Back in 1999, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) teamed up with technology experts and soon rolled out RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard). With the advent of RETS, each MLS in the US and Canada has what’s called a RETS data feed. The RETS data feed contains all the listings within a respective MLS and is what IDX (Internet Data Exchange) companies (like iFoundAgent) use to put housing listings on real estate websites for consumers to see.
For years, as an IDX company, iFoundAgent has had to download the whole MLS listing database via the respective RETS data feed per MLS we service to our own server, then synchronize our database to match changes per MLS database on a regular basis (in some cases every 15 minutes) to keep listings up to date on our customers’ websites. With this in mind, listing data on not only our IDX, but our competitors’ IDXs is typically a few minutes behind what agents have access to directly in the MLS.
Additionally, given the lack of standardization of the data between MLSs, we’ve also had to normalize corresponding housing criteria like Bedrooms (versus Beds etc.), Bathrooms (versus Baths etc.), Interior Levels (versus Interior Stories etc.) and all the rest between each MLS database to get this information to coherently display on our client websites. This has carried a tremendous amount of programming effort and has led to an increased (and quite frankly unnecessary) expense when expanding into other MLS areas.
RETS Great but Not a Perfect System
While RETS was an exciting and tremendous advancement for the real estate industry because it made the viewing of listings on real estate websites financially possible for all agents across the US and Canada, it wasn’t a perfect system and its existence has ran its course. RETS wasn’t perfect because there wasn’t a set standard for how each MLS should comprise its respective RETS data feed. Consequently, with over 800 MLSs at one point, there were over 800 different RETS data feeds for IDX companies, agents and brokers to navigate. Without going into too much detail this has led to a lot of unnecessary expense and frustration on the part of brokers and agents over the years because it has led to problems like not being able to show listings from more than 1 MLS on a single website, or the time lag as a few examples.
The fragmented RETS data feed system is changing and it’s changing rapidly. What’s happened?
In recent years, RESO (Real Estate Standards Organization – the loosely formed technology group that NAR teamed up with back in 1999 to come up with RETS) has been working to standardize the listing data feeds (RETS) from each MLS and has successfully developed a way to do that with what is known as the RESO Web API (Application Programming Interface).
The genius of this new system in our eyes is three-fold: 1. all listing data will be the same across all MLSs – which will allow iFoundAgent to more easily grow into new metro areas, 2) IDX companies won’t have a time lag, therefore, all listings will be real-time, 3) because of the standardized data feed it will be much easier to display listings from multiple MLSs on one website provided the agent/broker is a member of those MLSs and the IDX company is an approved IDX vendor of those respective MLSs.
As an iFoundAgent Customer – what does this mean to you?
For iFoundAgent customers, where possible we’ll be tapping into your MLS agent account to access your contacts such that you’ll be able to import them directly into your iFoundAgent lead manager where you’ll be able to build market update campaigns for them directly in your website. We’re also expecting to be able to import all the searches you’ve saved in your MLS account into your iFoundAgent website. ARMLS will be the first MLS coverage area where we’re expecting to tap into your agent account in the MLS. All other coverages areas that we service will join ARMLS as this process is allowed and provided for by a respective MLS.
In response to these recent industry advancements, as of September 2019, iFoundAgent is currently adapting its software to be RESO compliant to engage with the new RESO Web API by the end of November 2019 for the REColorado Denver MLS area and the end of December 2019 for the ARMLS Phoenix area. All other MLS areas that iFoundAgent services will be migrated to the RESO Web API system throughout 2020.