IDX in Real Estate?

You and I are able to view Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listings online thanks to a service called IDX (Internet Data Exchange). Specifically, Internet Data Exchange (IDX) refers to the regulations, permissions, and tools that facilitate real estate brokers' access to, incorporation into, and public display of MLS listings.

Starting in the mid-1990s, the Internet began playing an increasingly important role in the real estate market. In 2017, 51% of purchasers used the internet to choose their final house, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Among young people, the rate is significantly greater.

IDX and online property listings are largely responsible for this development. We wrote this piece to shed light on IDX from every angle. We'll take you by the hand and show you every facet of it, explaining what it is, why it's there, and all the benefits you can expect to reap from using it.

What Exactly Is Broker Reciprocity?

Broker Reciprocity is an IDX rule that allows several brokers to post MLS listings. A broker that opts into IDX grants other participants the right to exhibit his listings and obtains the right to display other participants' listings. In practice, the terms Broker Reciprocity and IDX are interchangeable.

When investigating IDX, you will almost certainly come across the term Broker Reciprocity. They are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing. Some MLSs refer to it as IDX, while others refer to it as Broker Reciprocity. They all offer the same level of service to agents and brokers.

Why Is IDX Used?

IDX exists to assist real estate agents in marketing their properties, attracting leads, and closing more deals. Agents may reach a bigger audience and better match available houses to prospective purchasers by advertising listings online.

Prior to IDX, MLS listings were essentially inaccessible to the general public. When a homebuyer started looking for a house, she engaged a real estate agent. This realtor searched the MLS database for properties that met the homebuyer's requirements and then showed them.

It's not difficult to see the issue. How would an agent know whether houses were a better fit for the buyer's needs than the buyer herself?

The expansion of the Internet provides an opportunity to address this issue. If agents could sell listings online, they would be able to reach more potential buyers and encourage buyers to participate more actively in the buying process. To make this possible, the NAR created IDX.

What Is the Process of IDX Real Estate?

IDX operates by establishing guidelines for brokers to pool listings, enabling agents access to the use of these listings, and offering technologies to display these listings on an agent's website.

The NAR desired structure before permitting listings to be shown online. After all, the Internet is a decentralized, often uncontrolled environment. IDX ensures that MLSs retain ownership of their listings and that everyone follows the regulations.

What Are the IDX Rules?

IDX rules define the terms of participation for IDX participants. They specify what an agent may do with IDX listings, how they must be displayed, how frequently downloads must be synchronized with the MLS database and other details.

Most IDX rules, for example, say that IDX listings may not be supplied to anyone other than the agent, that they must be presented as is with no adjustments by the agent, and that downloads must be refreshed at least every 12 hours.

What Is the Meaning of an IDX Real Estate License?

The agreement that allows an MLS member or vendor to access the MLS database and import listings for use in IDX is known as an IDX license. This document outlines the legal requirements of the various parties involved in the establishment of an IDX.

The conditions of the IDX license differ depending on the MLS but typically state what the MLS promises to supply, what the member or vendor may not do when viewing the listings, and the terms of accountability if any regulations are broken.

What Exactly Is an IDX Feed?

An IDX feed is a data connection between an agent's website and the MLS that offers listings for display and frequently refreshes these listings as new properties come on the market and others close or expire.

A link to the MLS is required to show MLS listings on your site. This connection is provided via the IDX feed. In some circumstances, your website will instantly connect to the MLS and import listings. In other circumstances, your site will link to a third-party IDX vendor's site and display listings from that seller.

The specifics of the IDX feed are determined by the IDX technology utilized.

What Are the Various Internet Data Exchange Technologies?

IDX Framing, FTP, RETS, and RESO Web API are the four main IDX technologies. Each of these systems employs a different approach to accessing an MLS and importing listings, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

IDX Framing

IDX framing allows your site to display listings from other websites using a design component known as a frame. Framing is one of the simplest and quickest ways to put up IDX on your site, but it provides almost no SEO benefit.


The listings published on your site are stored on your website servers using FTP (or File Transfer Protocol). This has a higher SEO value than framing. However, the method FTP transfers data is time-consuming and inefficient. The whole FTP file must be downloaded for each synchronization. This restricts the number of syncs you can perform per day and implies your site may not be up to date.


RETS, or the Real Estate Transaction Standard, allows for speedier listing transmission and display. RETS updates listings progressively rather than requiring a full file download. This enables greater listing updates while retaining the good SEO built through FTP.


RESO Web API is the most recent IDX technology. This technology makes use of an API, or Application Programming Interface, to retrieve listings from an MLS and display them on an agent's website. This builds on the solid SEO approaches established by FTP and RETS while decreasing the necessity for local hosting.

