Transitioning your customer base from the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) to a certified RESO Web API service requires significant planning and communication. To provide a path forward, RESO collaborated with MLS organizations that have already converted their customers to Web API to offer a best practices guide.
Mathew Kallumadil, VP, Technology & Innovation at Stellar MLS, and Kim Everett, CEO at Western Arizona REALTOR® Data Exchange (WARDEX) represent two MLSs that are fully converted to the RESO Web API. They spoke about their experience and the Web API Transition Guide at the RESO 2023 Spring Conference. | WATCH VIDEO (15:03)
The guide covers how MLSs should prepare for, communicate and execute their own transitions. “We wish we had this guide [at the time]. It would have been really useful,” said Kallumadil.
The argument against transitioning away from RETS has generally been of the “why fix it if it ain’t broke” variety. Kallumadil said it boils down to interoperability for all involved constituents, including MLSs, associations, vendors, agents and their customers.
RETS, as the name suggests, was built only for the real estate industry. By its very nature, it builds a wall that blocks technology from outside of the industry. That provides a compelling pro-API message to present to MLS leadership that might balk at making the transition.
For consumers, switching from RETS to Web API is obvious because it offers more technology choices.
For vendors, there will be more competition, and there will no longer be a need for RETS specialists in order to build new technology.
According to both Kallumadil and Everett, the transition was not very challenging. They each gave vendors a year to comply, and both were ready in about six months.
Everett, who has been in the industry for only two years, learned about the Web API at a RESO conference, went home and told her board about it. The leadership agreed to pursue it, and they worked with their MLS vendor to get it done within a year.
Everett said she used the parenting style of “Love and Logic” to get it done. WARDEX presented their vendors with no exceptions beyond the Web API. “We stood our ground,” she said.
Now, WARDEX is able to pick up and start using new technology much faster than they could before the transition. Everett said that vendors often come to them to ask if they can provide a solution, and they are always happy to hear that they have the RESO Web API in place. Using a globally accepted standard allows for more plug-and-play technology.
Everett noted that a few vendors had built their system specifically for RETS. They knew they were going to have to move away from it eventually, but they procrastinated. Today, more services are ready to move beyond RETS.
Everett and Kallumadil pinpointed five items to focus on:
- Identify different needs of different data consumers
- Garner support from the entire leadership
- Communicate frequently with data consumers
- Help, if you can, or partner with your API vendor
- Stick to your deadline
Kallumadil said not to crumble to the very vocal brokerage or member that doesn’t want it. Everett echoed the sentiment and stressed the importance of getting your leadership on board. Make sure that they understand why the RESO Web API is a better option. Leaders should have the elevator speech ready so if there is pushback, they can intelligently speak to arguments against a transition.
Kallumadil noted that real estate is not the only industry going through these transitions. The telecom industry once had small, contained clubs, but they have developed a better mobile standard. And the banking industry used to have inward-facing structures, making it difficult for outsiders to interact with them. Once they opened up to API, it ultimately led to popular fintech like Venmo, Zelle and Apple Pay. Being API-enabled opened the industry up to more competition and better products.
Said Everett, “There’s no reason that we’re still dragging our heels. Just step in and go.”
RESO’s Web API Transition Guide is available to help MLSs move their technology forward.