Thursday, January 10, 2008

My thoughts on the recent Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo! news release...

Zillow has officially posted a news release about "the adoption of a new standard data format for the distribution of real estate listings online." Titled:

Yahoo!, And Trulia Adopt Common Real Estate Listings Data Standard

Some of the key points that I want to highlight:

Leading online real estate companies Yahoo! Real Estate,, and today announced the adoption of a new standard data format for the distribution of real estate listings online. With this standard, real estate franchisors, brokers, multiple listings services, and other listings providers will be able to distribute their listings data to several of the leading real estate sites in one common format, making it easier to get critical information to consumers faster and more efficiently.


With this new standard, it will be much easier for brokerages and listings providers to distribute their listings in one format to the largest online real estate companies.


The data feed specification will be based on the XML format and will comprise all the requisite components of a listing, such as address, price, square feet, beds, baths, and additional descriptions of the home. Where as today, brokers and listings providers would need to create upwards of a dozen different formats for one listing, the new standard model will significantly reduce the amount of time spent preparing the content for distribution online

and finally...

The companies participating in the new standard will work in close collaboration with the Real Estate Standards Organization to ensure that the data specification interoperates with the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS).
[emphasis added by me.]

I guess the most important question I have in my mind, what is wrong/missing/etc. with our current Listing XML schema? Don't make something that "interoperates" with RETS.... use RETS! And if you need something added/changed, let's talk about it. If an entirely new payload needs to be developed, let's consider it.

I was really excited when TechCrunch posted an announcement concerning Zillow and included:

The other big news is that Zillow is joining Yahoo Real Estate, Trulia, Oodle,,, and others in adopting a standard way for brokers and multiple listings services (MLSs) to send in their real estate listings in a feed format. That way brokers can use the same data format for all the different real estate search engines and Websites. It is called the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS). That should make it easier for brokers to propagate their listings everywhere.

But then David Gibbons from Zillow posted this comment:

Erik -
A minor correction; RETS is not the standard listings distribution format. RETS is a real estate data standard used for broader use cases than just listing information. We have however partnered with the RETS group to ensure that these standards will be interoperable. (emphasis again by me)
Which prompted TechCrunch to make this correction:
[Correction: RETS is actually a different, pre-existing, standard that the new listing feed standard will interoperate with].

Is everyone confused now? I am. In my opinion, RETS is not a "different, pre-existing standard" to the one that Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo! "plan to launch ... later this year. " It can be the exact same thing.

I know that Mike Wurzer (RESO Board Chairman) is meeting with ZYT while at Inman Connect NY and the discussions are just beginning, but I wanted to comment on the press release today and let the Real Estate Data Community know that there are other options.

RETS is in use in several hundred MLSs already, which means thousands of brokers and agents have already invested in data distribution tools based on RETS, and would rather have that investment be used by ZYT instead of having to start all over again. If you feel that you would benefit from ZYT using RETS versus creating a separate protocol, the best way I see to make your feelings known is to email the address they set up specifically for this project


  1. I agree. It seems only logical to use the existing RETS structure (With tweaks if necessary) instead of recreating the wheel or a hubcap to fit the wheel.

    I am glad I stumbled across your blog tonight and look forward to reading more in the future.

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