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
    In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
    An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
    Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
    20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
    Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
    DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
    Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
    SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
    Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
    With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
    Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
    "We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
    Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
    With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
    "We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
    The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
    In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
    The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...