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by Matt Cohen of CoreLogic, Kevin Hawkins of WAV Group, and RESO Staff

RESO’s Spring Summit is traditionally an in-person conference with speakers, technology demonstrations and standards workgroup meetings. The 2020 spring meeting provided some brand new challenges for conferences, so RESO took the opportunity to pivot and accelerate in a new direction with a digital conference dubbed RESO Remote, or #RESOremote for the social media-inclined.

Framing Out a Digital Conference

RESO adapted quickly to the new work-from-home environment and used an online platform for recorded video speaker sessions, software demos, live workgroup meetings and virtual reality receptions. Pathable was the digital hub for the conference’s registration, profile management, agenda display and session reservations. The prerecorded videos and interactive Zoom meetings were all embedded in the conference platform.

This was a calculated decision by RESO to ensure that remote participants had continuous, on-demand access to speaker content mixed with live workgroup, roundtable and town hall sessions to assure live engagement. Based on attendee feedback, the experiment seems to have worked remarkably well.

Having the videos within Vimeo provided an additional bonus, because of a Google Chrome plugin for Vimeo that allows for playback speed adjustment, which provided a helpful time saver for some when the conference wasn’t live.

Speaker Session Takeaways

Chair Rebecca Jensen and CEO Sam DeBord opened up the morning with the state of RESO today and appreciation for all of the volunteers who have remained committed to moving data standards forward. 

Frank Major of Bright MLS opened with the future of big data for empowering brokers. He brought the 30,000-foot vision of how MLSs can leverage far more data to provide brokers and their consumers better insights for business decisions.

Kim Prior from FBS brought a polished presentation about the value of floor plans in the MLS via FlōPlan. RESO’s Transport Workgroup is developing standards to make it easier to get these new kinds of digital content into MLS systems.

Data replication is still generating a lot of discussion (and has prolonged the life of RETS), so the presentation by Kevin Regensberg from Bridge Interactive was well-timed. Of note, one-third of RESO Web API users want to replicate via the Web API. In Bridge’s research, the majority of respondents want their solution to provide both real-time and replication capabilities. 

A nice walkthrough on the value/demand for school data and leveraging the U.S. Department of Education was given by Rob “Please Don’t Distract Me While I Shelter at Home” Larson from CRMLS and Kristen “Pajamas ARE Formal Attire” Carr from RPR. A phone call from Art Carter during the presentation provided some comic relief.

A great review was provided by Jonathan Spinetto from Remine about the development of Remine Live to meet the unexpected needs of our real estate marketplace for live streaming and virtual tours. RESO’s Data Dictionary Workgroup is bringing the industry stakeholders together to coalesce around a single solution for recorded virtual tours and live stream open houses.

Denee Evans provided an update on CMLS about its Best Practices Guide and support of “Ocho,” the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Clear Cooperation Policy 8.0. RESO has provided content support for the communications efforts in the form of Standard Status fields that can support MLS policy development efforts. 

Seeing Dan Troup from RE/MAX and Bill Fowler from Compass share the stage, er, video screen was a highlight, as they described the struggles that two of the largest and most powerful brokerage operators in the U.S. still face in getting a RESO data feed. Whether “traditional” or new, brokerage companies have many of the same data needs, and efficiency is critical in the current business environment.

RESO Contributor Awards

The RESO Contributor Awards recognized some fresh and fantastic names and faces. Having new people receive recognition for RESO workgroup contributions was a terrific sign of active commitment throughout the industry in support of RESO’s mission. RESO has had more than 100 new organizations join in the past year, and the growth is encouraging.

RESO Commander Testing Platform

Chief Architect Josh Darnell demonstrated the new RESO Commander certification tool. The code is open source on RESO’s GitHub and is using the Cucumber language. This natural language development will give long-time RESO volunteers memories of the efforts to put together REBR (Real Estate Business Rules) language. 

Testing in Commander is intended to allow MLSs and other technology companies to self-test prior to RESO certification. The Cucumber Behavior Driven Development tests will allow business analysts to understand what is being tested, even if they’re not developers. The underlying testing is based on the Olingo libraries which are supported by the larger OData community to ensure tests keep up with the changing technology marketplace. Going forward, MLSs and other technology companies can use RESO Commander within their development environments and ensure when they make changes, they won’t break their certifications.

