Real Estate Lead Metadata Specification

Version 1.0


Purpose

The Real Estate Lead Metadata Specification prescribes a way to transport lead information from lead generating websites (such as real-estate search portals) to downstream consumers (including but not limited to CRM systems) by transparently embedding it within human-readable email using HTML meta tags.

Version 1.0.0 of this specification focuses on the transmission of "new lead" events.

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Background

An increasing number of people search for their home online. At some point, the potential homebuyer will contact a real-estate agent through an online form on a website. This could be a real-estate search portal or the agent's website. (The potential homebuyer is now considered a "lead.")

The website sends an email to a real estate agent with the lead's information (e.g. name, email, phone, property address, a brief message, etc.) The receiving agent generally puts this contact information into a database of leads. Historically, this has been a manual process.

Recently, many real estate software tools have created functionality to "parse" lead emails and automatically extract the lead information. This is a difficult and error-prone process for a variety of reasons:

When a software tool cannot properly parse the lead information, everybody loses. The real estate portal appears to be handing out bad leads, the real estate agent loses a potential client, and the potential homebuyer does not get the service he or she needs.

The Real Estate Lead Metadata Specification describes an industry standard approach for portals to communicate lead information with the goal of having 100% accurate transmission of lead details.

Embedding Lead Metadata

The key concept to this specification is the idea of transmitting lead information through HTML meta tags. A quick example serves best to illustrate this concept. An email that contains lead information should contain header fields as follows:


<!DOCTYPE html ... >
<html xmlns= ... >
    <head>
        ...
        <meta name="lead_information_version" content="1.0" />
        <meta name="lead_source" content="Realtor.com" />
        <meta name="lead_type"   content="Buyer" />
        <meta name="lead_name"   content="John Smith" />
        <meta name="lead_email"  content="jsmith@gmail.com" />
        <meta name="lead_phone"  content="703-555-1212" />
        ...
    </head>
    <body>
        ...
    </body>
</html>
            

Valid Fields

Field Name Notes Required Example Content
lead_information_version Version number of the specification. "1.0"
lead_source Primary source of the lead. Can be any value, but a search portal or lead vendor should choose a consistent value. If not provided, it is up to the consuming application to choose a sensible default value. "Realtor.com" "AgentWebsite.com"
lead_type The type of the lead. Consumer should assume a value of "Buyer" if not provided. Valid values are "Buyer", "Seller", and "Renter". "Buyer" "Seller" "Renter"
lead_name The name of the lead. "John Smith"
lead_email The email address of the lead. "jsmith123@gmail.com"
lead_phone The phone number of the lead. "703-555-1212"
lead_property_address The property address about which the lead is inquiring. "123 Main Street, Alexandria, VA 22314"
lead_mls The MLS number of the property address. "A5712345"
lead_message A message from the lead to the agent. "Hello, I am interested in... I have the following question..."
The specification also allows for up to 100 custom fields as follows:
lead_$FIELDNAME$ A custom field, such as lead_min_bedrooms or lead_max_price. Use of a custom field requires coordination between the producer and the consumer of the field in question. Any content.

Consuming Lead Metadata

Below is the recommended approach to consume lead information from emails that conform to the Real Estate Lead Metadata Specification.

Note that in practice, some vendors erroneously put meta tags in the body tag rather than the head tag. While this is not strictly valid HTML, the consuming application should still account for this case and search for meta tags anywhere within the HTML document.

To consume:

  1. Parse the HTML body into a searchable document object model.
  2. Search the document object model for meta tags.
  3. Locate a meta tag named lead_information_version.
  4. Verify that the value of lead_information_version is equal to 1.0.
  5. If successful, look for any other meta tags beginning with lead_. This is the lead information.

Industry Adoption

Move, Inc. and other companies' products are rapidly adopting the specification:

Acknowledgements

The Real Estate Lead Metadata Specification is supported by FiveStreet.com, Move, Inc., Realtor.com, and News Corp. The original specification was drafted by Eric Bashkoff in June 2014, with contributions from Rusty Klophaus.

This document is designed using the Skeleton CSS framework. This website is hosted on Github Pages.