The RESO Web API is the modern way that MLSs transport data to their brokers and their vendors. Many MLSs have non-standardized data in their internal systems. That data is mapped, or matched, to RESO’s Data Dictionary standards and delivered to customers via the MLS’s Web API services.
Standardized data is what technology companies and brokers are asking for from their MLSs. They want to build technology that works across many markets efficiently and quickly. So a RESO-certified Web API is the way these MLSs can provide “cleaned up” external access to standardized data on top of their non-standardized internal systems.
Standard Outside, Standard Inside
Is there also a reason to make an MLS’s internal systems RESO-compliant? In a word: absolutely.
Web API services transport MLS data outward to vendor and broker technology systems. But MLSs’ internal technology tools are expanding greatly, and having standardized data to fuel every direct interaction with a broker or agent greatly simplifies MLSs’ data relationships with them.
The phrase “native Data Dictionary” is commonly used in the industry to express that an MLS’s core systems provide RESO-compliant data outward to other services. The MLS doesn’t use unstandardized data for all of its services except for its Web API service.
In practice, there are a number of ways to achieve this. It’s not a mandate that the MLS’s internal database be implemented with table names and columns that match the Data Dictionary exaclty.
The goal is to have an interface on top of the data set that delivers RESO-compliant data out to any service that needs it. The systems can “talk RESO” outward and “hear RESO inward. The data is already going out this way to a Web API service. But with a holistic Data Dictionary compliant interface, services that rely on older RETS or FTP transfer of data will still always received RESO-compliant data.
No matter the implementation, ensuring that all of an MLS’s systems have access to a RESO-compliant data interface creates clearer communication between the MLS’s customers: brokers, agents, and their clients.
Agent Experience: Setting up a search for a client in the MLS’s primary software system
MLSs have two sets of fields. The first are fields that are already in the RESO Data Dictionary and should be standardized. In many cases, they haven’t yet been standardized in the MLS’s internal systems. The second set contains unique custom fields that add local depth to that marketplace’s data.
An agent in an MLS with internal non-standardized fields might use these as criteria to create a client’s listing alerts:
- Ask price
- On the ocean
These fields make sense to the agent because the agent uses them in the MLS’s primary application. But they’re not standardized. So when the agent wants to set up this same client with customized property preferences in their website partner’s portal app, or in their brokerage of franchisor’s agent/client collaboration app, the fields look like this:
- List Price
- Ocean Front
The fix may sound simple: the agent has to know that “ask price = list price”. But remember that MLSs have up to thousands of fields and picklists in their listings. And every agent, with every client, in every app that they intend to use, has to analyze which fields have changed for every client preference as they use different tools. The data being delivered to the broker’s partners doesn’t match the data the MLS is displaying to its agents directly in some cases. That inefficiency shouldn’t be ignored.
To be clear, MLSs first achieving a fully standardized, certified Web API is a massive leap forward for the real estate industry. This initial step allows for all data partners to access data in a common language across every MLS. Not all MLSs will be able to achieve “native” Data Dictionary compliance immediately, but all can achieve this outbound API of standardized data. The value of going a step further, though, is becoming clear.
The Added Efficiency Benefits of Internally Standardized Data
On top of the Web API’s value, an internal adoption of RESO standards expands the benefits to the MLS on a greater level. It becomes a platform for the MLS’s internal standardized data-driven services.
CoreLogic’s session at the most recent RESO conference laid out how this philosophy can create efficiencies for all of an organization’s technology efforts going forward. “Standards as a platform,” is the mantra of an MLS organization making its external data sharing (Web API) and its internal data services standards-compliant. All future data-driven development can benefit from the upfront investment.
The Future of “Front End of Choice”: Listing Update
The industry’s been talking about “front end of choice” for a long time. It’s the ability for multiple different systems to display and update the data in the MLS’s primary database.
That’s possible for organizations that have standardized Web API services and a non-standardized internal systems. But it does require significant data translation and custom work. In an internally compliant MLS database, listing update features will work with less development time and cost due to the upfront standardization work.
In the simplest terms, when all of the Web API services and all of the internal databases call “List Price” the same thing and nothing else, updating any system is easier. The universal language of standards makes interoperability more accessible.
The Work is Worth It
There’s no doubt that resources, time, and a bit of discomfort are part of the process of becoming not only outwardly standards compliant, but also internally standardized. Through the process of reengineering the MLS’s data foundation, though, a platform that enables faster integrations, broader interoperability, and more certainty for the MLS’s customers is well worth the investment.
It only takes a look at the list of MLS organizations who are standardizing their internal data services to see where leadership lies. Those MLSs that put data integrity and efficiency at the forefront of their strategy are working toward standards compliance top-to-bottom. Brokers, agents, and their customers are reaping the benefits.
MLSs Standardizing their Internal Systems to the Data Dictionary
(Did we miss you? Send us a note! RESO certifies MLSs’ Web API services, not the internal database systems.)
- ACTRIS (Austin)
- Bright MLS (Eastern Seaboard)
- California Regional MLS
- First MLS (Atlanta)
- Heartland MLS (Kansas City)
- Stellar MLS (FL)
- More to come…