Select Page

Greg Sax and Alex Thegby G. Sax, Head of Communications, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards. The goal of the series is to humanize the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week’s interview is with Alex Theg, API Product Manager at FBS. We chatted about the RESO Web API (it’s in his title after all), open source development and fostering fresh talent. Enjoy!

Q1: You are fairly new to the real estate technology space at close to five years at FBS. How did you find your way to a company based in Fargo from Davis, California?

Alex: It’s true that FBS was my first real estate job. I was looking for a fully remote company, and I found FBS online, knowing next to nothing about what they did.

But I did know that my budding family might be moving around a little bit. My wife is from Naples, Florida, and we moved there and back again. So I wanted that work-from-home flexibility.

I started out on the API support team at FBS, then made a move to the product side, which was a natural transition.

RESO: I have an industry-related follow-up to that answer, because the remote worker concept is still fairly new to organized real estate.

As someone who has eschewed entrenched ideas about how to work, and given your particular angle as an API specialist, is there hope for us to modernize data transport so that others outside of real estate circles are eager to come and play with us?

Alex: A full shift to API is going to happen. I will repeat that. It is going to happen.

APIs are truly what web developers without prior knowledge of the real estate industry expect. At this point, RETS is pretty exotic. The benefits of making our industry’s data accessible to developers are huge: more competition around more exciting tools and products for everyone.

I certainly understand why the industry at large hasn’t moved faster toward the RESO Web API from RETS. I understand how much inertia there is. People don’t want to mess with something that does the job.

I also understand why people replicate, but with APIs comes the ability to pull up-to-the-second fresh data. Data consumers need to have choice about how they use the RESO Web API, but switching from replication to pulling data on demand and in real-time is an exciting prospect  and a meaningful change in mentality.

The move to API does not represent change for the sake of change. It will be well worth it in the long run, and I feel like we have a good tailwind going in the movement toward API. 

We’ve seen a manifold increase in the pace of the transition over the past year, as measured by the number of active RETS and API feeds.

Q2: Judging by your work with the Coko Foundation, you seem to be committed to open-source code. Perhaps you have noticed that this is also something that we strive to utilize at RESO.

What is the Coko Foundation, and why is open source the way to go with web development projects?

Alex: The Coko Foundation aims to provide open source tools to allow people to self-publish books, run their own journals, manage their own peer review systems and much more.

Most of the existing editorial tools were proprietary systems that were prohibitively expensive for many and fed into an ecosystem of closed-source, paywalled academic information.

Since my time there, they’ve expanded into other areas, such as assessment tools and citation visualizations with 100% open source.

Making everything open source keeps things affordable, accessible and extensible, and it allows anyone with interest to contribute their time and expertise.

RESO is a fantastic example of open source at its most important and successful. The open source community is vast and incredibly helpful, and I recommend that all developers explore and be part of this community.

For the record, standardized data also helps in publishing – academic and otherwise. It’s important everywhere!

Q3: FBS is not just an employee-owned company but one with missions beyond the MLS. Most notably, as a company, FBS is mentoring new technology leaders from underserved communities.

Can you speak to that initiative and what others who work in real estate technology can do on their own?

Alex: You are talking about the CREATE Program. The idea there was to provide internships for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore a career in technology.

One of the graduates from that program, Eddie Gutierrez, has joined us as a developer and is a rock star. We are truly lucky to have him! He shows that people rise to the occasion when they have the right opportunity.

Philip Culver, our Director of Operations, spearheaded the CREATE Program with many other contributors. We are incredibly proud of him, Eddie and everyone at FBS that supports the CREATE Program as employee owners.

We’d be happy to talk further with anyone in the industry about this initiative.

Subscribe To Our Blog!

Subscribe To Our Blog!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!