New NAR MLS Policy on RETS

Dec 10, 2007  |  Michael Wurzer

I wrote about this briefly just after the NAR convention, and want to reiterate that it’s important to get the word out about the new NAR Policy encouraging all MLSs to adopt the RETS standards. Inman has a great article on it this morning. (Too bad it will be behind a pay wall before the end of the day; kind of funny isn’t it, that Inman runs behind a pay wall?)

Does anyone have a link for the actual policy from NAR? I can’t seem to locate it. I know it’s only a sentence or two and simply says something to the effect that all MLSs should become RETS compliant by June 2009. Helping to define compliance will be the role of RESO, the Real Estate Standards Organization, which just met last week in Miami. As the newly elected Chair of the RESO Board, I will be working with the other Board members to both define and promote the RETS standards to make adoption as easy and broad as possible over the coming years.

Update (12/13/2007):

Here’s the language from the NAR MLS Policy:   “The integrity of data is a foundation to the orderly Real Estate market.  The Real Estate Transaction Standards (RETS) provides a vendor neutral, secure approach to exchanging listing information between the broker and the MLS.  In order to ensure that the goal of maintaining any orderly marketplace is maintained, and to further establish REALTOR® information as the trusted data source, MLS organizations owned and operated by associations of REALTOR® will comply with the RETS standards by June 2009, and keep current with the standard’s new versions by implementing new releases of RETS within one year of ratification.”

8 Responses to “New NAR MLS Policy on RETS”

  1. Chris Latko says:

    Do you know which version they are referring to? Also, which dialect of the standard they are talking about? RETS would be a *great* thing if all server implementations were equal.

    If NAR is handing down a recommendation (or mandate), then I’m sure we will see a lot more uniformity amongst RETS implementations than we’re seeing now. I’ll be happy to see FTP/SQL and CSV go away forever.

  2. Good question, Chris. The policy itself does not refer to any particular version but rather specifies that MLSs will stay current to the specification.

  3. Robbie says:

    Unfortunately, up in my neck of the woods, the NWMLS has stated, “NWMLS is not a Realtor-affiliated MLS and we do not follow the specific NAR requirements. Our objectives are set forth by the brokers on the Board of Directors.”

    I’m hoping the brokers on the Board of Directors, would rather have their IT staff and IDX vendors implement value added features instead of infrastructure.

    Perhaps, they think not supporting RETS provides a barrier to entry, so the incumbents can remain in power with less effort? Then again, NWMLS dropped feeds this year too, so it’s not the first time they’ve done something odd.

  4. Brian Bell says:

    Why would one want to drop a feed to That only limits free advertisement and exposure. Talk about shooting one’s self in the foot….
    But yes, Michael if you happen to run across the NAR link to the new policy online, please post!

  5. I see a couple of problems to the NAR Mandate approach: first, the Mandate Approach often does more to alienate the managers than to accomplish the good. Second, there are seldom any teeth in the mandates, and they go unheeded by many managers. And thirdly, one of the trends I see is the MLS becoming private, often to escape the NAR mandate hurdles and gain more direct control over policies and business decisions.

    I’ve also found that many MLS managers believe the vendor when the vendor says, “Oh yes, WE have RETS.” Chris Latko raises a valid point: RETS would be a *great* thing if all server implementations were equal. But what we found out in constructing the Michigan listing database project is that there are some vendors who boast RETS, and have a product which is anemic and virtually non-functional when put in a usage environment.

  6. I may be out of my league here, but I’ve designed a property database that supports my website and my data needs just fine. When I looked at RETS standards, it seems they’ve deconstructed data into 900+ fields; 900+ fields that are supposed to be “vendor neutral”?
    Over 2008 I will be examining the 200+/- fields I’ve used and see if they can translate into the RETS naming conventions. This is supposed to be more efficient? It looks like a giant pain in the rear end to me.
    On a related note my BOR will be looking to other vendors, vendors boasting “rets compliance” when I’d bet that every decision maker here doesn’t have the vaguest clue what RETS is all about. Our EO was recently wined-and-dined at the convention by a vendor boasting rets compliance. She came back to us describing rets as a grand schema for exchanging data with everyone from, to NAR, to lenders, to closing companies, to title companies and the like. She didn’t mention NAR’s ideal to exchange info between the MLS and Broker.
    Why the heck is NAR butting into data exchange relationships between the MLS and Broker anyway? It’s really none of their business. If the goal is to actually improve transaction management between all of those other entities I named AND between broker and MLS that’s another issue entirely.
    It seems to me that RETS, on it’s face, is nothing more than a vehicle to simplify export of property information from broker to mls, and from mls vendor to mls vendor, and from mls vendor to REALTOR.COM.
    Unchecked, this could lead to the “BIG BROTHER” of all MLS systems.

    Or maybe I am missing it entirely – after all I may be out of my league here.

  7. Steve, RETS is just what you describe, a standard way to exchange listing information. The standard can be used by any and all consenting parties. So, the standard can definitely benefit brokers, MLSs, transaction management vendors, and more.

  8. […] Get Past June 2009 Sooner Than Later.  In November 2007, the NAR MLS Policy Committee recommended a rule that all MLSs become RETS compliant by June 2009.  Though this policy has the potential to do great things for the industry and RETS over the long […]