First, we should think about what a "great" IDX solution is supposed to accomplish. Then we can see what features are required to meet our goals. Please feel free to add any of your own requirements for IDX in your comments, but here's what I expect from IDX on my site and why.
I liked the house in the clouds photo because that's where our customers and clients are looking. More than 90% use the Internet in their search for a home. Sure, they're driving around and looking too. However, when we're working so hard to build a great website, doing SEO and maybe even paying for clicks, our website is a major drain unless it's generating leads.
Whenever we think about branding and other aspects of a marketing plan, I consider a real estate website pretty much of a failure unless qualified leads are flowing in and generating commissions. It's simple; money and time into the website from me creating leads, transactions and commissions for me.
Where IDX Fits In
While we know from NAR surveys of buyers and sellers that around 90% of buyers search on the Web, we also know from many sources that around 95% of those people want to search listing databases that have as many of the local listings as possible. That's the first place they go on our site and, if we do it right, it's the one place they visit over and over. So, the first requirement for IDX is to have the listings, which we know is part of all of the IDX solutions. However, just because all of the MLS listings are there doesn't mean that they're presented in a way that will keep the home searchers returning to your site. And, until you get their contact information and can work with them, you must provide a search solution that meets their needs so they'll stick around.
My real estate business is in Taos, NM, a very small town in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It is a ski area town, and tourism is the main driver of the economy. Wages in tourism aren't high, and there isn't any relocation business. The vast majority of the real estate deals that generate nice commissions are for vacation and retirement homes. So, the visitors to my site have a few things in common most of the time:
- They have no real urgency to buy anything.
- They realize that they can continue to visit and ski with rentals, so buying is a choice.
- Their requirements can be demanding, and they are choosy about what they want.
- It frequently is two to three YEARS of thinking about it and watching the market before they make a decision.
- Search results pages can be customized to display by price, keyword or any other criteria.
- Listing comparison pages.
- Schools & points of interest
- Street view, hybrid view and train view of each property
- Results can be refined on the map page
- School integration data from Education.com
- Points of interest data
- Community demographics
- Comparables & recently sold listings
- Property value estimates from Zillow, CyberHomes and Eappraisal
- Sales trends
- Virtual tour integration
- Display open house data
- Client login and registration area
- Customizable mortgage settings
- Save favorite properties
- Leave notes for each property
- Save favorite searches
- Upload files & documents
- Receive leads via email
- Enable or disable forced registration
- Lead capture contact forms
- Schedule a showing feature
- Email alerts signup for visitors
- Listing sharing feature
- Complete RealtySoft CRM management solution
- Manage both contacts and leads
- Emails, documents, tasks, and notes for each contact
- Access to client registration area