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Logging into a RETS Server

By Ron Goff
on June 18, 2004

Ring Ring, I pick up the phone and hear “I need to put my real estate properties on
my website, can you do this. I do not want to input them twice, once in the MLS and
again on your our own site.” ‘Sure,’ I say, and hang up the phone. Now what. After
hours of trying to parse through an MLS listing on the internet with unsuccessful
results I stumble upon RETS.
What is this? Well it is a standard that all companies offering MLS listings online
must comply with. It is basically a way to query their data base of property
listings and receive text or xml output to parse through and place into a database.
It is a very easy and fast system with up to date information, if you can figure out
the log on process.
You will first need to contact your local RETS/MLS and get a username and password
that will get you access into the RETS system. You may even need to get your client
who will have to be a real estate agent using the local MLS to call and verify that
you need access. The RETS is usually a free system and is supposed to allow the
sharing of information freely to sell properties faster to a greater audience. Ever
wonder how companies like homefind.com and realtor.org get the listings? One word…
Some RETS systems use a basic authentication, which is like that gray popup box
which pops up on secure directory, which of course is easy to enter into. But on the
whole these systems use a Digest Authorization process. This process of logging and
establishing a session is a lot more secure and more difficult to crack. This
article will discuss the basics of establishing a connection to this type of server.
Hang on for a quick ride into the world of digest and MD5!