Open Letter To Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, and Zillow, Encouraging Data Standards

Jan 2, 2008  |  Michael Wurzer

In the spirit of the New Year and as the newly-elected Chair of the Real Estate Standards Organization, I write this open letter to Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, Zillow, and all other sites seeking listing data from brokers. My purpose in writing is to encourage all of you to join together with the real estate community in supporting the Real Estate Transaction Standard (“RETS”). By focusing on a standardized data format together, we can make it easier for brokers who want to send their listings to your site to do so without duplicate data entry and extra expense in dealing with different data formats for each of your sites. We also can increase the accuracy and timeliness of the data being maintained on your sites.

The reason I recommend the Real Estate Transaction Standard to you is that the RETS community has already worked hard over the last few years developing detailed schema for listing and property information that can be leveraged to solve this problem quickly. The schema has been and continues to be developed with input from a broad cross-section of real estate brokers, franchises, associations, and their technology partners, including MLS vendors, IDX vendors, transaction management and electronic forms vendors, and others.

This vibrant community also welcomes your input as to how the schema can be adopted to your particular needs, such as providing a lighter payload like IDX. The RESO Board also recently chartered a new Transport Work Group to allow the new schema to be integrated into the already widely-deployed RETS 1.x systems and to create a new RESTful RETS implementation. The RETS community would welcome your participation in these and other efforts.

The goal we have is simple: Create standards that provide brokers efficient control over their listing data. With a single standard being widely adopted across the industry, brokers will be able to enter listings once and deliver them when and where they want, including your sites. This presents the opportunity for a classic win-win-win. The brokers win, you win, and the technology vendors serving the brokers in their data syndication plans win.

The time is right for all of us working in real estate technology to come together. The schema being developed in the RETS community is well-developed, with the remaining pieces scheduled to be finalized this April at the next trimester meeting in Philadelphia. This means there is an excellent opportunity for us to work together over the next few months to make sure the schema meet your needs. The RETS community is very energized to create lasting solutions for all those using listing data, including your organizations. Further evidence of the energy surrounding RETS is the recent adoption by the NAR MLS Committee of a new policy requiring all MLSs to adopt RETS by June 2009. As mentioned above, the vast majority of MLSs already support RETS and this new MLS policy, combined with your adoption, will help ensure that the most efficient data standards are both developed and adopted across the industry, which, of course, is the purpose of a standard.

The days of duplicate data entry caused by proprietary data formats can come to an end if we work together for the benefit of the data creators and owners. I will be at Inman Connect in New York next week and would very much like to meet with you to see if you’re interested in working together. You can contact me at mwurzer-at-fbsdata-dot-com and let me know if you’re interested in getting together at Inman or any other time.

Michael Wurzer, Chair
Real Estate Standards Organization

19 Responses to “Open Letter To Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, and Zillow, Encouraging Data Standards”

  1. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for making contact.
    Clearly we have aligned goals here as we also want to increase efficiency for our partners and make participation on Trulia easier.
    I’ll check with the team that will in Inman NYC and get the right people to connect. We’d be delighted to participate, help and offer our perspective.

    At Trulia, we hope to support all popular standards used by our partners. Ever since our launch in 2005 we’ve been one the biggest proponents of encouraging brokers to use feeds to market their listings. According to hitwise in September 2007, we were driving an average 11% of the in bound traffic to our broker and franchisor partners – here: . This is significantly more than any other real estate search site out there.

    Look forward to moving forward

  2. Excellent, Pete! I look forward to working with you and others at Trulia. I’ve always really respected what you have accomplished and can see you have a very bright future ahead.

  3. Mike,

    You are doing great things in your various roles. I have faith that you can move the standard’s effort forward by including players like Trulia, Yahoo, Google Zillow, etc. Let me know if I can assist in any way.

    Keep up the great work MIke! We appreciate it.
    Kevin McQueen

  4. Hi Michael. Steve Schultz here from Yahoo! Real Estate. Great and timely message. 2008 needs to be the year we make it easy and efficient for brokers to distribute their listings online.