What Is an IDX Vendor?

An IDX vendor is the company that accesses the MLS on behalf of an agent and performs the technical work required to connect the agent's website to the MLS database.

What Is an IDX Plugin?

An IDX plugin is software that is sold by an IDX vendor and functions at the receiving end of the MLS data connection. The IDX plugin takes raw MLS data and repackages it so that it can be displayed in a human-readable format on the agent's website.

The issue is that IDX feeds deliver data in a coded format that is incomprehensible on its own. Many IDX providers sell plugins that understand this data and tell it where to display on the website, such that the numbers corresponding to price appear in the price field.

What Are the Benefits of IDX for Real Estate Agents?

IDX provides agents with various benefits, including the opportunity to sell homes to a broader online audience, involve home purchasers more fully in the home purchasing process, and connect property listings with other valuable content for individuals who are engaged in the real estate market.

More and more leads are shopping for homes on the Internet. IDX can assist agents in gaining access to those leads. Those who do not use IDX may limit the number of leads they capture or struggle to compete at all.

How Can I Include IDX Real Estate on My Website?

The technology utilized to display IDX real estate on your website is dependent on the technology employed. Your IDX can sometimes be up and running in less than a day. It may take several days to create a more reliable data connection with the MLS.

The standard procedure is outlined below.

Steps to get IDX on my website:

  • Call the MLS and ask for IDX papers.
  • Request a list of approved vendors from the MLS.
  • Contact various companies to inquire about prices and available technology.
  • Select the finest provider and technology for your budget.
  • Finish the IDX paperwork
  • The vendor will set up the data connection.
  • Adapt your website and IDX to your business concept.

Policies Governing Participants' IDX Websites

Here is a complete guide to the NAR's IDX requirements.

  • Participants should notify the MLS of their desire to display IDX data. MLS should also have immediate access to the displayed data to ensure that it adheres to NAR standards and policies.
  • IDX-provided listings should be utilized solely for IDX display.
  • If a seller does not want the property addresses exposed on the Internet, real estate professionals should respect their client's requests and not display them on IDX.
  • The display of IDX listings can be based on factors such as..."...geography or location ("uptown", "downtown", etc.), list price, type of property (e.g., condominiums, cooperatives, single-family detached, multi-family), cooperative compensation offered by listing brokers, type of listing (e.g., exclusive right-to-sell or exclusive agency), or level of service provided by the listing firm. Each participant must individually choose which IDX listings to display.
  • The displays and the MLS downloads should be refreshed not less frequently than every 12 hours to provide consumers with the latest data.
  • According to NAR, "an IDX display or participant engaging in IDX display may not distribute, provide, or make any component of the MLS database available to any person or entity, unless as authorized elsewhere in this policy or elsewhere in an MLS's rules and regulations." 
  • IDX participants must clearly identify the brokerage company while displaying IDX content using distinct colors and typeface. However, NAR recognizes that in some circumstances, disclosures may not be displayed in this manner, so: "... This policy recognizes that certain mandatory disclosures may be impossible to make in displays of limited information (e.g., "thumbnails," text messages, "tweets," etc., of 200 characters or less) or for aural transmission of listing content. Minimal displays are excluded from the policy's disclosure requirements if they are connected directly to a display that includes all required information. Only when all required disclosures are subsequently sent electronically to the registered consumer completing the property search or linked to through the device's application is an audio transmission of listing content exempt from disclosure obligations."
  • Participants in IDX should be able to get feedback and suggestions regarding the accuracy of the presented listing. If they receive such criticism from the listing broker/agent, participants should remove misleading information.".... The participant, on the other hand, is not required to erase or correct any data or material that simply expresses good faith opinion, advice, or professional judgment."
  • Participants are not permitted to transmit IDX listings to third-party parties that are not members of the IDX exchange.
  • Participants are not permitted to change facts in order to make the listing more appealing to the audience.

How Do I Select an IDX Vendor?

To select an IDX provider, consider your preferred website platform, preferred IDX technology, lead-capturing features given by the vendor, the vendor's payment structure, and, finally, the pricing.

To assist, we've compiled a list of critical questions to ask your vendor when shopping for IDX.

  • Do you provide my favorite IDX real estate technology (for example, framing, FTP, RETS, RESO Web API)?
  • What third-party themes work with your service?
  • Where is the IDX data hosted (for example, on agent or vendor servers)?
  • Is your payment made in advance or monthly?
  • What aspects of lead capture are included in my purchase?
  • Do you allow the co-mingling of multiple MLS?

You can contact us to get more choices