Broker Concerns

The Broker Advisory Workgroup Chair, David Gumpper of Gumpper Group & WAV Group, led broker conversations about what’s needed in today’s business climate. Some frustrations were expressed with the “silos” of data created by MLS rules. Hearing stories from brokerages across the U.S. on how they are handling COVID-19 was poignant. There’s never been a more important moment to focus on time and cost savings through efficient technology.

Marilyn Wilson presented the WAV Group 2020 Data Services Survey, a state-of-the-state view that put hard numbers behind the value of RESO’s efforts and the growing importance of the RESO Web API. 

Brokers appreciate the many efforts to consolidate data access, but some still have to deal with MLSs that, they feel, overcharge for access to their own data. There are differences between aggregation platforms, but it’s still easier than dealing with MLSs individually.

Results included:

  • Brokers provide a variety of technology to agents: IDX (18%), online property search portals (12%), market statistics (12%), mobile apps (11%), lead generation software (9%) and more.
  • Brokers are considering adding more data to their applications in the future, including, in priority order, public records, broker listings/history, solds, flood, neighborhood, school and more.
  • Of those surveyed, 58% still need to secure data from multiple MLSs and third parties.
  • Two-thirds thought it was “very or extremely valuable” to have one source for multiple types of real estate data.

Policy to Get Brokers Their Data

A relevant policy currently being considered by NAR was discussed: that an MLS must, upon request, promptly provide an MLS participant (or their designee) a data feed containing, at minimum, all active MLS listing data input into the MLS by or on behalf of the participant and all of the broker’s off-market historical data. That policy is currently moving from NAR’s MLS Committee to the Board of Directors for a vote.

The resounding response of the group was a surprise that this was not a given in any market today. The “MLS of Choice” has been described as punchless without also allowing brokerages the ability to choose where their data goes.

Groundhog Days on Market

Another survey was performed to find out differences in how MLSs calculate Days on Market (DOM). | VIEW RESULTS

Consensus on DOM is not in sight (cue “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher), and it appears that without an industry-wide standard or rule, data around listing marketing times will continue to be fragmented. With the adoption of Clear Cooperation and Coming Soon in many markets, there’s never been a better time for a standard model for calculating DOM.

Faster Decisions, Faster Data

The concept of speeding up communications between MLSs and those seeking data seemed like an old idea given fresh blood with the proposal of using Slack and other modern forms of communication. Brokers and technology partners want more consistent ways to be informed of pending data changes. MLSs want more information about data consumers to be able to make better and quicker decisions.

The Working With Real Estate Data Course and Data Experience Record are two RESO concepts being further explored to enhance these capabilities for MLS and broker technology partners.

The series of videos from “The Present: Fixing Broker Pain Points” were well-received. Particularly, many positive comments came through for Homes.com’s Elizabeth Reittinger and her “What is ‘Our’ Next Best Steps to Make Web API Successful?” talk. 

Ali Attar of Realtyna gave a great talk on expanding RESO standards internationally. Other countries have a far less organized real estate system than the U.S., and RESO has had significant uptake in international markets with the Data Dictionary and the Universal Property Identifier (UPI).

Direct Feedback on Pain Points

The prerecorded Industry Pain Points discussion between RESO CEO Sam DeBord, TJ Bolan from Redfin and Scott Petronis from Xcentric Consulting led nicely into a live (and lively!) Pain Points Interactive Forum. This is a new RESO session that started last year and has proved to be one of the more popular meetings at conferences.

Attendees offered suggestions and concerns that will be brought back to RESO’s workgroups, CMLS and NAR where appropriate to continue working on streamlining industry technology for practitioners.

Workgroup Highlights

The Universal Property Identifier (UPI) Workgroup continues its important efforts. The UPI repository allows organizations to record events against a single identifier and build confidence in the identification of a parcel or subproperty. Its main use is deduplication and verification of a listing being “real.” International technology companies and government agencies are showing great interest in the model.

In the Data Dictionary Workgroup, the conversation continued about how to express dates related to “Coming Soon” listings. The group also discussed whether fields related to live video would be prefaced by the word “Virtual” or “Live Stream.”

In a survey conducted during the workgroup meeting, 27 preferred Virtual and 42 preferred Live Stream. In practice, members are finding that agents are far more compliant with the intent of a live open house URL field when the term “Live Stream” is attached to it.

