussed that, with Data Dictionary 1.6, Internet Tracking has started and now brokerage firms need to ask vendors for the data. They noted the next white paper will be about big data, and covered such subjects as anonymous information, device fingerprinting and super cookies.

The Transport Workgroup primarily focused on the RESO Web API 1.3, discussing security and authentication, testing rules, standards for annotations, and the need for documentation to help navigate errors encountered with OData and other software tool libraries.

The Data Dictionary Workgroup is already looking at the 1.7 release for the summer of 2018, focused on Platinum Enumerations Status. They approved some data field changes and discussed a variety of topics, including membership, business rules, lockbox, queue/kill resource, DOM (Days on Market), and Hold Status Definition.

As you can see, we do get a lot of work done at RESO conferences and still have a lot of fun. But you’ll get your next chance in Denver: you sign up for the RESO Spring 2018 Conference here – but do it early as our meetings are known to sell out!

Jeremy Crawford is the CEO of Real Estate Standards Organization, or RESO, the organization responsible for the creation, promotion, adoption and utilization of standards to drive efficiency throughout the real estate industry.