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Another option is to go with one of the new mirrorless cameras. They are a lot small, but offer very comparable results to a DSLR, but in a much more compact package. Nikon has a new J1 for $599 http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-J1-10-30mm-VR-Black/dp/B005OGQY5U/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1325866999&sr=1-4
Wow, big boy question right there. I first developed a RETS import software about 8 years ago, where there was practically no information available except for the RETS spec (http://www.realtor.org/retsorg.nsf/pages/docs). This is really low-level programming though. These days, some frameworks are available importing the data. Try PHRETS https://github.com/troydavisson/PHRETS
By the way, if you tackle programming the feed yourself, keep in mind that feeds often "break" when MLS boards make changes to them and forget to notify their vendors in advance. When that happens, fixing it will be your first priority no matter what else you planned to do that day.