The Cross-Platform Interoperability Workgroup is focused on standards for transaction management. A list of fields being considered can be found on RESO’s Confluence collaboration platform (member login required) | VIEW FIELDS

The Transport Workgroup discussed ways to continue making access to data via the Web API easier and more consistent. Sharing Data Dictionary payloads across systems with consistent transport and display names is a priority. 

The future of certification was also discussed as all certifications become Platinum in 2020 and metallic certification levels will go away. This milestone will move RESO toward a new certification model: a stable, consistent “core” standard plus distinct endorsements that can be added for additional capabilities. This new direction will allow standards development to be more agile, and allow for more non-MLS technologies to also become RESO certified.

The Internet Tracking Workgroup continues to evolve a method for moving data around to reflect how people interact with real estate data on websites, apps and other real estate technology. There is a vast amount of event-based data that isn’t being captured and leveraged by MLS and broker technology systems today.

Hot topics in the Research & Development Workgroup included:

  • Media Modifications: Ensuring that digital changes made to photos and other media in listings are disclosed.
  • Organization Tour Data: Developing a data standard for tour (caravan) data, including metadata for tour dates (days of the week), times and geographic boundaries that would facilitate the exchange of tour data between MLS systems.
  • ULID: The exploration of a Universal Licensee Identifier (ULID) by way of biweekly subgroup meetings.

Many key and emerging trends were covered over the three-day event:

  • How the Distributed Ledger Workgroup can help blockchain intersect with the UPI
  • The creation of an Event Model using distributed ledgers or traditional databases
  • The value that more implementation of Internet Tracking brings
  • The work of the Cross-Platform Interoperability Workgroup in getting Transaction Management programs to “talk” to one another

These are all insights into the future of real estate that RESO conferences uniquely deliver.

Receptions

RESO leveraged the eXp Realty VirBELA virtual world for two nights of receptions and Zoom for two other receptions. The events were well-attended by thirsty conference-goers who enjoyed this new version of the traditional conference lobby bar.

Receptions were sponsored by eXp Realty, CoreLogic and HouseCanary, not to mention a RESO After Party sponsored by Commissions, Inc. that apparently went deep into the night and inspired the Payloads Workgroup Chair, Rick Trevino from MetroList, to include extra slides about it in the final meeting of the conference.

The virtual world was fascinating, and it was especially interesting to talk to eXp staff in attendance about how normal they find the experience in their day-to-day work. Given the current situation, it’s hard to not think about this kind of platform catching fire.

Sidebar: If you want to see the concept of virtual worlds in a sort of silly, fictionalized overdrive, check out the Amazon Original series, “Upload.” 

Wrapping up the Wrapup: Final Thoughts From #RESOremote

Special shout-outs:

  • Chis Haran, MRED, Internet Tracking Workgroup Chair, for clever RESO memes
  • Homes.com for showing their “Brady Bunch” image in thanking their team
  • Zillow Group for its Platinum sponsorship
  • Frank Major of Bright MLS for his potent quotable: “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.”
  • Frank Major (again!) for bringing the acronym DaaS (Data as a Service) into the sun.

Takeaways for Learning to Work in This New Remote Environment

Workgroup meetings live via Zoom were informative and surprisingly organized with 100+ people on each call. They can also be exhausting. Our brains are not meant to sit in front of a screen for hours just the same as they are not meant to endure hours of in-person meetings without taking a break! 

Prerecorded video content does a lot to allow attendees to view some sessions whenever their schedule and brain are ready for it. Kudos to Greg Moore, Chair of the Research & Development Workgroup, for building in an unplanned break from inside his workgroup meeting.

RESO Remote was essentially pulled together in 30 days, shifting all registrants from an in-person meeting in New Orleans to a shelter-in-place meeting with an opportunity to present yourself on a Zoom video call with a New Orleans-inspired background.

Overall, the reception to RESO Remote was resoundingly positive, and all feedback will be used to enhance future RESO conferences, virtual or otherwise. Thank you for the tremendous support and thank you to all attendees for making the conference all it could be.

Please join us October 26–29, 2020, in St. Petersburg, FL for our Fall Conference. At this time, we are remaining optimistic that it will be an in-person celebration of our community.

DLU August 3rd, 2020