The Ultimate Guide to IDX Real Estate

Life, as we know it, is changing. Technology is making all aspects of life look different these days. New platforms and methodologies are changing long-standing industries every day.

The real estate industry is no different. Many agents think they have an idea of what IDX is, but things have changed so much, the average real estate agent is missing out on valuable ways to grow their business because of a few key misunderstandings of IDX in real estate.

As one of the oldest professions, real estate has remained virtually unchanged for decades. Even with the advent of the internet in the 1990s, many real estate transactions still got done the old-fashioned way.

Cloud and SaaS (software as a service) technology and a major push for all businesses to go digital first brought on a concept known as IDX real estate. Many companies initially built an IDX and have not touched that technology over the past 15+ years, while several new entrants have arisen that completely changed the opportunities for individual agents.

If you're in the real estate industry and haven't heard the term, it's ok. Even if you haven't heard of it, chances are you're dealing with it on a daily basis.

Today, we're going to dive into everything you need to know about IDX real estate. Consider this article your go-to guide.

We'll talk about what IDX real estate is at a high-level, why it's important in 2022, and how it's going to affect the industry in years to come. There's going to be a lot of information to cover, so you may want to take notes.

Get your pencil and pad ready. Your crash course in IDX real estate is now in session.

The Ultimate Guide to IDX Real Estate

What Is IDX Real Estate?

IDX real estate stands for Internet Data Exchange real estate. This concept is still relatively new to the real estate world. It has to do with the way digital real estate data is handled on the internet and why consumers use some agent websites and not others.

The concept is also called Broker Reciprocity. In general, the policy handles brokers' ability to post each other's listings on their personal websites. In order to make this all possible, an IDX real estate solution needed to be created. 

This IDX technology is what makes it possible for realtors to list inventory on their websites. Agents can leverage an IDX plugin to post not only their listings, but other listings within their local MLS on their own personal website. 

Some web developers and companies have tried to create their own IDX and property search tools but it’s both very costly and difficult. When I spoke at a RESO fall conference a few years ago, the general estimate from 20+ technology experts I spoke with was that Zillow (and others) spent $25,000,000 simply building the technology and tools to ingest data from the 500+ MLSs and other data sources, and that is before they actually built the home search and CTA tools on top of the data. This investment is why there have been so many poor IDXs over time and why there are only a few good ones today. Read my article on What is IDX Integration if you want much more detail on that.

The History of IDX Real Estate

Although the technology is relatively new, the concept isn't. The concept that IDX real estate is rooted in dates back to the 1800s. That's how long realtors have been participating in broker reciprocity in some form.

But IDX as we know it didn't come about until the early 2000s. It was at this time that brokers and agents could start to show property listings on their own websites. Real estate professionals didn't have to rely on sites like realtor.com any longer. Now, most real estate websites are built with fully-integrated IDX platforms that allow agents and Realtors to list all of the properties for sale in the area - or only a segment if they wish to focus their site more.

Happy Loving Family Using Laptop Sitting On Couch After Moving New Home. Real Estate, House Ownership And Relocation Concept. People Browsing Internet Sitting Among Carton Boxes, Pointing At Screen

Why Is IDX Important?

If you're in the real estate industry and are an active real estate agent, chances are likely that the visitors to your site are looking for real estate listings. There needs to be properties for them to browse in order for them to contact you looking to buy something. Without IDX, you would have to manually add only your own listings to the website and would be responsible for keeping the information up to date if you changed anything in the MLS.. 

For some agents and brokers who have been in the game for decades, and who have extremely large marketing budgets, this isn't a problem. Once they have their "marketing machine" rolling, they have potential clients calling them to list their property.

It's nice when your career is at that level, but what if you're a new real estate broker or a buyer's agent? You're going to need to leverage IDX so your potential buyers have something to browse. The organic leads you can generate from a search engine like Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing will also be the highest quality leads and the lowest long-term cost too.

If you don't have any houses available for them to look at, they'll move on to the next website that does. And, they'll do it a lot quicker than you think. Then, even if you have their information, I can guarantee you that another agent in your area will be calling your (potential) clients soon.

IDX for Buyer Marketing

IDX also helps you stay on the minds of your customers. Not only does IDX give you a full inventory of properties to show website visitors, but it also gives you a way to keep in touch with your potential clients.

