Wednesday, November 28, 2007

RETS RESO Board off to a great start...

Just came from our first conference call. Man, what a great group of smart people, I was honored to just listen in. The group is made up of a great cross-section of the real estate technology industry. The names are officially posted here, but here they are again:

Technical:

Sergio DelRio (T4Bi)
Jaison Freed (FBS)
Paul Hethmon (Clareity)
Dan Mills (MarketLinx)
Dan Woolley (Dominion Enterprises)

Business:

Kristen Carr (RMLS FL)
David Harris (First MLS)
Chip McAvoy (First American)
Gregg Petch (MRIS)
Michael Wurzer (FBS)

Some of the first steps we hope to accomplish:

  1. Get a full-time Executive Officer (EO) who will be the first employee of the RESO Corporation, a wholly owned non-profit corp of NAR. So if you or any one you know would be a great candidate for this awesome opportunity, contact Mark Lesswing.
  2. Evaluate our current workgroup structure, and decide which ones are working well and which ones need to be restructured. And appoint an official Chair and Vice-Chair of the committees that will be formed from the working groups.
  3. Decide on the proper naming of RETS2 and RETS 1.x. Most of the community agrees that the two are enough different that they both have a purpose in existing long term. So their names should not indicate succession. Maybe RETS 'apple' and RETS 'orange' (you get my drift).
  4. Set some Goals for 2008. With the NAR MLS rules now requiring a compliant RETS server (link to come to soon), RESO is perfectly suited to assist the MLS's in this effort.

Please comment on this post with any ideas and/or suggestions you have for the RESO Board, we are all ears. Also, join the active and passionate community that exists on the RETS Forums.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sneek Peak at Realtor.com's new "Find a Neighborhood" Site


I just got a pre-release bulletin today about Realtor.com's new "Find A Neighborhood" tool that will be announced at NAR next week. The link to it is:

http://neighborhoods.realtor.com/

The announcement stated that they will be launching with data for 34 areas. So far, it seems to pack in a lot of data that you can get in pieces on different sites. They make extensive use of Microsoft Virtual Earth throughout the different features. In Atlanta, one of the listed neighborhoods is Berkeley Lake in the Norcross area, which I will use for my feature links.

Heat Maps. Realtor.com has used the overlay method on Virtual Earth. Like this one that covers average home price

School Info. Realtor.com has partnered with GreatSchools to provide some ratings on schools. They even integrate the parent reviews feed from their site.

Active Listings. Of course you knew they would integrate the listings feed into this.

Crime Data. Ah the one statistic you love to hate. Be prepared now that your buyers can see the house they are interested in is specifically shaded a different color than the surrounding area.

I could keep showing, but go check it out for yourself because... you know your home buyers (and home sellers) will be...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Marketlinx's RETS Connector - a huge step forward.

As RETS continues to achieve greater and greater levels of adoption, the uses of the data retrieved will continue to expand. As I see it, RETS has 3 main sources of use in the data retrieval arena:

1. Client Tool access
2. IDX vendor access for daily website refresh
3. Ad-Hoc data needs.

Client Tool Access
Many of the client tools out there (WyldFyre, Top Producer, HP Real Estate Marketing Assistant) have a connection tool built in them to access data via RETS. Which makes using those products that much easier, eliminating to pull the data externally, format the file appropriately, and then import into each application.

IDX vendor access
This by far is the most popular use of RETS. The more traditional method for data access has been FTP. But RETS has several advantages over FTP:

1. RETS is near real time, you get the data with updates often just a few minutes before, whereas FTP is usually a static file from the night before.

2. RETS is only what you ask for. If you want the $10 million homes, then you get just those records. With FTP, you have to pull ALL the listings, then extract the ones you want.

Historically, RETS has been more difficult to schedule. FTP has several software packages that allow for you to schedule a daily data pull. Since RETS is real estate specific, you usually needed to construct your own (often complex) method to schedule a periodic data pull that does not require you to manually start.

Ad-Hoc data needs
This is the newest type of data access. As more and more agents/brokers/etc. get more tech-savvy, they will need more specific and immediate data needs. Being able to pull a specific set of records from the MLS, and analyze them using spreadsheet software such as Excel, will allow them to gain insight about the market that they would not have been able to in the past. In fact, CRT even has a RETS-to-Excel tool that does this job very nicely.

So... what does all of this have to do with Marketlinx's RETS Connector? Marketlinx has produced a RETS download client that provides a very easy to use, reliable, and robust method to access the data within your MLS. It has a "Metadata-aware" interface, which means it can interpret what fields and values an MLS has available to you by reading in the RETS Metadata.

And, more importantly, you can schedule this to run however often you need it to (and forget it). And yes, if you install this on a server, it will run as a service and not need to be run under a user session.

Bottom Line, if you are an agent/broker who is a member of an MLS that offers RETS, download this and give it a shot. RETS Connector is primarily designed for customers of the MLXchange or TEMPO systems, but is written to comply with the specification, so should concievably work with any RETS server.

Alternatively, MRIS (the largest MLS in the country) has developed an equally powerful RETS client called Conduit. Try them both out, and see which you like better...