Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT: Article

Standards in the Real Estate Industry

Standards in the Real Estate Industry

The fever for new XML specifications for almost anything imaginable has hit the real estate industry. Companies that are actively pursuing some niche in this industry have realized the need to create and adopt standards for communication. As in other industries, however, competing XML standards are emerging, keeping any one standard from reaching a critical mass of adoption and fruition.

This article explores the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) for the real estate industry. I'll talk about how some of these standards can leverage Web services technologies such as SOAP and WSDL. I'll begin by taking a look at the landscape and various XML standards in the real estate industry.

Industry Landscape
Adoption of XML standards will provide a common vocabulary and increase the interoperability of the Multiple Listing System (MLS) data and the different users that access this data on a daily basis, such as realtors, title companies, home insurance companies, and end users looking to buy or sell a house. This will also foster an increase in competition among software vendors seeking to serve the real estate industry. The emerging XML standards are intended to be used over the Internet and can leverage various Web services standards such as SOAP and WSDL for increased interoperability. A critical aspect of these standards is safeguards to protect intellectual property (IP) and the privacy of all involved in a real estate process.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is the largest professional association for people involved in all aspects of the real estate industry, with more than 730,000 current members. In 1999, together with several technology leaders, the NAR began an effort to make access to MLS information easier. The Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) is an open standard for accessing and exchanging real estate information between all the players involved in the real estate process.

There are several other standards in this space. The RELML specification was first announced in the summer of 1998. This version of the draft is currently implemented in OpenMLS's Real Estate Listing Management system.

The Data Consortium is an open- membership group of more than 50 companies and associations whose goal is an open source standard namespace for the commercial real estate industry. They have posted a namespace with 13 key elements to support XML streams and Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operations to a relational database. This includes an explanatory guide and dictionary.

The Alliance for Advanced Real Estate Transaction Technology (AARTT) announced an initiative to create open standards for data exchange within the real estate industry in order to streamline the residential real estate industry; this initiative is called CRTML (Comprehensive Real Estate Transaction Markup Language).

The increasing number of standards leads to the lack of adoption of a single standard. XML is a great technology that provides the opportunity to develop several standards. However, if the industry does not adopt one standard, XML can't be used to its full potential.

Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS)
RETS is the standard gaining the most momentum and it appears to be the most comprehensive standard that can influence the real estate industry. RETS is a collection of several documents and tools.

  • Real Estate Transaction Standard Protocol Specification, version 1.5 (draft 2): This document describes the RETS protocol and transaction set. RETS defines a series of computer interactions called "transactions" and serves as the definitive reference for developers who implement them. It establishes the parameters for each specified transaction, both upload and download, as well as the expected behaviors and results that compliant hosts and clients must be able to manage, including error codes. The specification also includes developer notes to explain technical details and a change process document to define how the standard will be administered.
  • Real Estate Transaction Standard XML DTD (RETML): Version 1.5 of the XML DTD for working with the Real Estate Transaction Specification.
  • Real Estate Transaction Standard Metadata DTD: The XML DTD for exchanging metadata between systems or between clients and servers.
  • RETS Reference Implementation: A complete implementation of a client and server written in Java.
  • RETS IDX Client: An implementation written in Visual Basic.
  • RETS Compliance Tool: A scriptable compliance testing tool in Java. The tool accepts scripts written in XML that test the interaction of a client or server against predefined responses.

    RETS Dissected
    Let's take a closer look at RETS. RETS defines two major components - a RETS server and a RETS client. A user accesses a RETS client to access MLS data. This client could be a Web site that is accessed through HTTP, a thick VB client, or another client or server system that uses Web services as the RETS client. The RETS client initiates the appropriate request to the RETS server, usually over the Internet. The RETS server responds with data formatted to the RETS specification. There are open source implementations of RETS clients and servers available. Figure 1 shows the architecture of a typical RETS request-response cycle.

    I recommend downloading and installing the reference implementation of RETS from the RETS Web site (see references). The Java version is relatively easy to use and very well documented. It runs on top of Apache Tomcat and uses MySQL as the database. However, you could adapt this to your environment and run it on top of an application server such as JBoss, BEA WebLogic, or WebSphere. Once you get this implementation up and running and go through the steps in the install guide that comes with the download, you will see the Property search screen (see Figure 2).

    After clicking on the search button, you will see a search results page as shown in Figure 3.

    Underneath these simple JSP screens the reference implementation is using the RETS standard to exchange data. Listing 1 (available at www.sys-con.com/xml/sourcec.cfm) shows an example of an XML listing that is returned through the search function.

    RETS and Web Services
    RETS can be used in the context of Web services. Wrapping a RETS request or response in a SOAP message is trivial. Exposing the services in WSDL that some niche company in the real estate space provides is also a straightforward task. What's more interesting is what the concept of Web services brings to the real estate industry in addition to the standardization of the data exchange format.

    Web services provide the communication endpoints to a service. They enable a transaction to be run asynchronously and a service to automatically discover and interact with new services without prior negotiation. Okay, there you have the buzzwords and phrases for Web services.

    The adoption of Web services allows realtors to automatically find and understand how to interact with several of the MLSs in their area. They can use Web services to upload their listings in a simple and consistent way to all the MLSs that have exposed their interfaces using WSDL, and support the SOAP and RETS standards.

    Complete Web services implementation has been targeted for RETS 2.0.

    Summary
    I've discussed the current state of XML technologies and standards for the real estate industry, including a deeper look into the real estate transaction standard, and talked about the reference implementation provided with the RETS. I've discussed at a conceptual level the application of Web services with the RETS specification. There is tremendous potential and need for standardization of communications and data exchange formats to enable greater interoperability of different real estate systems.

    References

  • Mittal, K. "Web Services and the Real Estate Industry," Web Services Architect: www.webservicesarchitect.com/ content/articles/mittal01.asp
  • Real Estate Transaction Protocol: www.rets.org/
  • More Stories By Kunal Mittal

    Kunal Mittal is a consultant for implementation and strategy for Web services and services-oriented architectures. He has co-authored and contributed to several books on Java, WebLogic and Web services.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
    In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
    The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
    Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
    The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
    "I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
    SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...