RETS...Can't You Get That From Mosquitos?Posted in Northwest Inhabitants By Austin Smith, Monday, February 23, 2009.
There's been a loud hullabaloo in the industry lately concerning IDX feeds. Unfortunately, the staggering amount of people who are unreasonably excited about IDX is equaled and possibly even surpassed by the amount of folks who couldn't tell IDX from their own left hand. I myself was included in the ranks of the un-knowledgeable until I received enlightenment not twenty minutes ago. Now, verily do I pass unto you:
Methinks that most of the confusion surrounding IDX has to do with the fact that IDX is an acronym. Allow me to define IDX, and while I'm at it, some of IDX's acronym'd friends: IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, and is nothing more than the concept of displaying MLS information on a website. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and is the old standard for networking MLS information. RETS stands for Real Estate Transaction Standard, and is the new standard for networking MLS information. Think of it like this: IDX is what you do, RETS and FTP is the way you do it. Let's break these down a little further:
There are several problems with the FTP standard, hence NAR's mandate concerning the obligatory RETS switch. First off, FTP feeds are only updated once in a 24-hour period. This means that there is a one day turnaround from when an agent updates his/her listings to the point at which the information is made available through the database. The extreme variation of data in FTP feeds has also led many organizations to simply 'framing' a listing search engine into their website; this results in a serious blow to their SEO, not to mention aesthetic appeal. FTP has been described as 'clunky' since information must be aggregated and verified from Point A and B, then delivered to Point C.
RETS, on the other hand, is a real-time feed that is updated in, you guessed it, real time. RETS cuts out the middle man (Point B), allowing for one-stop info exchange between MLS offices. The "common language spoken by systems that handle real estate information" also makes life easier for website developers by standardizing data input. This means that a RETS feed will deliver the same data fields in Virginia Beach as it would in San Luis Obispo.
So Why Should We All Be Happy About RETS?
Beyond the peace of mind achieved by using tried and true methods (reliable and standard in any area), RETS has several role-specific benefits. Agents will enjoy an influx of available vendors to choose from that will augment their business by integrating with the agent's standardized MLS. For vendors, a switch to RETS means saved development time and resources, as well as a larger pool of market opportunities. In other words, an entire industry operating off of the same standard is one big possibility for tech vendors. Brokers will profit as well; due to the increased competition between vendors, the productivity tools available will only get more refined and more valuable. Office websites will be populated easier, and data will be easier to compile and manage for offices who deal with more than one MLS.
While the mandated IDX switch may be an administrative burr under the saddle of most brokers, it is undeniable that such a change will do loads for the productivity of the industry. I have a hard time seeing how someone might have an issue with simplified data sharing. Short and sweet, it benefits everyone involved: from vendors to brokers down to buyers. I'm with NAR on this one; this could pan out to be the crucial change the industry needs to begin correcting itself.