From a pure ‘progress made’ perspective, I think the most important thing to happen was adoption of the COVE Group’s standard field names into the standard. The idea here is that a RETS developer knows that when they want to query any MLS for the purchase or sold price, it will always be under the RETS name “ClosePrice” rather than SoldPrice, ClosedPrice, or anything else. COVE suggested standard names for 700+ fields. Now that it’s adopted to the RETS standard, if MLSs implement it on their own RETS servers, this would go a long way to making RETS easier to use for many purposes. Documentation for the adopted Standard Names is here:
Mark Lesswing (NAR CTO) proposed a “parallel” effort to further improve on Standard Names and to go beyond that, looking into standardized data definitions, including what is in each field rather than just what it is named. Mark also wants to look into more efficient transport protocols for RETS. I applaud this effort to scout ahead, though I disagree with his presentation of it as a parallel, separate effort, rather than as something to be explored through existing RESO process and workgroups.
The other major step forward for RETS has been the formation of the “Research and Development Workgroup” (R&D WG), a group in which I participate and which is led by David Harris (eNeighborhoods) and Rob Overman (LPS). To quote from the charter: “Historically, RETS and RESO has been a reactive organization, responding to changes in the Real Estate community and marketplace to assist in addressing the needs for its constituents to interoperate and collaborate. Unfortunately, RESO is often informed of opportunities to contribute too late to be able to assist in a timely manner. The purpose of the RESO Research & Development Workgroup is to solicit and review submitted business cases from the real estate community and identify how RESO can contribute to the benefit of that business process. The submitted cases will be reviewed with representatives from the impacted stakeholder groups to document specific goals and objectives. The resultant business case opportunity will then be submitted to the RESO BOD for approval and assignment.” Most of my blog readers will see this as an extension of what I was doing last year with my blog posts Completing RETS [http://www.realtown.com/mattcohen/blog/completing-rets] and Completing RETS: The Survey [http://www.realtown.com/mattcohen/blog/completing-rets-survey]. Using a more rigorous process of business analysis as the starting point for guiding the direction of the standard will be a good thing – finally a way for stakeholders to have a clear path to getting their business needs evaluated for how they might be met using the RETS standard is being put in place! During the meetings, we collected dozens of great ideas from attendees – just a starting point. Sorry, but it’s just a bit too early to list all those ideas out – it’s going to take many hours of the Workgroup collectively fine tuning them – but soon, I promise! Over the next few months the new Website Update Workgroup will be implementing a more formal online method to enhance business case collection, evaluation, assignment and so forth – and also re-organize the rets.org web site to be more useable generally. I’m vice-chair on this group, assisting FBS’ Troy Davisson.
Another good thing that happened during this meeting was the re-energizing of the Outreach & Education Workgroup, now led by Mary Frances Adams (TREND MLS) and vice-chaired by Jeremy Crawford (SANDICOR MLS), and I plan to work hard to assist them in their efforts. You can expect regular official updates out of RESO in the coming year, messages well written to describe how RETS is evolving to address the interests of different types of stakeholders and to further engage those stakeholders.
I was hoping for key high-level changes to be made during these meetings – finalizing the RESO organization itself and adoption of an intellectual property (IP) policy to protect the standard and those who participate in it from legal and monetary claims for RETS use. Having an IP Policy is also key if RESO wants to ally itself with other standards group such as MISMO and share IP. I was disappointed that these items were not completed at this meeting, especially the IP policy, which has been sitting around in draft form since 2007! I am advocating strongly for RESO to be more strongly staffed to complement and better harness volunteer efforts, and to that end for RESO to be community funded rather than only NAR funded. There was a commitment made to finalize both RESO incorporation and IP Policy by NAR mid-year meetings, but I’m not sure that’s realistic since those involved were not able to provide steps and milestones toward those goals when asked.
I don’t want to end on a negative note – lots of great stuff is happening at RESO. Hopefully the new RESO executive, Travis Wright, will be successful in continuing to improve the organization and the standards process. But meanwhile, the volunteers continue to work hard on behalf of the industry to improve the RETS standard, and good progress continues to be made.
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