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3 Integration Best Practices for APIs in Real Estate

Rising Importance of APIs in Today’s Business Climate

Gartner Research declared in a keynote speech, “The future of business is composable.” Businesses must be able to nimbly and quickly reassemble their internal capabilities and tools to adapt to rapidly shifting markets if they want to thrive. 

Many organizations are leveraging the power of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to strengthen their position as a composable business. IBM notes that the power of the API, “enables companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments within their companies.” 

APIs & Real Estate

These powerful, information sharing tools are prominent across all sorts of organizations, and real estate is no exception. Several real estate APIs, like Zillow and SimplyRETs, offer quick and easy access to valuable MLS data. On the commercial real estate side of things – companies like BlueSuit (that’s us!) offer automated data extraction services that return information via API to support faster workflows and insight into internal data archives. APIs in real estate power listing data, valuations, analytics, insights and more. 

Make Your API Integration a Success

While APIs are valuable tools to help all sorts of businesses enhance their composability, there are some best practices teams ought to be aware of as they start introducing APIs into their workflows. An API that is clear and straight forward to implement by a development team is key to success. Meanwhile, data users may not even know their system relies on an API; or care, but they will know that data is incorrect, missing, or not what they need.

No matter how well the integration is technically built, if it’s not helping, it won’t be used. 

There are 3 best practices you can follow to set your business on a great path to integrating APIs into your commercial real estate data extraction workflows, and towards a more composable future. 

1. Know the Value of the API

You’re investing in an API for your team and business because it will offer you some sort of advantage: Know specifically the value the API is offering your company. 

Is it enhancing the capacity of your team? Is it supercharging the data in your analytics? Is it offering some tangible improvement to daily or weekly workflows? 

Knowing what value you need from your API will help you understand the requirements around the flow of data, and communicate how the integration is going to your team and business overall.

2. Know How & Where Your Team Needs Data

You’re going to leverage the power of an API to help your team and improve productivity – but make sure there’s a collective understanding of what data is needed by your team, and where that data needs to land to be useful and relevant. Some helpful questions to ask are: 

  1. Where is the data coming from? 
  2. Where is the data going?
  3. Is there data being transformed? How?
  4. Is the data part of a live workflow, or static?
  5. Who’s checking the data?
  6. What sort of authorization do you need to consider?
  7. Who will be using the outputs of the API?
  8. What are the security standards you need to follow?
3. Communication is Key: Before, During, and After

Any usable, business-level API ought to have well written documentation for your technical team. This technical manual should outline what services the API has, the different endpoints available and their required parameters, and any useful implementation instructions needed.

Additionally, there should be a record of your team’s workflow: Where the data is coming from, what that data is, and how it maps will be essential to know ahead of time for a successful integration. 

Having this documentation for the API, alongside with a record of what your team’s needs are, will be useful down the line when it comes time to make changes or shift needs as your business adapts to new or changing markets.

There will be some bumps as the integration goes forward. A bad experience with a new tool early on might set any team against the tool – especially if they are unaware of ongoing testing or possible beta experiences before something is finalized. 

The communication shouldn’t stop after the integration is complete. You’ll want to track metrics as well. How is your team performing? How is the API performing? 

Keeping the communication lines open will help you and your team understand the needs as the markets shift and work changes. Knowing when needs change as soon as possible will allow you to remain agile and seamlessly shift with business needs.

After All, You’re Investing

Leveraging the power of modular tools, including APIs, will provide resilience and agility to your organization – as long as the integrations are well done. Specifically, commercial real estate data extraction tools can be a powerful lever to companies looking for that advantage. 

From the perspective of providing an API as a service – we’ve written a whitepaper on how to improve integrations with Lean UX principles. Interested in how API integrations with automated data extraction works from our point of view? Check it out: API Design and Integration with the Application of Lean UX Principles

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