    Since we started actively working with brokers (see the Realogy announcement last August, we’ve been working hard to improve our feed submission and processing systems.
    Based on ComScore’s traffic metrics in November, Yahoo! Real Estate surpassed as the #1 most visited real estate site and we’re committed to working with the industry to provide easy access to all the prospective homebuyers on our site.

    I’d be happy to get together at Inman, provide our viewpoint, and figure out how we make some progress.

    – Steve

  5. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for reaching out; let’s definitely get together to discuss further in NYC. I’ll follow up RE: logistics on e-mail.

    A single source of data input for all distributed listings would certainly improve quality of listings information and reduce the effort in maintaining listings. Zillow already supports two XML listings data formats to simplify integration effort for our partners. As we’ve discussed, we will also add additional interfaces as we see adoption or requests from our broker partners.

    More details on Zillow’s listings feed program can be found here:

    Looking forward to seeing you in NYC,


  6. Steve, thanks for getting in touch! I’ve also heard from Google off-line and, as you probably saw in the comments above, Pete Flint from Trulia is trying to line someone up on his end. I’ve also sent an e-mail to David G at Zillow to see if he can line someone up from there, I’ll then e-mail everyone hopefully today or tomorrow to see if we can coordinate a time where we can all get together next week.

  7. David, our comments passed in the ether. It looks like we have a good group going and I look forward to coordinating a meeting with everyone for next week. I’ll try to get an e-mail out tomorrow. Let me know if there’s a time that works better for you. I’m on a panel on Wednesday at 2 p.m. but am otherwise pretty open.

  8. Guys, I think that a discussion on permissioning from MLS providers is also a necessary conversation. I’m heading a new group (along with all my other responsibilities) called Dominion Data Services. DDS is going to be a central resource to handle all IDX feeds for Dominion companies, (eN,, Advanced Access, etc)

    Rules and policies are already in place for IDX feeds. But there is really no standard permissioning process for brokers who wish to syndicate their listings to any website they choose. I’ve had brief discussions with Kelly from Trulia and she agrees.

    eN manages IDX aggregation for RE/MAX International and soon for all Realogy brands. Because of this we built what we call an “IDX Resource Center”, which is basically a digital library of all IDX permissioning forms for every MLS provider in the country.

    So a “standard” permissioning process with the MLS providers should be one of the tactics. Be a shame if you could agree on the format of the data but have to go thru a bunch of Byzantine rules to get your listing out there.

    I’ll be in New York next week as well along with others from


  9. Greg, if you’re buying the beer . . .

    Seriously, I agree that IDX rules need standardization but that’s a much more difficult question than broker-directed syndication. IDX gets mucked up with all the DOJ blah, blah, blah, because of the “concerted action” and all that. These issues are not raised at all by individual brokers making independent syndication decisions, and so I think focusing on that first makes the most sense. We likely can hammer something out in a few weeks on that and the IDX issues will take more time.

  10. Real estate data standards in 2008

    To start the new year off right, Mike Wurzer composed a great open letter to all the public sites that expose listing data on behalf of brokers – including Yahoo!, Google, Trulia, and Zillow. It encourages the use of common data standards to make it e…

  11. Mike, It might be a bottle a gin instead of beer : )

    I should have been more clear, I wasn’t talking about permissioning process for IDX feeds, I was talking more about non-IDX feeds. At least with IDX feeds there are polices and procedures in place (albeit all different) for permissioning. When brokers want their data out of an MLS system it’s an arduous process, and a lot has to do with permissioning issues.

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  13. Michael, would happily get involved in this discussion. We currently accept a bunch of different feed formats including our standard feed (information found here: ).

    Having a data standard would be a great tool for RE professionals (and make things easier for us!).

    In the past, we have been involved in the discussion in the development of MITS standard in the Multi-housing industry. So, I hope we can bring added insight.

    Matt Corgan, our Dir. of Technology, will be attending as well.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  14. Douglas, I’d love to meet with you at Inman and will drop you an e-mail.

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