Oh, What a Tangled Data Web We Weave

Oh, What a Tangled Data Web We Weave

Oh, What a Tangled Data Web We Weave

There you are, excited because you just nailed your listing presentation. You successfully demonstrated your unique value proposition and confidence in representing the seller to the best of your ability and getting them the most for the sale of their home.

At this point, have you ever wondered what happens when you click “save” while adding your listing in the MLS? How does your listing go out to your website and the hundreds of other websites that display homes for sale? In today’s connected world of Internet, smart phones and iPads, this surely can’t be too difficult or complicated, right?

Depending on the size of your market, there might be hundreds, if not thousands of properties accompanied by tens of thousands of photos that need to be shared with others. Each listing, depending on the property type and amenities, may contain hundreds of different data fields stored within the MLS database.

Keep in mind that our expectation for all of this data to be constantly updated on all websites so nothing short of 100% accuracy in available listings are visible to your clients and prospects will suffice. There is nothing more frustrating for buyers and sellers to find inaccurate data online. The last thing we want to continue to tell them is that the properties they are interested in are actually not available. So how often of updates is often enough? Weekly, semi-weekly, daily, several times a day?

I find myself intrigued with the complexity of the task, and at the same time, cringing at the daunting level of complexity in creating an elegant (and scalable) solution to handle this incredibly tall feat.

If that was not daunting enough, let’s look at how this scales. Let’s look at how to obtain data from the other 900+ MLS providers across the country only to find out that each MLS has different ways of storing and organizing the data. There’s no consistency in the data with regard to the names of the fields, the data type (e.g. numeric or text) or minimum required fields for a property. It’s analogous to having 900 Microsoft Excel files, all with different column names, missing columns and different column ordering and then trying to merge them into a single combined file.

Enter the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) which is comprised of individuals dedicated to helping develop, promote and maintain data standards for the real estate industry. RESO has created a “data dictionary” containing more than 800 data fields that NAR has mandated to be implemented by January 1, 2016. While this is not being positioned to bThere you are, excited because you just nailed your listing presentation. You successfully demonstrated your unique value proposition and confidence in representing the seller to the best of your ability and getting them the most for the sale of their home.

At this point, have you ever wondered what happens when you click “save” while adding your listing in the MLS? How does your listing go out to your website and the hundreds of other websites that display homes for sale? In today’s connected world of Internet, smart phones and iPads, this surely can’t be too difficult or complicated, right?

Depending on the size of your market, there might be hundreds, if not thousands of properties accompanied by tens of thousands of photos that need to be shared with others. Each listing, depending on the property type and amenities, may contain hundreds of different data fields stored within the MLS database.

Keep in mind our expectation is for all of this data to be constantly updated on all websites, so nothing short of 100% accuracy of available listings visible to clients and prospects will suffice. There is nothing more frustrating for buyers and sellers to find inaccurate data online. Who enjoys telling clients the properties they are interested in are actually not available? So how often of updates is often enough – weekly, semi-weekly, daily, several times a day?

I find myself intrigued with the complexity of the task, and at the same time, cringing at the daunting level of complexity in creating an elegant (and scalable) solution to handle this incredibly tall feat.

If that was not daunting enough, let’s look at how this scales. Let’s look at how to obtain data from the other 900+ MLS providers across the country only to find out that each MLS has different ways of storing and organizing the data. There’s no consistency in the data with regard to the names of the fields, the data type (e.g. numeric or text) or minimum required fields for a property. It’s analogous to having 900 Microsoft Excel files, all with different column names, missing columns and different column ordering and then trying to merge them into a single combined file.

Enter the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) which is comprised of individuals dedicated to helping develop, promote and maintain data standards for the real estate industry. RESO has created a “data dictionary” containing more than 800 data fields to create consistency and continuity across MLS fields and feeds. NAR has mandated every MLS operating under NAR rules to implement this standardization by January 1, 2016. While this is not being positioned to be the magic solution in completely solving this mammoth task described above, it is a big step in the direction of simplifying part of the process. There are other aspects (e.g. administrative and paperwork approval process) which have their own unique challenges,pain points, and create complications, but I will save that for another time.

I was asked to speak on several panels at the Spring RESO Conference in Chicago which is being held at the Intercontinental June 2nd – 4th. I am honored and excited to be able to share some of the challenges we have experienced in our quest to help our brokers, agents and clients, as well as share some of the best practices we have learned over the years.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure and an update from the RESO conference!

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