What is IDX and why you should use it on your real estate website

 In Blog

If you are starting out in the real estate business, the opportunities are a lot more vast than 20 years ago. The upper hand you have now is that you can make money online by creating a directory website and allowing people to search and advertise properties on your site.

This is possible through IDX integrating websites that allow the general public to search for MLS listed properties and let real estate business owners display on their own websites properties registered in an MLS database.

If you are not familiar with MLS and IDX terms, you should know that you will frequently encounter them when starting out an online real estate business. Let me try to unfold these for you and you will soon get the hang of it.


But first, a brief history fact:

Real estate agents have an age-old custom of mutual support, and this goes all the way before the Internet era. The first MLS was set up by realtors in the late 1800’s as a means of repaying each other if they helped to sell a property.


What is MLS?

MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, which is a significant database of properties created and regularly managed by real estate professionals. This is not a single or nationwide entity, in fact, we can describe MLS as a collection of different regional databases.

Associations of realtors or brokers may own an MLS System, or it may be an independent service. Each MLS System covers various areas from a single city or a county to large national regions.

MLS is the go-to source for real estate listings, so it is the best way to make your property available to a large number of visitors.  Real estate agents have access to MLS only by registering and paying for membership which allows them to upload and download data.

How do you access the MLS data: by acquiring the needed software which is usually provided by private software companies. Due to the fact, there is not a single authority in MLS there is not a typical data format between different systems. That brings us to a need for a particular system meaning IDX.



What is IDX?

IDX is an acronym for Internet Data Exchange, a blanket term used to cover policies, standards, and software under which real estate professionals can display the MLS data on their websites and share to the general public.

IDX also goes by the name of Broker Reciprocity as realtors exchange permission to display each other’s listings on the internet. This reflects the historical practice of cooperation between brokers.

The term is more commonly used to describe the data feed of listings provided by an MLS System. MLS Systems make property listing data available to IDX vendors who will make it possible only for members of MLS for display on their websites. Vendors cannot provide IDX to non-members or for purposes other than displaying their properties on the member website. Keep in mind that some boards only allow IDX for brokers and offices and not individual agents.

The implementation of IDX on websites varies from board to board but the most frequently used IDX options are an iFrame widget, FTP or the RETS.



RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) is a particular XML based framework introduced by the Real Estate Standards Organization. The goal is to help standardize the way software interacts with MLS data. RETS allows for an efficient download of MLS data, and there’s a broad variety of tools and libraries for working with RETS data.

While working to achieve success in real estate, one should not forget about following the rules and guidelines.

Some regulations come with IDX system which brokers should follow while sharing the IDX properties on their website.

Here are the primary prohibited uses:

  • Modifying the information included in IDX listings to make it more sellable
  • Sharing the listing to outside parties not taking part in the IDX exchange
  • Displaying listings on a website that isn’t approved by MLS
  • Posting a seller listing without the consent of the property owner

Despite the tight rules regarding IDX, it indeed offers many advantages for real estate business owners.




What is the advantage of an IDX website?

A real estate website with integrated IDX listings will bring a significant advantage over business competitors. This means more property listings which will bring about more valuable content on your site.

Allowing your visitors to search and find the properties by themselves is the best way to grow your site’s usability and trust. And that will undoubtedly lead to more sales which are a real estate primary goal.

Our WP Residence and WP Estate themes are compatible with iHomefinder Optima Express IDX and dsIDXpress plugins. They allow you to embed live real estate listings into your website’s pages using the plugins’ shortcodes and widgets.

iHomefinder Optima Express IDX is the most innovative plugin of this sort, and it has a cool aspect and unique features. It can be installed separately from the theme, and it works with our WordPress themes without conflicts.

The dsIDXpress plugin is straightforward to set up and works fast. You can download and install it like any other WordPress plugin, and there’s only one field to fill in to activate all of the plugin’s features.

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