What Is IDX?
If you are looking for a tool to help you divert potential clients to your real estate site and keep them on your page, try implementing an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feature on your website. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) defines IDX as a set of policies, software, and standards of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that allows information to be shared online by real estate agents participating in their local MLS. In simple terms, IDX refers to a policy that enables Brokers to exchange consent to display each other's property listing on the internet.
IDX provides consumers with access to all MLS data on your own website, meaning that instead of sending potential clients to third-party listing services, IDX keeps them on your site, allowing you to compete with major sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin. Once you have integrated IDX or an IDX plugin into your real estate website, you wield a lot of power to show off your listings while tapping into the potential of the MLS database to generate leads and improve your sales.
How Does IDX Work?
IDX came into real estate in the 2000s during the early days of the internet revolution. At this time, people in the real estate industry were looking at ways for MLS members to take advantage of the internet craze by listing properties online. Real estate agents realized they could promote each other's listings on the websites to help attract and close deals.
Essentially, you can use IDX software to add MLS listings to your website to generate traffic and leads. IDX works by establishing a data connection between the MLS and your website. It then imports listings and displays them for your website visitors. These listings are updated several times a day, enabling your audience to access the most recent offerings and get in touch with you regarding the availability of the properties.
The main difference between IDX and web portals such as Zillow and Trulia is that the latter get information from other sources like brokerage syndication, meaning their listing information is not as comprehensive or as up to date as IDX listings. Additionally, portal sites are designed to provide leads to agents who sponsor individual listings, but with IDX, a real estate agent accesses leads from all the listings on their website.
How REALTORS®, Agents, and Brokers Can Use IDX (and How They Can’t)
Knowing how to integrate IDX into your website is the key to achieving higher site visibility so that other major search engines or search tools can find and index your dedicated pages to each MLS listing. IDX undoubtedly offers many benefits to REALTORS®, agents, and Brokers alike.
IDX can be leveraged as follows:
Sharing hot listings: In a hot real estate market, agents and Brokers can use IDX to share active listings to potential buyers via the Broker or agent website. With revelations that 44% of prospects start their search for property listings online, real estate agents who fail to incorporate listings into their website via IDX are significantly disadvantaged compared to agents who utilize IDX.
Capturing leads: Not only can leads perform an IDX search, it comes with compelling lead capture features that help agents gain valuable insights about the visitor's interest. It also features functionality that lets customers receive email alerts on brand new listings that meet their search criteria. An ideal IDX can enable you to generate leads that offer a higher conversion rate based on the data it collects.
Displaying MLS listings across devices: IDX responsive websites offer the functionality to resize, hide, enlarge, shrink, or move content to any screen size or any device. This feature guarantees your real estate listing will display correctly regardless of whether the visitor uses a laptop, PC, smartphone, or tablet, thus helping you capture more attention.
Social media integration: The power and influence of social media in the real estate sector are immense. Studies reveal that 99% of millennials and 90% of baby boomers start their home search journey online. Besides, 77% of real estate agents are actively using social media for real estate marketing - and an IDX can help in those efforts.
You can leverage IDX to integrate your website content onto social media platforms to make it more accessible to social media users. IDX also comes with features such as social share buttons that allow visitors to share your listing data on different social media accounts.
Offering interactive maps: Real estate is all about location. IDX data comes with an interactive map feature to help your visitors concentrate their search on their favorite areas. This feature allows you to meet your customer’s needs while providing a better customer experience.
Data security: Recent studies reveal major real estate portals such as Trulia and Zillow share users' critical information such as contact details, budget information with partner agents and brokers. In 2018, Zillow earned over $1.5 billion from ad services and premium membership, where they share consumer information. When you integrate IDX into your real estate website, you protect client information, thus earning their trust and loyalty while giving them peace of mind to interact with your listing freely without worrying about a data breach.
What Is Prohibited With IDX?
Before you employ IDX, it is crucial to understand the rules and regulations that guide its use. These policies tend to vary from one MLS to another, and it is advisable to consult your MLS to understand their specific rules and regulations. Notably, some of the general prohibited uses of IDX include:
- Failure to update IDX listings on your website
- Posting a seller's listing even though the seller had expressed their wish not to have the property listed in IDX
- Providing access to third parties not participating in the IDX exchange
- Changing the information on the IDX listing to make the listing more appealing to your visitors
- Showing an IDX listing on sites not approved for display by the listing Broker or MLS
How to Choose an IDX Provider?
When choosing an IDX provider, quality and experience take precedence. Some of the factors to keep in mind during this process include:
Pricing: A critical element to consider when choosing an IDX provider is the IDX vendor charges. On average, a real estate IDX service costs between $39 and $69 monthly per user. In addition, there is a one-off setup charge of $99 per user or more to validate credentials. However, some providers cover the IDX connection fee for their agents. Go for a provider who can offer tailor-made solutions that suit your budget and needs.
Website integration: A lot of work goes into a successful IDX integration. As such, you need programmers who specialize in real estate websites rather than those who write codes for all kinds of websites. You should also choose a reliable program that can pull information from IDX without crashing to promote seamless integration. The right provider should guarantee an IDX with an uptime of up to 99.9% on your website.
Lead capture forms: A real estate sales lead form is used to collect the information of prospects looking to buy or sell a house through your real estate site. A great lead capture form should enable you to collect important contact details like their phone number, name, home address, and email address. With such information, you can follow up leads on time, presenting action plans that may be an ideal fit for them. The ideal IDX provider should provide a lead capture form that is highly visible, clearly labeled, and placed underneath a headline and description of your lead magnet. It should also contain at least three fields: first name, last name, and email.
Social media integration: In the current digital world, the power of social media marketing cannot be underrated. The ideal IDX software should enable you to integrate social media on your IDX website and maintain a connection with your real estate leads. This functionality ensures you keep a robust connection with your leads on your websites even when they are browsing their social media accounts. Additionally, the ideal IDX should include social share buttons that allow visitors to share your content to their different social media accounts.
SEO functions: The right IDX website should be built with the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices in mind. The page should be structured and optimized to give you greater control over search engine visibility. It should also boast dedicated landing pages to help you target SEO for your area or specialty. Implementing robust SEO practices makes your website more visible, which means more traffic and more opportunities to convert leads into customers.
Additional marketing tools & CRM: The ideal IDX provider should also provide additional marketing tools, including a customer relationship management system (CRM). Integrating CRM tools into your IDX website offers added value to your real estate business’ marketing outreach efforts. Some of the benefits that come with CRM integration include:
- Gaining a comprehensive, individual view of customers to create a complete profile
- The ability to track customer satisfaction while supporting your efforts to nurture client relationships
- Removes all the manual entry processes, thus reducing your administration overhead
If you are a real estate agent struggling to find new leads in today's highly volatile real estate world, you should start using an IDX Website. Studies reveal 97% of prospective homebuyers in the U.S. go online in search of their ideal home. Additionally, one in two buyers buys a home online. IDX helps make your listing highly visible to online users while providing them with the tools they need to benefit from your listings.
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