By Cass Herrin, Director of Data Services at MoxiWorks
One of the most exciting and least understood developments in real estate over the last five years has been the increasing pace at which the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has driven the adoption of data standards across the industry.
What are real estate data standards?
As you probably know, technology vendors and brokers receive “feeds” from MLS organizations and those feeds supply listing information to the technology products used by brokers. These MLS feeds provide all the information available to brokers about a listing. Historically, writing software to handle these feeds has been complex and time consuming. Adding a new MLS to a product could often take many months. RESO’s push for the adoption Data Standards is making that process much easier.
An example might help: the most common piece of data provided by all MLS organizations is the MLS Number. At one point, a few years ago, we identified nearly 30 different ways this single field was named in the feeds we used. For a software company dealing with MLS Listing information, that meant the code needed to be written to account for each of those ways. It also required that new code be written anytime a new MLS was added to a product.
Multiply that scenario times the 150 data points an average feed provides and you get some idea of how inefficient and error prone that process could be.
With the increasing adoption of RESO Data Standards across the industry, brokers and vendors like MoxiWorks can bring a new MLS to market much faster and more importantly, devote more time to building new, innovative products.
In the past, the complexity of MLS data and the rules that govern it dissuaded companies from entering the real estate technology space. Standards lower the barrier for entry into this market and increase competition, which should result in brokers having access to a growing variety of innovative products. Essentially, if you want a better world, you should definitely be in support of standardization.
Is that all?
Not quite. While standards are an extremely important step forward in increasing innovation and driving down costs, the complexity of the MLS rules that govern feeds and the way data may displayed also hinders innovation.
We would like to see the industry standardize not only the types of data provided, but also the rules around how feeds are provided and how data may be displayed.
We recognize that protecting broker’s listing data is the responsibility of the MLS. The origins of MoxiWorks are as the technology department for a large brokerage. We are still owned by three brokers. We have always understood the important role that the MLS plays in this industry.
But we also know very well that MLS data licensing and display rules slow down innovation across the industry.
A final example: If the same broker or vendor has both a back-office tool and IDX sites, is it really necessary to have two separate feeds, one for each product? Or even worse, is it really necessary to have two feeds for every customer using those products in that market? Surely data duplication carries more risk for inaccuracy and error than a single feed with rules that support multiple applications? Complicated feed rules make for software that is more complicated to build and maintain. More time spent doing this means less time focused on improving existing products or building new ones.
Like creating standards, this won’t be easy work, but we already see many progressive MLS that are providing models for how to streamline this process. Through the efforts of CMLS and NAR the display of Sold Listings on IDX sites is nearly ubiquitous. Certainly, that can serve as an inspiration to do more!
What these real estate data standards mean for brokerages
We believe all of this will support the ultimate goal of making sure that brokers have control of their own data and where that data can be sent. Historically, MLS have been focused on making sure that a listing doesn’t end up somewhere unintended – a valid concern, but we are in a different era now, one where there are so many different advertising platforms and productivity tools available to brokerages.
That choice should be in the hands of the broker. The broker’s choice on where listings are distributed is something all of us; brokers, vendors and MLS organizations, should work to support. Solid Data Standards and simplified, consistent MLS rules can help make that possible.
The home buying journey begins when someone takes a minute out of their day to conduct an online search. In fact, 90% of home buyers search online during the process, according to the National Association of Realtors. People are busy and they want to know every detail of a home before they take the time to go see it. That means agents need a mobile-friendly website that allows consumers to easily and efficiently get the information they need.
IDX websites are the new standard when it comes to real estate websites. If a website doesn’t have IDX, it’s more or less worthless. It sounds extreme, but it’s true. IDX search is the peanut butter to the website jelly.
What are IDX websites?
IDX stands for “Internet Data Exchange,” which simply allows agents and brokers to show MLS listings on their websites – a real estate website must. A key part of MoxiWorks productivity is the integration with your MLS. Now with over 200 MLSs, we have a dedicated team that works with MLSs to ensure we have the most up-to-date listing data. We believe agents deserve and need an easy to use website, no matter the level or extent of their tech savviness.
Your Website – Easy as One, Two, Three
In our never-ending efforts to make agent’s lives easier, we created a website tool – MoxiWorks Agent Websites – that makes it easy to drag and drop just about anything, anywhere on your site. Not only is it easy to set up, but it also has these key features:
1. Responsive Design
These agent websites are easy to navigate, look great, and work seamlessly on all sized screens. That means whether your future clients are looking on their iPhones, iPads, laptops, Androids, etc., your site will always look flawless.
2. Custom Pages
Custom pages allow agents to give their website a unique twist. Agents want to differentiate themselves & showcase their expertise. Show your in-depth knowledge of a specific neighborhood or area in your city, cater to the typical lifestyle of your clients with new restaurants, sporting events, school districts, and more. The options are endless and you can build out your pages however you’d like them to be.
3. Lead Capture
Just like an agent’s sphere, leads are an integral part to a real estate business. There are multiple ways a new visitor to an agent’s site can connect with the agent, & when they do, they show up in Moxi Engage as a new lead.
And guess what? Our very own moxiworks.com is built on the exact same tool as our agent websites. That’s right. We practice what we preach.
Below is a short video of how easy MoxiWorks Agent Websites are to set up! Watch us build a custom page: