About RETS

What is RETS?
The Real Estate Transaction Standard is a common language spoken by systems that handle real estate information, such as multiple listing services. A common language enables computers like the one on your desk to receive information from many different real estate systems or MLSs without being specially "trained" to understand the information from each.

Standards like RETS exist in many different fields. Sometimes, the standard simply adopts one of many pre-existing languages that everyone agrees to use. For example, air traffic controllers at international airports all speak English, no matter what their native language, so pilots are guaranteed that they need learn only one language to fly anywhere in the world.

RETS, like many computer standards, is a language that was built for a specific purpose, but the goal is the same: to have all computers that deal with real estate information "speak" the same language, so that you can use the same desktop computer program with any MLS that has adopted RETS.

For software developers and for providers of services like IDX sites, RETS means having to write programs to use only one language, the common language of RETS, in order to work with many different MLS systems. This means lower costs, more products, more competition among vendors, and faster implementations of new systems, all of which directly benefit people who work with real estate information as a living.

We offer a comprehensive overview for anyone who would like more information. The overview covers RETS from many different perspectives.

What Do I Do To Get These Benefits?
If you use a data access program provided by your MLS, the answer might be "nothing"
-- RETS happens "under the covers", in the same way that the standards that drive
the Web happen "under the covers". You see the results without having to grapple with the underlying technology.

If you work with an MLS provider who allows you to select your own tools, though,
you may have your choice of tools, including some that are completely free. Others
are available at discounted prices from some vendors who are completely new to the
real estate marketplace. More vendors are adopting RETS every month -- see the
Compliant Products list on this site for a list.

How do I get started? I am not a Developer...
Again, if your MLS provider also provides your access program, you might already be
started. But if you want to use MLS data in more specialized ways -- say, for creating
management or statistical reports -- you can try the free ezRETS, which can be used to import MLS data directly into an Excel spreadsheet, or other freely available tools
found on the Resources page. The Center for Realtor Technology is also an excellent source
for programs that help you access RETS and MLS data.

If you have a specific application in mind, ask for assistance from the RETS community
on the mailing lists. Community members, which include consultants, may be able to help
turn your idea into a competitive edge for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Get Started? I am a Developer...
If you're building a real estate solution that needs to access MLS
or other real estate data, building it with RETS is the way to get
the widest possible customer base. To find out more information on
getting started with RETS, visit the developer's page.

About This Site
This site is intended to provide information to developers and association users of RETS compliant products. The RETS Community provides an on-line forum and meeting announcements. The standards documents themselves are available from the Documents page. You will find links to Word and PDF versions of the standards documents, including all XML DTDs used with the standard. If you are a software developer, there are additional resources for you in the Resources section, including running demonstrations. The Compliance page offers information on compliance verification tools as well as licensing the use of the RETS logo.

If you have trouble accessing or using any of the material on this site, or
if you have suggestions for improvements, please contact the RETS Webmaster.

Press releases and upcoming event information should be sent to pr@rets.org.