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What is the best method of customizing a site using RETS?

asked 2015-06-19 16:19:55 -0600

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We have designed and built a handful of real estate websites in the past and at present. We typically build custom CMS websites and use third party IDX plugins to pull in the real estate data. With that said, any third party IDX we have used just is not up to our standards and we're handcuffed by their limitations - making it very difficult to customize the interface as well as the way the data displays within the website. Not to mention most of them don't allow for some very simple functions.

I was told that by using a custom RETS feed, we would be able to take the data and basically customize it 100%. I would like to know how this is done? Where do we get the data? How can I learn more about using the RETS feed for a specific brokerage and pull the data into our website and then begin to customize how the data displays?

Thanks a bunch.

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answered 2015-06-22 10:17:07 -0600

updated 2015-06-22 10:18:18 -0600

Using a RETS feed to access MLS data requires the following steps:

  1. Obtain permission and credentials from each MLS you would like to download data for
  2. Create a database and ETL process on your side to host the data locally
  3. Create a download for the listing photos, or use the URL-based GetObject transaction
  4. Host your application on top of your local database

Breaking these down a little further:

Obtain permission and credentials from each MLS you would like to download data for

Access to RETS data is authorized through each MLS individually. Typically, there will be an agreement that you will need to sign regarding the use of the data. The MLS will provide you with a login and password for the RETS feed.

Create a database and ETL process on your side to host the data locally

You will need a database server along with a database schema to host the listings. If you intend to integrate with multiple MLS', you will want to do so in a fairly standard way. One way to accomplish this is by starting with the RESO Data Dictionary. While not all RETS servers support the Data Dictionary standard (yet), the industry is moving in that direction.

For more information, go to the RESO site:

Also, version 1.4 may be finalized later this year. Version 1.3 will give you a good starting point, though.

Create a download for the listing photos, or use the URL-based GetObject transaction

Here, you have two options. You can download and host the photos yourself, or utilize the URLs provided by GetObject with the location=1 request header. With the former, you will likely have hundreds of gigabytes of storage needed to host the photos. With the latter, you will simply link to the host images through the URL provided.

Host your application on top of your local database

This (along with the download and ETL in step 1) is where the bulk of your time will be spent, if you do not already have a solution. This will require you to write an application that uses your replicated RETS database as a backend for searching, reporting, prospecting, or whatever features you need to build on top of listings.

As far as searching and displaying data, the Data Dictionary format I proposed above will help with that. It provides a normalized view of the MLS data. Note that until the MLS goes through the process of conforming to the Data Dictionary within their system, your ETL process may contain a lot of value mapping and translation to get the MLS data into the Data Dictionary schema.

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answered 2015-06-23 18:13:24 -0600

mdean already outlined the steps that you need to take, basically. I'll add a bit because we were in the same boat...

We primarily use wordpress, but weren't satisfied with the plugins that were out there, or the costing associated. My clients typically want branded and highly customized high end looks, and not some sort of iframe thing that obviously doesn't match the site.

I'll compliment mdean's great overview with my actual experience, having built a MLS and RETS library, etc., and implemented it on a couple websites:

  • I ended up using phrets, because wordpress is php too; It facilitates most of the RETS functions you need, and is a handy library.
  • contact your regions MLS. Mine had some good resources to get me started.
  • get RETS Connector. It's free, and is REALLY handy for building your application (e.g. looking at data and metadata).
  • Unless you have a unique situation, be aware that a "RETS feed" doesn't mean you query against them in realtime. You most probably need to download a complete copy of the data you need to your own database. mdean indicates that, but most docs I found didn't make that perfectly clear. So, for my MLS situation, I download a complete set of data once a week, and updates once an hour [RETS makes getting updates easy, however].
  • Because you're storing the data, you will need to build and maintain a database, which means translating their dictionary to your own database. I wrote functions that takes only the classes and items i want to keep data load time/size down, build the table, and then do further rets requests to get the data and populate my local database.

I think the biggest takeaway I will give you is that the RETS feed is what you need for what you want, and get complete customization (excepting your local MLS requirements like displaying a broker reciprocity logo, etc.). BUT the trade off is that you will need to BUILD the IDX solution. RETS simply helps you get the data, but you will be in charge of grabbing it, maintaining it, and writing code to display it. It will be a fair amount of work; it's not just get the feed and done. Worth it, if that's what you want, however!

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answered 2018-01-05 21:54:58 -0600

I know this post is old but I’m having trouble finding out the Broker Reciprocity requirements. I have reached out to the local MLS and I can’t get a response back. Every broker in the MLS area all have the disclaimer and logo but I don’t know how to obtain this and use it properly. I am building this out for a broker NKY MLS.

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Asked: 2015-06-19 16:19:55 -0600

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Last updated: Jan 05 '18