According to Ninve James, SVP Residential Brokerage Services & Products at the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), there are roughly 100,000 buildings with three million apartments in New York City. The vast majority of New York homes are in multiunit dwellings, presumably without triangle roofs. In fact, there are an average of 95 units per building in New York City.
James presented the “Importance of Standardizing & Centralizing Building Data” at the RESO 2023 Spring Conference to highlight opportunities in multifamily real estate. | WATCH VIDEO (12:45)
A Building Resource
REBNY is a Residential Listing Service (RLS) that covers all of New York City. While they service single-family homes, they are primarily a vertical market. REBNY is committed to RESO standards and focused on bringing the value of a Building Resource forward so they can let go of their outmoded RETS technology systems.
REBNY has built their own Building Resource to meet their marketplace need for a separation of building details from unit details. They would like to see it added to the Data Dictionary and have been working with RESO to get that done.
To understand the need, consider the following: The building allows pets, but the unit owner/landlord does not. Or maybe there are laundry facilities within the building, but there are no laundry appliances in the unit.
James contends that a new Data Dictionary Building Resource would help provide accurate information, reduce redundancy and give consumers the data that they demand when searching for properties. James envisions this to be the case not just in New York but in all vertical markets, as high-rise structures are obviously not limited to REBNY’s service area.
Building vs. Units
For buildings, a great deal of data is static and doesn’t need to be frequently changed. Things like a building’s name, the year it was built, how many stories it has, and the city and borough it is located in do not regularly change.
But unit information will change more often. Pet policies can vary by unit owner, as can the availability of parking spaces, air conditioning details, heat type, storage and the aforementioned laundry facilities. Additionally, subletting policies, access to an outdoor space, smoking privileges and American Disabilities Act compliance may change from unit to unit, floor to floor.
On Citysnap, REBNY’s consumer portal, as well as on area brokerage sites, it is possible to sift through building features on listings with REBNY’s Building Resource. Without it, brokerages would not be able to list building amenities in the manner in which they currently do.
Why a New Resource?
James cited efficiency, disambiguation and accuracy as the three primary reasons to support a new Building Resource.
Efficiency: For many of the new fields, the data held within them will not change. This will reduce redundancy for brokerages and provide an ease of use for agents while also providing a more comprehensive and accurate set of data for technology providers.
Disambiguation: Because a unit and building may have conflicting data, it only makes sense to have separate data fields for each.
Accuracy: REBNY would like to see a single source of truth for buildings in the form of a stand-alone building database. Property managers, institutional landlords, brokers and agents could enter data into a centralized database that feeds the Building Resource.
To determine how to widen the scope of their Building Resource, REBNY collected data fields that they regularly use and believe that data consumers will want. They then created a list of attributes that might fit into a new Data Dictionary resource.
When REBNY approached RESO with this idea, James was delighted by the responsiveness from Data Dictionary Workgroup Chair, Rob Larson and RESO staff.
REBNY shared the concept with different MLSs in metropolitan markets with vertical living, like MRED in Chicago, Stellar MLS in Orlando and MIAMI REALTORS®. Meanwhile, RESO obtained a list of applicable fields from two technology providers.
Feedback was consolidated into a single workbook; attributes related to buildings were identified and reconciled. Commonalities were discovered for approximately 150 attributes used by at least two MLSs or technology providers.
As James put it, the next step was to “RESOify” the attribute names to be consistent with other Data Dictionary verbiage. That list has been posted for feedback and approval in a Building Subgroup post within the Data Dictionary General Discussion Forum on RESO’s member collaboration workspace.
The next step is to ask for approval by the Data Dictionary Workgroup for a Building Resource to be added to a future version of the Data Dictionary.
James closed by stating that the next generation of real estate consumer experiences and technological advancements should include standard resources that all MLSs can use, providing value to members and giving data the power to improve the consumer experience.
James also stressed the importance of collaboration during this process. The collection of New York-based stakeholders, MLSs from other cities, and RESO volunteers and staff brought a concept hidden within one system out into the open.
She didn’t mention Jay-Z and Alicia Keys by name in her list of collaborators, but the dreams made in the concrete jungle and the inspiring big lights of the message will keep the process of building a Building Resource on a vertical trajectory.
Join the Data Dictionary Workgroup to learn more! (RESO members only)