Brokers Use MLS
Various brokers and agencies within a given MLS can upload their listings to the MLS to allow their peers to download them on their sites. If the MLS in question also has a publicly-accessible website, its members can also frame the listing data on that site onto their own platforms.
Of course, while collaboration is the aim, some semblance of order has to be maintained to protect the system from abuse. As such, if you or your agency wish to display IDX on your site, you would have to formally notify your respective MLS. Once approved, the MLS must also be granted full access to your IDX integration to help ensure that you do not violate any relevant rules or codes.
What is IDX?
IDX is also known as “broker reciprocity”, another hint at its collaborative agenda.
That said, IDX is more commonly known as a family of digital tools for searching and manipulating listing data…all on your own website! IDX stands for “Internet Data Exchange”, and IDX in real estate is a National Association for Realtors (NAR) policy for displaying and navigating listings within a certain multiple listing service (MLS). NAR’s policy is based on a desire for greater collaboration among realtors, which in turn ensures that clients get quick and efficient service.
Furthermore, each participating realtor/agency can exert varying degrees of control over the data they share on the MLS. In other words, you can add, edit, or remove your listings at any time. Another extension of this control is the fact that your listings must be presented as yours if they are displayed on another realtor’s platform. This makes it impossible for another broker or agency to hijack your listing.
For clients, IDX allows them to view listings from many different brokers all in one place. However, the customer’s sensitive data will only be shared with the brokers the customer chooses.
What is IDX integration?
IDX integration is simply the setup of an IDX tool (usually a plugin) that displays MLS data such as property listings. IDX is most commonly integrated via the use of WordPress plugins from a vendor.
As far as IDX vendors go, few are as popular as iHomeFinder and IDX Broker, both of which add seamless listing search and sorting capabilities to your website. These two vendors, in particular, are a great choice because they are the most likely to be able to connect to your particular MLS without a fuss.
The setup process is pretty straightforward, and you’ll be up and running in no time. One key requirement during sign-up is official documentation verifying your status as a member of your claimed MLS.
Once you sign up and subscribe to the vendor of your choice, you will be granted access to a WordPress plugin that facilitates the integration. Once the plugin is installed, you’re all set.
Of course, while IDX integration is easy to set up, you need a clear idea of how to use the tool to get the best out of it. Luckily, this multi-purpose tool offers you a bit of freedom for bespoke integration.
For example, you can set up your integration in a way that reflects the kinds of properties or clients you are primarily interested in. Townhouses for young adults? Holiday mansions for wealthy globetrotters? It’s all up to you.
With IDX integrated into your site, you will have access to up-to-date listing information from your MLS. As soon as another MLS member updates their respective listing data, you can refresh the database and have those updated records displayed on your end as well. This is a major advantage over the mega listing sites that often have loads of outdated listings.
One potential sticking point for some realtors is the financial cost of IDX integration. Most vendors charge monthly subscriptions, with many offering various packages. Subscriptions can reach north of US$200 in some cases, so you really need a strategy to maximize the tool's efficiency otherwise it's just money down the drain.
On the flip side, many will agree that you need to spend money to make money in the real estate business. Additionally, with more and more brokers making use of IDX on their sites, many up-and-comers regard IDX vendor subscriptions as just another cost of business.
IDX Integration and the Modern Realtor
With around 1.5 million realtors operating under the NAR, the real estate industry is a pretty crowded one. Standing out from the crowd is the key to sustained success and IDX is one of the newer resources that can help with this.
Having IDX listings displayed on your website gives your clients the convenience of viewing many listings in one place. It also benefits you by increasing the likelihood of clients staying on your site for longer. The longer they stay on your site, the more they are exposed to your other services and other content on your platform.
Uploading your listing data can also help your website bypass search engine optimization problems. As stated earlier, your listings are always presented as yours even if they are posted on another broker’s website.
Therefore, if a more popular broker in your MLS displays one of your listings, there is an opportunity for clients to access your website via that avenue. This is one of the more exciting aspects of IDX, especially for smaller brokers. With enough hits like this, your site could find itself rising up the SEO ranks.
Of course, you also pay it forward by “crediting” other brokers for the listings you display on your site.
The rise of IDX has also allowed brokers to take advantage of clients’ frustration with the big listing syndicators, who often take weeks, if not months or years, to update information. Many clients find themselves in the annoying situation of pursuing listings for properties that are, in reality, no longer available.
With IDX, listing info is reflective of what's occurring on the ground. Once one broker makes an update, every other participant in the MLS can work with the same information and not waste clients’ time.
Finally, as the subject of data and personal information heats up in society, the general public is becoming much more careful about data sharing. A website with IDX offers clients a more personal experience compared to giant syndication sites, which makes them feel safer sharing their data with you.
IDX is a revolutionary tool that seeks to take the real estate industry, as a whole, to unprecedented heights. At the same time, it serves as a way to break the current status quo and minimize the barriers of entry to the world of real estate. IDX integration also offers clients a much more reliable, convenient, and secure browsing experience as compared to the giant syndicate sites.
It is safe to say that IDX is a certified game-changer that has barely scratched the surface of its potential.