Displaying your property listings online has never been more important — making IDX (Internet Data Exchange) extremely valuable for anyone in the real estate industry. A study from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 97% of homebuyers use the internet to search for homes and that online search is the top method that home buyers find their homes.
Surprisingly, only 69% of real estate professionals have a website. Most realtors and brokers post their listings on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a suite of private, regional databases for real estate brokers to share property listings. Real estate professionals pay for membership and share listings on behalf of sellers. But how do you add MLS listings to your website?
So glad you asked. This is where IDX enters the picture.
What is IDX?
Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is the system and rules that allow real estate brokers and agents to share each other’s listings. IDX software enables real estate professionals to add MLS listings to their websites.
Why IDX Matters
The purpose of IDX is to level the playing field, so smaller real estate brokers can compete with larger organizations. It also standardizes property listings across the board and fosters an environment of cooperation as brokers share their listings.
Now that we’ve clarified key terms, let’s examine how the MLS works with IDX.
How IDX Works with MLS
Since most homebuyers begin their search online, realtors and real estate agencies can create websites to market their services and connect with potential buyers and sellers. Of real estate firms, 91% feature property listings on their websites with the help of an IDX integration. You can use plugins that integrate directly with an existing site or build a new site with an IDX solution.
Your IDX solution will establish a data connection between your website and the MLS, import listings for display on your website, and run updates. This process will vary depending on which service you select.
As you set up your IDX integration, you’ll also need to choose whether to opt into a free broker reciprocity service. Enabling broker reciprocity allows other brokers to display your listings on their websites, giving your listings more potential exposure. You can also choose whether to display listings from other participating brokers.
IDX Regulations: 5 Rules to Know
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) regulates the usage of IDX. Below are a few of the rules real estate professionals should follow when using IDX:
- You must have a seller’s consent to post their property listing in IDX.
- Listings must be approved for display by the MLS or listing broker before they’re featured on your site.
- Information in the listing, such as property features, cannot be altered so they appear more attractive to other agents and potential buyers.
- If you prohibit your listings from being displayed in IDX, you cannot share other IDX participants’ listings on your site.
Top IDX Software for Brokers
Which IDX software to use for your website? The right IDX system ensures your online listings are user-friendly and interactive. Here are a few questions to consider as you choose an IDX system.
- Does the IDX software integrate with your current website if you have one?
- Do you need a new website? If so, consider a platform that will integrate well with IDX software or can custom-build a real estate website with IDX.
- Is it mobile-friendly? 76% of homebuyers search for homes on a mobile device, so make sure your tool is mobile-responsive.
- Can it host high-resolution photos and other multimedia? Homebuyers name photos as the most valuable website feature (89%), followed by detailed property info (86%) and floor plans (67%).
- What marketing or customer communication features do you need? Some IDX platforms have built-in communication or CRM features, while others integrate with external tools.
To help you identify your best-fit IDX platform, we’ve broken down the top five IDX platforms with pricing and the best features of each.
IDX Broker is a robust tool that offers IDX listing search with an interactive map search tool. The Home Atlas feature lets users zoom in on certain areas, save a customized search, and save properties. IDX Broker can integrate with your existing site, with lite and platinum versions available.
Cost: $55-$90 per month
Best for: WordPress users, adding IDX to an existing site, budget-friendly
What we love: IDX Broker is highly flexible and works with any website, especially WordPress. They also offer add-on services like a basic CRM, lead routing, and office packages priced for real estate teams.
Placester designs mobile-friendly IDX sites for your real estate business. Core features include dynamic map search, lead capture tools, and customer support. Placester offers an affordable DIY option where brokers and agents can build their own website with its website builder and CRM.
With the DIFM Website or Content Pro plans, real estate pros gain access to a website expert to design their site and perform unlimited updates and maintenance. Other premium features include social media tools, testimonial imports, and chatbot installation.
Cost: $99-$399+ per month with discounts for annual payments and a free trial option
Best for: New websites, custom website builds, ongoing website support
What we love: If you want support to get your website live fast with professional design and support, consider Placester. You can have a website preview in as little as 24 hours. A creative assistant will manage your website build process and any updates.
IDXCentral offers an IDX solution that integrates directly with your website or can be custom-built with a new WordPress site. Features include new listing notifications, IDX for Facebook, and interactive maps. IDX listings are SEO-friendly and mobile-responsive, with lead capture forms to send leads straight to your inbox.
Depending on your needs, you can add on agent CRM, a leads app, and market data reports.
Cost: $44.95+ per month
Best for: Existing websites, new websites, budget-friendly
What we love: IDXCentral offers IDX integration assistance to save you time and money with setup support for you or your website developer. Because IDXCentral works with various website platforms and has customizable plans, you’ll only pay for what you need to. They also offer a limited edition website with a custom look that’s cost-effective and exclusive to your market.
FBS IDX Solutions
FBS IDX Solutions provides two IDX integration options plus an API and integrates with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. If you’re working with a developer, they can use the API to build a custom listing search. Key features include lead capture and portal, saved search, floor plan listings, and market stat widgets.
Cost: $8 per month for broker packages; $349-$499 per year for agent and teams packages
Best for: Existing websites, WordPress users, budget-friendly
What we love: Broker sites using FBS’s Flexmls platform will enjoy instant updates from other Flexmls sites, unlike some IDX systems, which can take hours to sync and update. FBS’s high-res property photos and customizable search widgets let you wow your buyers with property visuals.
Showcase IDX integrates directly with your real estate website and is customizable to fit your site design. Key features include responsive mobile polygon search, advanced sorting, saved searches, and recommended listings.
Showcase IDX also supports multiple MLS profiles and hosts a real estate community to strengthen your business. Their CRM and Zapier integrations let you run your business exactly how you want.
Cost: $74.95-$119.95 per month with a free trial option
Best for: Existing websites
What we love: Fast updates with data fetching every 15 minutes from the MLS. The MLS gives real estate professionals the opportunity to share their listings and connect with potential homebuyers. Once you’ve added listings to your site with IDX, prepare to connect with buyers and agents as they search the web for properties.
Sell More Houses With a Real Estate Website with IDX
Whichever platform you choose to set up your website and IDX listings, marketing your real estate business is an important step to reaching buyers and sellers and growing your business. While referrals will always be important in real estate, they aren’t enough anymore. Market yourself with a beautiful website, user-friendly property listings, and up-to-date communication tools.