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

If you are starting 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.

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 1800s as a means of repaying each other if they helped to sell a property.

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


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 a 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 it with 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 to 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.


What is 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 wide 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 the 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 RESO

RESO or the Real Estate Standards Organization is the latest technology for MLS to share data on the web. By implementing RESO Standards, there is a new unified solution for all MLS to use the same database structure.

RESO integration is the latest technology and continuously improves how MLS share data. Just like older IDX solutions, organic RESO API Integration creates opportunities for applications such as MLS Import to pull listings from your MLS provider straight to your website.

The biggest advantage is that RESO API makes it possible to also call for updated data on the fly, which leads to this being the fastest and the most accurate IDX solution on the market.

With RESO, you can finally store all data, optimize SEO benefits to the fullest, and control every aspect of your data. MLS Import plugin, for example, gives this freedom for both our themes, WpResidence and WpEstate, and allows clients to publish properties from their MLS to these themes as if they were added manually. It’s the only solution that can be seamlessly connected to MLS from the United States and Canada. It imports and syncs data, but the most important is that it serves images directly from the MLS Content Delivery Network (not your local server)

MLS Import Plugin is a RESO API based solution that allows you to create a real estate website with MLS Properties (same as if you would do with an IDX plugin) but provides a smarter way to integrate these listings in your Real Estate theme.


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 MLS Import for a seamless MLS integration, iHomefinder Optima Express IDX, and dsIDXpress plugins. They allow you to work with MLS listings in different ways.