Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Real estate data standards…

Interesting perspective on web standards via Bruce Lawson’s interview with Ian Hickson, Editor of the HTML 5 Specification.



Do the browser makers have too much influence on the spec?


The reality is that the browser vendors have the ultimate veto on everything in the spec, since if they don’t implement it, the spec is nothing but a work of fiction. So they have a lot of influence—I don’t want to be writing fiction, I want to be writing a spec that documents the actual behaviour of browsers.

Whether that’s too much, I don’t know. Does gravity have too much influence on objects on earth? It’s just the way it is.


This made me think of the current state of RETS.

via Daring Fireball

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  2. Funny, in my days of being a lawyer, I was taught to only ask questions to which I already knew the answer. In this case, though, I really don’t know the answer. Or, to put it more directly, I think the answer is that it depends on what part of the standard is referenced. For me, the only part that really matters is the data standard. I think the answer gets more murky when focused on data.

  3. Pingback: Real Estate/Buisness News » Blog Archive » Real estate data standards… « Vendor Alley

  4. Not sure how I missed this gem of a conversation yesterday!

    IMO, to answer Mike’s question, I think the MLS should have more input on the growth of RETS but so few are able (and/or willing) to participate. Sometimes it’s a money issue, sometimes it’s they don’t feel they are technical enough to contribute, etc. etc. MLS Vendors have been pushed into a position to make business and technology decisions for their customers by default – if your customers are not there you will act in a manner which you believe is most consistent with your customers’ needs. I think that process is part of what stalls the standard from progressing. There are a few MLS Vendors who are amazingly active in RETS but the vast majority (number of vendors, not the number of MLSs or number of agents they serve) are not involved with RETS. Unfortunately for them and for their customers and, ultimately, the agents their customers support decisions are made by a relatively small subset of the industry. When given that responsibility – sad on anyone who doesn’t contribute then wants to complain about lack of progress. I guess it’s like “if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch about who is in office”

  5. Developing data standards requires domain knowledge more than technical knowledge, and the technical knowledge regarding good data design practices can be supplied. The key issue is getting agreement on the data standards. Because that isn’t happening at the RETS (national) level, it is happening regionally and so we’re getting some some mini-standards. Maybe that’s the best we can do, but I still love my idea of a RETSipedia (an online tool for documenting, editing and commenting on the data standard) and am intrigued as to whether your Rosetta concept would serve that purpose.

  6. How could I have forgotten your past as a lawyer…the stink has worn off well. Funny thing is, I agree with the both of you. MLS’s and Vendors both have to take responsibility for where RETS is in it’s current form. What I think RETS needs is a benevolent dictator! (hint hint Pat…)One that can balance the technical, business and POLITICAL ends of the spectrum. RETS has been very succesful in transport, but until we get to a point that there is clear direction AND a sense of urgency on all of our parts, we will not get where we need to go. Maybe part of the problem is that no one has clearly defined what a standard gets all of us!

  7. Thanks, Art, I have special deodorant that helps me radiate the good and not the bad of having a legal background. 😉

    The sad thing is that I believe right now the benefits are apparent to everyone. Actually, this has been the case for two years at least, which is why efforts like CARETS, WIREX, and others have been successful. What hasn’t been successful is the leadership of RETS, which, of course, has included me. I spent the better part of the last two years harping on one theme — data standards — but made no headway because the RETS mandate from the NAR MLS Policy Committee usurped everyone’s attention and because we could not get a decent communication platform set up for RESO. The challenge is straight-forward: how do we extend the data standardization process CARETS and others have conducted via spreadsheet review of fields to a national scale? If groups can agree on common fields by reviewing spreadsheets together, I think the answer to the challenge also is straight-forward: instead of exchanging spreadsheets, we need a web site that allows stakeholders to collaborate on the effort (e.g., the RETSipedia idea). Such a site needs to be open and easy enough to use that all the stakeholders can see what’s happening and make their own contributions, while being governed by an overall process for final review and approval through RESO.

    We tried to create such a comment tool around schema, but the object-oriented nature of schema got in the way. This is why I’ve suggested we should step back from choosing a technology for representing the data until we have standardized data. Heck, we probably could use Google spreadsheets or something to get the job done but someone needs to be in charge of getting the site up and running and then publicize it.

    Once that’s rolling, getting particiation will be much easier (point them to a URL) and the RETS compliance deadline will be very helpful as well if the community has the wherewithal to include data standards as a requirement.

  8. Wow…I am agreeing with both Mike Wurzer and Art Carter at the same time!!!

    To answer your question Mike – yes, Bridge is working on an offering which is helping to map common field names to the RETS Schema. It’s one of those projects where we’d love input from a ton of people but we’ve been doing most of the leg work on our own. The goal is for MLSs and client vendors to be able to see that field A in the local system = FIELD A in the standard. We provide an API that alllows mappings to be read into any application, pulling the mapping b/w System A and the standard We’re trying to take the painful time consumption out of that process. Alleviating some of that pain will (hopefully) enable MLSs and client vendors to provide better, more robust services to the agent community since their time is not spent so much on this mapping business.

    And I agree with both of you on Leadership within RETS. I’m still serving on the Board and (can you believe this) I plan to run again next year. I think a lot of headway was made last year Mike. We had nothing to start with and we did accomplish a lot. What people forget is we had to do almost everything from scratch! And, again I agree, we got derailed a bit by the Policy stuff. One of the main things I’d like to see the Business side focus on is enforcing the rules around the RETS Trademark License Agreement – if a company is saying they “are RETS”, they sure as heck better be! I think that raises the bar and gives some faith back into the products using the logo. I also think the Standards (Technical) side of RESO should be focusing on a real Road Map which includes rapid progress on data standards.

    A few other things I’d like to see…a directory of RETS products and resources (revised Wiki) and more support documentation. The docs have been a goal of the Education and Outreach WG but we’ve spent most of our time explaining the Policy and writing presentations to explain the Policy. Now that that is “behind” us…perhaps we can reshift our focus and get done some of these things we’ve (I’ve) been screaming about for years!

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