Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Austin Board of Realtors, RESO, and Trestle initiative falls short

Austin Board of REALTORS, RESO and the CoreLogic Trestle Platform Offer Groundbreaking Free Data Feed for Developers

“According to Tim Dain, MLS Director of ABoR, who has been leading this effort, “The Developer Reference Server provides a solution that has been needed for years: free and easy access to data that allows for innovative development,” he said. “The Austin Board of REALTORS┬« is a forward-thinking, progressive Association and MLS provider, and we’re dedicated to this effort because of the direct benefit to our members as well as the entire real estate community.”

While this is a good step forward it is still waaaay short of what the industry needs. As I’ve written previously.

“2. Your initiative must include data access rights AND permission to sell. Make it an opt-out for MLS providers. One without the other will not scale. If I build something fast and it takes 6 months to get approval from your MLS committee to sell it, then these initiatives are essentially worthless.”

Let’s jump in to the future….




Hey, I got my new software up and running its really great. I’ve shown it to a few agents and they love it. When can I start selling it?

That’s great. Tell you what, our Technology committee meets next month, wait err, hold on…umm we already have a full agenda…


Yeah, we have to approve your software before you can sell it to our members.

Uh…okay…I guess. So how long is that going to take, do I have to do that in every MLS?

Yes, every MLS will have an approval process. Let’s see here, we are booked the next 3 months, and the board doesn’t meet in December, How does January 22nd, look?


Hello? Hello? Are you still there?


New developers will come only if the TAM (Total Available Market) is large enough. Currently the TAM is limited to one MLS at a time. Until that changes the “kid in the garage” will be building the next set of innovative tools for another industry.

  1. Interesting conversation, love my script. While not entirely accurate on our process, I get the point you’re marking based on a generalization of most MLS processes. I’ll be sure to let the 50 developers that were granted access in the first 24 hours know that they should walk away from this resource until we get more progressive. I’ll also inform both the established vendors and startups I. That group know that it’s essentially useless from your perspective.


  2. Greg – thank you for highlighting FBS’ innovation of the Spark Platform implemented in 2012. Also, thanks for explaining (in your cheeky sample call above), the tremendous value of a solution that delivers data access rights AND the permission to sell in one shot. The goal of Spark is to ensure that Brokers and Agents have the best technology tools possible so, it’s all-inclusive: wrapping up all everything necessary to empower developers to turn out cool products efficiently. At the same time, I want to say that it’s great to see the progress being made by what’s been accomplished and implemented by ABOR.

  3. I’m not sure I understand the article or the FBS plug. A developmental reference server with 1 year old data is about easy access for developers to conduct alpha, beta, and ongoing software testing/development.

    I’m sure RESO would be happy to have Spatk, RETS.ly, and others find an MLS willing to donate data under simple TOU for the development community. This isn’t a competition or endorsement of one platform or another, just a service that I believe is necessary. Simple and free access to MLS data for development use.

  4. The initiative is a direct response to the 100s of MLS data requests RESO receives monthly from developers who are unable to obtain the same level of developer access when contacting MLSs directly. Developers are caught in a data licensing loophole with MLSs, where MLSs will not grant access to MLS data until a product is fully vetted and in a production solution. Developers cannot create such a fully vetted production product without having access to MLS data to create it. The solution provides the exact resolution as requested by the brokerage and developer community, and it is the first of it’s kind. RESO has high hopes that other MLSs will follow suit and provide a similar developer access in the same light powered through RESO Standards. It would be spectacular to see multiple MLSs and technology providers embrace the “first” and expand upon it for the good of the overall industry and the local brokers within each MLS region. Considering that 90% of the MLS market’s data distribution platforms are powered by only a handful of technology providers, if the industry could grow to have developer access across multiple MLSs through the Spark Platform by FBS, RETSly and Bridge Interactive platforms by Zillow Group also powering some of Black Knight Financial Services MLS data distribution, SEI, Inc.’s Navica MLS platform, the Rapattoni MLS distribution via RETS & API and Dynaconnections Platform then developers would be able to strengthen their products for many MLS regions and be able to hit the ground running when they were ready for production. From an IDX Perspective, the NAR IDX MLS policy states “Requests for IDX feeds/downloads must be acted on by the MLS within five (5) business days from receipt”, so the developer with a broker customer and a new IDX based product can obtain access to the local MLS in 5 business days. This is just the start of a potential highly valuable “fast lane” for the industry in new product solutions and if the industry recognizes the value and keeps growing it will be beneficial for all stakeholders.

    There is a realization of the potentially painful approval process for access to MLS data for products outside of IDX. I envision that the Council of MLS is in the perfect organizational position to work with MLSs through MLS best practices and provide better education and guidance on how to manage a swifter approval process and standardize language to provide the MLS protection while providing the desired end result, new products and services to help the brokerage community transact listings. CMLS can also work directly with NAR MLS Policy Committee and the brokerage community to help expand the 5 business day IDX approval process out to other types of requests such as CMAs, CRMS, broker back office products and many more.

    I look forward to the day when developer access and a “fast lane” exists in the approval process for the brokerage community to MLS data in a RESO compliant standardized manner for all MLSs nationwide, promoting innovation and elevating transactional volume for the industry.

    At the end of the day, if the industry is not supporting the brokerage community’s needs and providing solutions to the real world challenges brokers face, why are any of us here?

  5. @Tim and @Jeremy As I said this is a good step forward. And I realize “permissioning” challenges are something you guys can’t do much about. But it need to be part of the conversation.

    I speak to new vendors all the time, and they think I’m kidding when I tell them what’s in store for them.

  6. Guys, I just submitted my request for access to the Developer Reference Server via the RESO wordpress form. What do I do now? Should I expect an incoming fax with the TOS or is it coming by mail?

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