Let's say you have a phone conversation with a prospective buyer. They tell you they're looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a 2-car garage. They also want their house to be in the neighborhood with the best school district in the area.

Without IDX, you’d have to use your MLSs tools to send them search updates which would take your clients back to the MLS platform and not your personal website (that showcases you). But, fortunately for you, that's not the case. IDX will allow you to set up e-mail notifications for all of your potential buyers.

Every time an active listing comes onto your local MLS that matches your buyer's criteria, it will get sent to them automatically via email. You can brand the email with your photo, logo, and contact information. When your client clicks a link, it will bring them back to your website - the hub of all your digital marketing.

Now, IDX is ensuring that you're the first person people in your area call when they're looking for an agent.

Sell Your Listings Faster

IDX can even help you to sell your listings faster. Most IDX platforms come equipped with a Featured Listing option. Agents and brokers can use this to give extra exposure to their clients' listings - and increase the chance that a potential buyer will find one of the listings from you or your office.

You can also pitch this to potential sellers as an added benefit of working with you. Tell them about the featured listing option and the extra exposure it will give them. As a result, you could land more potential real estate listings in your area as your site grows in search rankings.

What a great way to stand out. And it works even in the most competitive of markets!

If you don't have any listings to sell currently, that's fine too. You can always use the featured listing feature of an IDX platform to highlight listings from your office in the area. This might actually benefit you more, as it will bring in buyers and sellers at the same time.

Other IDX Features

In addition to providing you with current housing inventory, there are some other features you're going to want to look for. These features are the mark of a great, modern IDX service. Any platform you choose to work with should have them.

  • Mobile Search

One of the most important is mobile search. Most search traffic today comes from mobile devices. This is true for businesses in general. We're not just talking about the real estate industry.

That means you most certainly need to have your listings searchable from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. We all lead busy lives now. Your potential buyers need to be able to house shop on the go.

  • Interactive Mapping

Another must-have tool is interactive mapping. When it comes to your potential clients' search, visual tools are key. Interactive mapping will show where the real estate listings on your IDX website are located on a map of the area.

Now, buyers who are browsing your site can see exactly where their favorite property is located. They can see if it's near shopping and restaurants. And, they'll also be able to see if it's near the school of their choice.

Rather than doing the research themselves, your buyers will have it all laid out for them on a nice, tidy map.

Watch Out for Your Internet Marketing

A lot of vendors who sell IDX platform services will tell you that using IDX technology is good for your SEO marketing. In fact, some IDX technology may end up hurting your website's ranking in internet search results.

A modern IDX, like Showcase IDX, will retain your clients and give them a home search that exceeds their expectations, but you will still need to do some work (or have someone do it) to outrank Zillow and other agents.

The good news is that I’ve thousands of real estate professionals across 100+ brokerages and teams invest the work and create an organic lead engine that attracts buyers and sellers, to grow their businesses.

These three resources will give you the exact guide and examples to follow:

These guides will show you both how to avoid the duplicate content issue some agent websites run into and how to easily see results from investing in your website as the hub of your business.

Off-site SEO

The above will get you started and lay an incredible foundation. To further scale your organic traffic and lead generation, you must look at off-site SEO (e.g. link building, social signals, etc.). 

You can easily learn about this in other posts and courses on our site. Just know that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Do not trust any “consultant” or agency that claims they can build links for you and get results very quickly. Look for a partner and plan on a budget that will lead to results, and not trigger Google, over the next 6 - 12 months.

Close-up of real estate agent in black suit sitting on sofa and holding the model of the house in her hands while working online

Rely on IDX Real Estate

Modern IDX real estate is changing the way that real estate gets done and how agents with growing businesses are growing their businesses. Thanks to this modern technology, brokers can pool resources to help each other sell properties.

You get inventory to list on your website and other agents in the area get their listings sold. It's a win-win. It also helps add long-lasting connections to your sphere of influence when you build a website powered by this technology.For more information on an IDX plugin for your business, contact Showcase IDX today. Our team of experts is more than happy to help.

Author Details
Entrepreneurial marketing leader that's built and run organizations from start-up to over $500M annual revenue. He brings a unique combination of storytelling and innovation to the team, having led marketing for many brands. Kurt's a regular conference speaker and workshop leader around modern marketing tactics that actually drive sales. In addition, he has been asked to coach and advise thousands of leaders, from startup founders to the President of the United States.

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