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New Data Standards Will Dramatically Change Real Estate

WASHINGTON, DC. May 22, 1999.

The adoption of new industry standards for data exchange will dramatically change the way real estate transactions occur, Realtors were told today during a meeting of the Multiple Listings Service forum at the National Association of Realtors' Midyear Governance Meetings and Trade Expo. More than 6,000 Realtors and guests are attending the May 20-24 [1999] meetings.

In April 1998, the NAR board of directors mandated the forum to "facilitate the creation of data exchange standards for the industry in time for the Midyear Meetings, 1999." The forum met today to hear the recommendations of the task force representing leaders of the real estate industry and software and technology specialists. Richard Mendenhall, NAR first vice president and a Realtor from Columbia, Mo., who led the task force, explained the mission of the group, which was formed to define detailed technical standards for Internet-based communication and exchange of real estate property information. The draft technical standards have now been documented in detail in the Real Estate Transaction Specification or RETS, which has been published and made available today for public comment. "These standards must be goal oriented, must be implementable at a reasonable cost, and must operate in conjunction with most current systems," Mendenhall explained. "I believe the task force has accomplished this, and now we need to open up their findings for wider discussion and comment."

Adoption of the new standards will provide a common way to communicate Multiple Listing System (MLS) data and exchange that data between different users; involve far less custom-coded interfaces; and increase competition among software vendors seeking to serve the real estate industry. The standards are intended for use over the Internet using extensible markup language (XML) and are designed to provide safeguards to protect privacy and intellectual property.

In order to provide the best and widest input into the continuing development of the data standards, the definitions and documentation of the draft standards have now been posted on the Internet in a special directory where they are available for a 60-day public comment period, starting today. The site is located at The resulting comments will be considered by the task force in a series of meetings culminating in a formal NAR board of directors' vote on the proposed standards at the association's annual convention in Orlando next November.

NAR Chief Information Officer Dale Stinton said, "We're looking for the best way to develop these new standards, and we're asking everybody interested to be a part of the process, because in our opinion, that's the best way to do something well." Stinton reported that even though the standards are still in draft format, a number of major software vendors are already beginning to encode these standards into their software. "One day we'll wonder how we ever handled matters any other way," Stinton added. Stinton explained that publication of the draft standards via the Internet today was the beginning of an ongoing series of meetings with specialists and practitioners during the summer and early fall, hopefully resulting in presentation of the fully evolved standards by the time of the annual meeting in November. "There is nothing really surprising here," Stinton said. "Technology has and will dramatically change the way real estate transactions occur. This is just one more step in this ongoing process," he said.

The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest professional association, representing more than 730,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the Web site's "News for You" section.

SOURCE: National Association of Realtors.

Prepared by Robin Cover for the The SGML/XML Web Page archive. See also: "Real Estate Transaction Markup Language (RETML)."

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