Thursday, April 17, 2008

There Are So Many Web Sites To Find Real Estate Information … Are They All Accurate?

No, they aren’t, but that should improve in the near future. The Real Estate Standards Organization, RESO, has recently approved a standard format for distributing real estate listing information. The solution is known as Real Estate Transaction Standard, RETS, a process that simplifies sending real estate information by allowing brokers and MLSs (Multiple Listing Services) to send their data to multiple real estate advertising Web sites without dealing with different data formats.

This is the culmination of a coordinated industry effort that has sought such a universal solution since 1999. Until now technology and software vendors were not coordinated and there were many software codes that could not exchange information with one another. This Standard allows software developers to write their code so they may exchange information back and forth online. The RETS working group, sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, will continue to meet and update the Standard as technologies change and new vendors come to the group with new ideas. For the techie reader wanting to know how the Standard works, the data feed is actually a data pull that is initiated by the subscriber using the RETS interface. RETS is an XML based query language that gives a developer the ability to create custom queries to pull MLS listing data from an MRIS server.

The Standard will be implemented immediately by many of the partner organizations. A partial list of partner organizations includes many MLSs across the country, Move Inc., eNeighborhoods, sShowings, Google, Yahoo, Homescape, Oodle, RealEstate, Realtracs, Threewide, Trulia, Zillow, etc. This is exciting for consumers and real estate practitioners alike. More consumers than ever are seeking real estate information online, and the standardized data format will make it easier for Realtors to feed their clients’ property listings to multiple real estate sites in one form saving them time and expense. Realtors can also get information on the traffic of real estate listing websites with more than 500,000 unique visitors including unique visitors (new, not repeat), visits per month, average minutes per month, avg. page views per visit, total visits, and total minutes the site was viewed. This will allow them to place their marketing information most effectively.

Our Advice: Enjoy the many opportunities to study the real estate inventory online in any community in the United States from your computer keyboard. Each commercial site has a different objective so be aware of what information is being directed to you, and where you are being directed. Also, be very careful with the information you receive – all is not always what it may appear to be. When comparing properties it is important to involve a real estate professional that is familiar with the area as there are often mitigating circumstances in sales or listings that must be interpreted so you are comparing apples of the same color and variety to one another. A lot premium surcharge, property condition, ownership status, property characteristics, etc. can all have an impact on value and must be considered in the valuation process – whether selling or buying.

Different sites have different updating policies resulting in some sites being slow to update, i.e.- changed pictures, denoting a property as sold or off the market, price changes, etc. Use the Internet to get your general information then call your real estate professional for current specific information relative to your wants and needs.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or , email us at or phone 775-781-5472.

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