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Technology continues to evolve in the multifamily industry with the release of the Multifamily Information and Transactions Standards initiative’s next generation data standards. Since the National Multi Housing Council launched the initiative in 2002, it has released seven voluntary and freely available sets of data standards covering such things as apartment operations, resident screening, property marketing and physical asset management.

The data standard creates a common language for software, enabling programs from multiple vendors to communicate correctly. With a shared multifamily data dictionary and an extensible mark-up language (XML) protocol, it has proven significant within the multifamily industry.

Industry experts say the standard can also reduce the cost of software development and data handling, make it easier to customize technologies, improves data collection and streamline business processes.

The latest version of the MITS Core Data Model-MITS 3.0 updates all the data elements that are central or core to each of the nine individual MITS standards, which will improve the efficiency of the standards and further improve the integration process,” says David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology for the National Multi Housing Council.

Industry standards give software developers a framework for development, which Caldwell says, “allow them to deliver more sophisticated products at a lower cost and a faster pace.” For apartment owners and developers, MITS-compliant software gives them the assurance that it will integrate with their existing programs.

Caldwell says a new custom data component within each of the individual MITS standards increase flexibility, “allowing software providers to respond to the specialized, custom needs of individual apartment operators without losing their MITS-compliant status.”

MITS is one of several ongoing initiatives to standardize data transfer between disparate vendors and processes within the real estate industry. Groups like the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate and the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, for instance, have both been promulgating industry standards in the hope of creating increased efficiencies and data accuracy.

More recently, representatives from leading online real estate companies Yahoo! Real Estate, Zillow.com and Trulia.com got together to hammer out the details for the new real estate listings data standard. The standard will enable real estate franchisors, brokers, multiple listings services and other listings providers to distribute their listings data to several real estate sites in one common format.

In addition to Yahoo! Real Estate, Zillow and Trulia, several other real estate sites are adopting the standard, including Homes.com, Homescape, Oodle, Point2 Technologies, RealEstate.com, Vast.com and vFlyer.

Tamara Berndt, product manager, residential portfolio of Yardi Systems Inc. and MITS technical committee chair, says MITS provides software developers “a common starting point,” reducing the time, cost of development and creating more time to focus on the apartment provider’s specific needs.

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