IDX FAQ's - General Questions
What is IDX?
IDX is a type of data feed provided by your MLS membership. In some cases your MLS may require that you pay for access to this data feed, in other cases they don't. This data feed typically (but not always) mirrors the data available on your MLS's website. If your MLS provides access to this data feed, you may use that access to promote ALL listings on your website, not just your featured listings.
What is IDX / Broker Reciprocity?
IDX is an acronym for Internet Data Exchange. IDX is the policy instituted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to govern how MLS member participants can display active MLS listing information on their websites. In simple terms, IDX is the means of extracting the data from a Multiple Listing Service and delivering it to a website for public consumption. IDX is sometimes called Broker Reciprocity or IDD.
Who can participate in IDX / Broker Reciprocity?
This depends on the rules established by your local board and/or Multiple Listing Service. Since your board/MLS is independently governed, these rules might be different than rules of another boards and MLS's. Normally all Broker members (Participants) may participate in IDX/Broker Reciprocity. Agents (Subscribers) may, or may not, participate in Broker Reciprocity program depending on the rules. Sometimes individual agents can display IDX data directly on their personal websites with permission of their Broker, sometimes they cannot. Our staff can help you determine if this is the case, we just need to know the name of your local board/MLS.
Who is a "Participant"?
A "Participant" is the Broker member, or Principal Broker member of a Multiple Listing Service.
Who is a "Subscriber"?
A "Subscriber" is the non-Principal Broker member of a Multiple Listing Service (I.E. an Agent).
Do I have options for a website?
In our experience, a real estate website comes down to two basic choices: template or custom. Template: Quick to setup (some providers offer self-setup) and can be delivered with a minimal initial cost. However, it is likely your template will not be too different than the thousands or tens of thousands of other templates out there. And remember, you get what you pay for. Templates offer the least customization or site design/layout. Custom: For those willing to make the investment in a full featured custom website, you can and probably will get access to many options. A custom designed, hand built website will give you and the home buyers a richer, fuller experience. Make sure to work with a reputable business that has experience in designing a website that fits your needs and budget. We have worked with many wonderful designers who are more than qualified and we can certainly put you in contact with them.
I'm an Agent. How can I get IDX / Broker Reciprocity?
You are probably already participating since your listings are being displayed on other websites. The next step is to add IDX to your website to start capturing leads much like your competitors have been doing. We can work with you or your website developer to get IDX delivered to your website. If you really want to get a jump on the competition, consider signing up for our "Small Office IDX" service. This multi-user account can help boost the number of leads managed by your Agents and help you generate a greater sales volume as a result.
Should I build my own website?
We would counsel you to seek the help of a professional web developer. While construction of a site on your own is likely to be the least expensive option, we recommend sticking to what you do best: selling real estate. Leave the web development to the people who design and build websites for a living.
How often do you update the data?
While we are generally only required by the various MLS's to refresh the data once a week, we try as hard as we can to get a new set of data every 24 hours. Because of the automated email service we provide, it is important to maintain the quickest turn around time possible. In some rare cases photos are delayed for more than 24 hours only because they are not immediately available to us.
What are FTP and RETS and what are the differences between the two?
FTP and RETS are the two types of data feeds for third-party vendors, such as IDX Broker, to use to aggregate MLS data and display it on approved real estate websites. FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a general file transfer solution (used in fields other than real estate) that synchronizes the data from an MLS with an approved host website. RETS, or Real Estate Transaction Standard, is specific to the real estate industry and is the most direct way to attain MLS data to display on real estate professionals' websites. RETS uses a common information language to cater to different MLS systems.
The primary difference between FTP and RETS, from a Realtor's perspective, is that the RETS data is designed to match each MLS's unique practices so it, typically, more closely resembles the field names and option values you see when logged in to the MLS itself. RETS is also easier for third-party vendors to troubleshoot than a FTP feed, so any issues can usually be diagnosed and corrected quickly.
Why would I want to let someone else display my listings on their website?
Think of it as free advertising. The more exposure for your listings the better! The more places your listings show up, the faster they are likely to sell. The bottom line is that no one gets paid until the property closes. The Internet has taken a once closed MLS system and opened it up for consumers to make faster and better informed buying/selling decisions. IDX opened the door for free advertising on tens of thousands of websites.
Why would I want to display someone else's listings on my website?
When you display these listings on your site, you give consumers one more reason to keep coming back to your site. Your site, and thus you, become a tremendous resource for home buyers in your area. Additionally, home buyers today are looking for specific information and adding IDX to your website can help answer some of the questions about what homes are available in the MLS.
How can I opt-in to my IDX / Broker Reciprocity program?
Most boards/MLS have already included all member Brokers and Agents by default. It is likely you were automatically opted-in the Broker Reciprocity program some time ago. In most cases, a Broker must explicitly ask to opt-out and sign the official paperwork to do so. Brokers who have opted-out may opt back in by submitting the proper paperwork from their board. Only in a few rare cases has the board/MLS chosen to have opt-out as the default. In these rare cases, we can help provide you, or your Broker, the paperwork to opt-in to the program.
Broker Reciprocity isn't for me. How can i opt-out?
Brokers (and supporting Agents) who decide not to participate in Broker Reciprocity may submit the opt-out form provided by their local board/MLS. However, opting-out is not a great idea because your listings will not be displayed on the Internet at all. Opting out will greatly decrease exposure for your listings, and in our opinion, should be seriously reconsidered. Furthermore, opting-out of the Broker Reciprocity will decrease the ability getting the benefit of this powerful marketing tool, which will decrease sales.
Why should I care about Broker Reciprocity?
Broker Reciprocity allows for the greatest amount of exposure for property listings. The power of the Internet, combined with the power of IDX has seriously leveled the playing field and helped to maximize the visibility of listings. If you don't display IDX on your website, potential buyers are probably not going to frequent your site in favor of a competitor, who does provide these search tools. Broker Reciprocity has given the "little guy" some of the same marketing potential as the "bigger guys".
Who governs Broker Reciprocity?
Broker Reciprocity is governed at the national level by NAR. Each local board/MLS also has a set of policies of their own.
When was the Broker Reciprocity policy approved?
The NAR Board of Directors originally approved the policy on May 22, 2000. Since that time the NAR has made several revisions. IDX has been around for a few years, but recently it has become critical to the online marketing successes of real estate professionals.
What is the general level of participation in an MLS IDX Program?
Participation in any IDX program varies greatly. We have seen some cases where participation is below 50%, or as high at 100%. Participation is on the rise as more Brokers across the country choose to be involved in the program. Based on experience, we believe the average participation rates nationwide are somewhere in the 70-75% range.
Does the IDX data contain any confidential information?
No. The IDX data fields available for display to the public are approved by the board/MLS and do not contain confidential information.
Is it required to indentify the listing firm information on search results?
Most of the time some information that identifies the listing firm is required. This is usually some combination of the listing agent name and/or phone, or the listing office and/or phone. Every board/MLS requires a different combination. The "rule of thumb" is that we are required to display the listing Broker or Agent name. Because of this we attempt to place this information at the very bottom of the page in an inconspicuous location.
What does VOW stand for and how is it different from IDX?