Multiple Listings Service (MLS)
The real estate business can seem pretty cut-throat. This is often the case as there is money to be made and the competition is high. However, that does not mean that there is no cooperation between realtors and brokers. Since the late 1800s there has been a system in place whereby realtors will compensate each other when they help to sell a property. Over the years this has evolved into the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. This is a central database that contains listings from brokers all over the world. Rather than being a single database, MLS is a collection of regional databases combined amalgamated together for ease of access. The databases that contribute towards the MLS can be owned by groups of brokers or by individual agents, they can be small citywide databases or they can cover entire countries. MLS listings are not available to members of the general public; instead it is only accessible to those agents who become members by paying a subscription fee.
Internet Data Exchange (IDX)
You might be wondering what good being a MLS member will do for you. For starters it allows you to upload new property listings and download any existing information from the MLS database. The real benefit comes in when the MLS is used in conjunction with IDX. The Internet Data Exchange (IDX) contains, the rules, policies, standards, and software required for using MLS listings. As access to the database is restricted to members only, when potential customers decide to look for a new property they won’t be able to see what is listed on the MLS. This made the entire system less than optimal as a means for generating sales. IDX software allows agents to display a part of the MLS on their real estate websites that is directly accessible to potential clients. There are of course some limitations of what can be done with IDX. Properties can only be listed with the consent of the property owner. You are forbidden from modifying listings to make them more appealing. You are prohibited from sharing the listings to outside parties that are not part of IDX. You cannot display a listing on IDX that is not MLS approved. Apart from these few rules to make sure everybody plays fairly there are no other restrictions and the benefits of an IDX system are huge.
Advantages of IDX Website
The biggest and most obvious benefit of using a real estate IDX plugin is that it increases the number of property listings that will appear on your website. By increasing the amount of high quality and high value content available on your site, it increases the usability of your page. This will give you a website which is trusted by customers thus increasing your ability to make sales. IDX websites allow you to create a bespoke feed that only takes relevant properties from MLS to put onto your site. If your agency focuses on a certain geographic location then you can use the plugin to filter search results to only display properties from that area. All of the listings that you choose to display are then indexed to your site. This means that the listings will be ‘seen’ by search engines as appearing on your webpage, increasing the number of times you appear in search results. This is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and can greatly increase your real estate lead generation.