IDX (internet data exchange) is a connection between the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and an agent’s website that allows them to list properties for sale on their own webpages. This functionality makes it easy to generate leads from up-to-date listings without agents having to manually add them to their site.
Before you can use an IDX connection, you need a professional website. Fortunately, Real Geeks makes it easy to build a professional website using drag-and-drop edits, then add listing easily with a built-in IDX connection. Plus, each site is mobile-optimized and includes lead capture forms to collect buyer information. Learn more about the benefits of IDX website integration and check out the Real Geeks free demo.
History of IDX
The origins of IDX are rooted in the internet boom of the early 2000s. Agents and brokers with new-found access to the World Wide Web began creating their own websites to build brand awareness and generate buyer interest. For several years, however, adding listings to websites in order to boost real estate lead generation was a manual operation; agents had to input each listing themselves and update those listings when information changed.
While listing sharing already existed—the National Association of Realtors (NAR) claims collective property databases, known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), existed as far back as the 1800s—most were not digitized or accessible online. Throughout the 2000s, however, this changed. As the NAR explains, “Over 90% of real estate firms now have websites and the most common feature on their websites is property listings.” This is thanks to online MLSs.
While digital MLS listings made it easier for agents and brokers to add properties to their websites, it was still a manual process—until the creation of IDX. Shortly after the development of online MLSs, the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) was developed to help automatically link MLS listings to individual websites. With a monthly subscription, agents can now link listings from MLSs to their website to ensure properties are updated regularly and automatically.
How IDX Works
Setting up an IDX service and using it to connect your MLS to your website is an easy way of ensuring you have a regularly updated lead generation tool. To set this up yourself, you will need to gain access to an MLS, subscribe to an IDX service, then add necessary plugins or shortcodes to your website to display listings.
First, make sure you have access to an MLS in your farm area. While some listing information from MLSs is available online for free, access to all available listing information—including full property details, seller information, and listing history—is only available to NAR members. To sign up to become an NAR-designated Realtor, visit its website and follow the instructions under the “Membership” menu tab.
Next, you will need to sign up for an IDX service. If you also need a website, consider providers that offer IDX connections in addition to complete site-building services, such as Placester or Real Geeks. Once you pay required fees, connect your MLS and build your site using simple editors, complete with listing modules. If you already have a site, sign up for an IDX service from a provider like IDXBroker, then use a plugin or shortcode to add listings to individual webpages.
Once your MLS is successfully connected to your website using IDX, your listings will automatically be updated with the latest listing information, saving you time on regular updates. Additionally, many IDX plugins offer features that promote engagement, like maps and advanced search and filter options. With this kind of dynamic, in-depth information, buyers are more likely to reach out about properties that meet their needs.
IDX Real Estate Costs
A real estate IDX service costs between $39-$69 per month, per user. There is also a one-time setup fee of $99 per user to verify credentials. It should be noted, however, that some brokers pay the IDX connection fee for their agents; this is often covered by a desk fee.
These are the three fees associated with an IDX real estate website:
- Monthly fee: The monthly fee for an IDX connection varies depending on what service you use and the number of seats (or accounts) you need. The range is $39-$69 per month.
- One-time setup fee: IDX services charge a one-time setup fee for agents/brokers to be entered into the system and for their credentials to be confirmed. This fee is usually $99 per person.
- Brokerage fees: Brokers often include IDX access for agents who want to build their own website, but will frequently charge desk fees to cover the cost of access.
Agents can expect to pay between $39-$69 per user per month for IDX unless their brokerage provides it for them. There is an additional one-time setup fee of $99 to make sure agents qualify to use the MLS. For agents who need an all-in-one solution for building a website, running ads, and displaying listings, it would be worth considering Placester or Real Geeks because IDX is included in the price.
4 Top IDX Real Estate Service Providers
IDX service providers most often include the service that connects an MLS to a website as well as the plugin or widget needed to display listings on a webpage. While some services allow you to display simple listings without much customization, others include dynamic listing display features such as search results displayed on a map, social media integration, lead generation forms, and CRMs.
Here are 4 top IDX real estate service providers:
IDXBroker is the most well-known and widely-used WordPress real estate website IDX provider in the industry. With social media integrations and WordPress compatibility, IDX Broker is a feature-rich provider at $39.95 per month, per site with a $99 setup fee. It should be noted that IDXBroker is for the tech-savvy agent, so you might want to try another option if you are looking for simplicity.
