RETS Overview

RETS is a legacy real estate data standard based on XML that allows a developer to retrieve listing and roster data from an MLS system and replicate it to their own local database. Due to a number of technological limitations the industry is shifting away from RETS to a more modern solution; APIs. The primary driving force behind an API is the ability to not only retrieve many different kinds of data (listings, roster, contacts, saved searches, etc), but easily write that data back into the MLS system, thus creating deeper integrations with third party products. Additionally, if desired a developer can forego replicating data locally and instead make "live" calls to an API on the fly - resulting in savings on both hosting and infrastructure costs. To learn more about FBS's API offerings contact us at, visit our Spark API documentation or RESO Web API documentation pages, or register for a demo account at

Please Get Permission From The MLS First

This site offers support for developers using the RETS servers FBS provides to customers of its flexmls™ system. This site and FBS's RETS support is NOT how you get permission to access the RETS server. Instead, permission can only be granted by the MLS. So, if you do not already have permission, you must first contact the MLS, which, in turn, will provide you credentials.

Once you have credentials, this RETS support site can be used to help you use the flexmls™ RETS server for which you have permission. We have tutorials, troubleshooting tips and links to programs and tools to help you. You can also contact FBS's RETS support team.

What is RETS?

RETS stands for Real Estate Transaction Standard which is a set of documents describing how software developers can program their software according to standards agreed upon by the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO). The flexmls™ RETS server provides a private data interface that allows for the communication of real estate data between authorized computer systems. Various free and/or open source RETS programs and tools are available that allow for the easy export and use of this data, and because the flexmls™ RETS server is connecting to the same data source as the flexmls™ Web software that brokers and agents use, data pulled from the RETS server reflects live, up-to-date information.

Once you choose a RETS client (which sends requests for data) and have permission from the MLS, you're ready to start getting data. If you need further help, we have tutorials, troubleshooting tips and links to programs and tools to help you. You can also contact FBS's RETS support team.


How to receive notifications of feed changes
Learn about our notification system that can help keep you informed of changes made to your RETS feed.

How to retrieve photo and document names
Learn how to find and use the provider photo and document names from RETS GetObject responses.

How to efficiently replicate RETS data
This is a tutorial that explains efficient steps required to replicate RETS data to your own system's database.

How to retrieve high resolution photos
This is a tutorial that explains how to retrieve the HiRes type through GetObject requests.

How to retrieve supplemental listing remarks
This is a tutorial that explains how to retrieve the 10,000 supplemental listing remarks text associated with listings in flexmls.

Example RETS Session
This is a walkthrough tutorial on the requests and responses you can expect to receive back from the RETS server.

DMQL Introduction
This is a tutorial that introduces how to do basic queries using DMQL, the query language of RETS.

Best Practices: Photo downloads
This outlines some of the best practices to use when downloading photos from the flexmls RETS server (and RETS servers in general).