The RETS Way to Green MLS

Those that are interested in a tipping point for residential energy efficiency often look to real estate, and Multiple Listing Services (MLS) as the Holy Grail.

Slowly but surely, one MLS at a time is adding fields for green features.  The last official count in 2010 showed that about 15% of the 850+ independently owned and operated MLS offered at least one green field.  Another 10% were planning to add fields. But anecdotal information since then indicates that some of the planning MLS have tabled the idea, and some of the live Green MLS have pulled fields.

This happens with an inventory backdrop where a McGraw-Hill green construction study is predicting rapid updake with 29-38% of the new construction market likely to be green by 2016.

But fret not about this growing chasm between changing inventory and the pace at which MLS fields are keeping up.  Because almost magically and behind the scenes the standard that keeps data flowing in the MLS world offers a simple, effective and live solution!

The Real Estate Standards Organization manages the Real Estate Transaction Standard known as RETS.  The standard exists to benefit consumers:  the more places a listing shows up on the Internet, the better a client’s chance of getting it sold. RETS ensures that listing data can flow from MLS to brokerage site to classified site to intermediary.  That might look like the Chicagoland MLS, RE/Max, and Trulia respectively.  And each of those data users has their own field set.  Let’s say that each has a field for bedrooms. The field names might vary from Bd1, 1stBdrm or BedOne.

RETS is the data exchange standard that organizes this chaos and allows each of these different data users and their unique field sets to make sense of each other.

In May the RETS Data Dictionary was published and it defines ten green-related fields.


Before RETS green I’ve heard stories of supportive MLS execs trying to sort out lists of over 100 possible green fields on four pages. And keep in mind that an MLS executive’s most important job is keeping listings to a standard 8.5 x 11″ page! So hundreds of green fields just doesn’t work.

But with RETS we’ve changed the interest in Green MLS.  The ask to the MLS is no longer:  “Let’s figure out Green MLS, shall we?”

It’s simply, “What do you need to implement the handful of RETS green fields? How can we help?”

My client CNT Energy is pioneering work to make implementing RETS green as simple as possible. Watch for more information on this exciting development here and from CNT Energy. Or, contact me for more info.

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