2. Diverse Solutions
Diverse Solutions—once a Zillow company—costs $39.95 per month, per user with a $99 setup fee. The IDX real estate connection offered by Diverse Solutions specializes in searches using Google Maps; search results show up on a map to give buyers a clear sense of property location.
iHomeFinder is for agents who want drip marketing tools included with their IDX service for $44.95, plus a $99 setup fee. The real estate marketing tools and CRM included in iHomeFinder allow agents to track leads and stay engaged with drip email campaigns throughout the sales process.
4. Showcase IDX
Showcase IDX is the right option for agents seeking lead generation tools as part of their IDX service. For $59.95 (no setup fee), Showcase IDX offers agents the ability to offer users account registration, route leads to other agents, and track leads as they come into the included CRM.
Rules for Using IDX
In order to ensure agents and brokers utilize IDX fairly, the NAR has compiled a list of rules and regulations for IDX use. To ensure you are in compliance, be sure to check with your MLS to confirm rules for listing properties in your area and what may or may not be included in those listings.
Here are some of the primary rules for using IDX:
- Agents/brokers should not post a listing to their MLS, accessible via IDX, if the homeowner explicitly states they do not want their property listed.
- Agents/brokers are responsible for updating their own listings to be sure all IDX-accessible properties are up-to-date.
- Agents/brokers must not provide information on properties listed in the MLS to anyone who does not have approved access to the MLS.
- Agents/brokers must not add false or misleading information to their listings in an effort to generate buyer interest.
The primary goal of IDX regulations is to ensure accuracy of listing information and protection of homeowner data. Always check with your MLS to confirm their listing regulations and reach out to the NAR if you have questions about IDX compliance.
Benefits of IDX Real Estate Services
IDX services are incredibly beneficial to agents and brokers; the ability for buyers to search for open properties and easily submit their contact information makes lead generation easy. Also, many interested buyers expect an agent or broker’s website to include listings; doing so makes the site seem more well-rounded and professional. Finally, IDX services make staying on top of listings easy for agents as property information is updated automatically.
Here are five benefits of an IDX real estate service:
- Property search: With easy property search functionality, potential leads are able to find properties that meet their needs far more easily that sifting through a massive collection of unorganized listings. IDX offers a wealth of search options, with some plugins featuring advanced filters and search parameters.
- Saves time: Agents can spend hours trying to find the right properties for buyers who may or may not understand their budget, expectations, or wants. An IDX search function allows the buyer to spend their time looking for properties before contacting the agent for a showing. Also, listings are automatically updated so agents don’t have to waste time constantly updating the properties displayed on their site.
- Professional appearance: In the digital age, buyers expect to search for properties on a real estate agent’s website. It feels unprofessional if an agent does not provide a robust list of up-to-date listings, especially as listings reflect the specialties and market focus of an agent. An IDX connection makes showcasing listings easy.
- Convenience: Buyers expect to search for properties on their own time. If, for example, a buyer is trying to find properties over the weekend, they don’t have to wait to contact an agent until business hours; they can search an agent’s IDX website 24/7.
- Generates leads: When a buyer finds a property on an IDX-enabled website that they want to tour, the buyer will contact the agent. This allows the agent to follow up with property details and other properties that match their criteria, increasing interest and moving the lead closer to a sale.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is an IDX website?
An IDX website is a site that features automatically updated properties from an MLS. Featured property information might include the number of rooms, location, price, and size. Some agents use the IDX to connect to their existing website, while other agents and brokers use a website solution like Real Geeks to both build an IDX-enabled website and add MLS listings.
Do I need an IDX connection for my real estate business?
You should have an IDX connection to the MLS on your website to make sure users can search for up-to-date properties. Without an IDX connection, agents will need to list and update their property lists manually to provide accurate information.
Is there an IDX a plugin for WordPress?
Yes, there are several IDX plugins for WordPress. They include a wide variety of features, including built-in CRMs, marketing tools, and social media integration. Basic WordPress plugins are pretty easy to install and use, but if you encounter problems, you can reach out to a freelancer through Fiverr for help setting one up.
Bottom Line – What is IDX?
Real estate IDX is a connection to an MLS that allows agents to display all of the properties for sale in their ZIP code on their website. By using an IDX real estate feed, agents can keep their website updated with the most recent property information and give potential buyers the ability to search for properties that meet their criteria.
While some agents will only need an IDX service for their existing website, others will need an all-in-one, IDX-ready site builder, ad manager, and marketing platform. Real Geeks provides these capabilities, complete with an easy-to-use site editor, website templates with built-in lead capture forms, a CRM, and many marketing tools. Learn more about the real estate website IDX and lead generation services available through Real Geeks by experiencing their free online demo.