What is IDX? You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Crye-Leike, Realtors

My guess is you are reading this for a couple of possible reasons?

  • You just read my post Confused about IDX? Possible reasons why... OR
  • You already know what IDX is and you want to see how I explain it. OR
  • You're addicted to the Rain and constantly reading blogs that blip across your screen. OR
  • You're a web developer and a real estate agent just asked you to build a site with IDX on it and you googled ‘What is IDX'. OR
  • You're an agent and you've been hearing the term, but you weren't sure what it is. OR...

Ok - maybe I could get to the point now. Many times real estate agents think that IDX is some techie computer word... a word they can just leave up to the IT people. If that is the case, this post is for you. I could give you the cookie cutter answers that a lot of web providers seem to be using. But I took the time to write this post so you can really get an understanding.

I teach a class in Crye-Leike College and I get asked, "What is IDX?" all the time. Here's how I answer...

What is IDX?IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange. This is also called Broker Reciprocity. However IDX is a lot easier to say that Broker Reciprocity, so it seems to be the term used most frequently.

IDX is an initiative from the National Association of Realtors. IDX is term used in the real estate industry. It is not an IT term. Although IDX involves technical aspects (web developers, database developers etc) people with technical expertise are simply implementing a real estate policy started at NAR.

IDX is implemented by each real estate board in their own timeframe. (Several years ago almost none of the boards in our areas had implemented IDX. Now the majority have IDX rules in place, but there are still boards out there who this is new for.) I may be questioned on this one, because according to NAR, "IDX is a mandatory policy for all MLS's by Jan. 1, 2002."  Well, I frankly laugh at that. Just a few months ago I called a board to find out how to access the data feed for IDX and she told me, "Oh, IDX, we decided not to fool with that whole thing." So again - IDX is implemented by each real estate board in their own timeframe. This can be sped along by concerned members of the board.

IDX is a choice. It allows brokers (meaning the company level) to opt in or opt out of IDX. Some boards also allow for opt-in/opt-out to happen on a per listing basis. When a company opts in to IDX, they can on their web site display all of the listings of everyone else who opts in to IDX. If a company opts out of IDX, they can only display their own listings on their web site (and no one can display that company's listings on their site.)

Huh? That's a tongue twister I know. So what does it come down to? An example.... Crye-Leike opts into IDX. Let's say John Doe Realty also opts into IDX and No Go Realty opts out. That means that on... 

  • No Go Realty's web site they only display properties for sale listed by No Go Realty. Neither Crye-Leike's web site nor John Doe Realty's web site nor any other IDX participant can display any listings from No Go Realty.
     
  • Crye-Leike's web site displays all of their listings for sale and all of the listings of John Doe Realty and all of the other participants listings. 
     
  • And vice versa on John Doe Realty's site - all IDX participants listings are displayed.

IDX is defined by each board with a set of rules. Each board either creates or adopts rules for IDX display. The rules address a variety of issues governing:

  • How often data must be updated.
  • How the data should be displayed.
  • What fields of information can be displayed.
  • Whether or not the listing company and/or agent has to be displayed.
  • What disclaimers must display and showing the MLS as the source of information.
  • How companies opt-in or opt-out of the program.

IDX data is provided by an MLS board/association in a variety of formats. Every board makes their own technology investments and decisions. There are only so many MLS technology solutions providers out there. (Some examples of such providers are: Paragon/FNIS, Marketlinx/MLXchange/Tempo, Navica, FBS/FlexMLS, Solid Earth, Focal Point/RealFocus)

RETS, FTP Site DownloadUsually the board buys software to power the MLS system and to provide these data feeds. Usually the solution is an FTP site where members (or representatives of the members) download a text file and pictures once a night or something similar. Some boards (usually those with a broader membership base and more $$$ to invest) will implement a RETS server. Explanation of RETS - is another topic. But essentially a RETS server allows a programmer to query in real time for property data updates (versus having to wait for the nightly feed given out in an FTP site). It is just another way to get the data. There are other solutions as well, these are just the most frequent means of sharing the data.

That data then has to be programmed to display on a real estate agent and/or real estate companies web site. Some companies have in-house staff to download their data and program their web sites and some companies buy IDX solution web sites from such providers and/or hire a developer to create one for them.

IDX is a concept of sharing. You show me yours and I'll show you mine. IDX is an agreement (governed by boards) that gives brokers/real estate companies permission and rules to display their listings on each other's public web sites.

This got me thinking about quite a few more MLS and IDX related topics that I will write about in the future, but for now...school's out.

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Rainer
509,270
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
Wow... this has to be the most comprehensive explanation of what IDX is I've ever read!  Great post, Angie.  I'm actually surprised more haven't read & commented on it.
Jul 10, 2007 01:55 PM #1
Rainer
509,270
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist
OK, I don't get it... this post says there's 2 comments on it but my first comment is the only one showing up!  I bet when I hit the "submit comment", it'll say "3 comments"!  Must be a glitch in the system.  Too bad I can't give you a second '5' rating!
Jul 10, 2007 01:57 PM #2
Rainer
22,519
Tracy Thrower Conyers
Silicon Beach Properties • KW - Venice, CA
buy. sell. lease. residential in silicon beach.

Hi Angie!  Most MLS's are "opt out" MLS's.  That way the database starts full and a few who feely strongly on the subject can take themselves out of the program.  We watched one or two "opt in" MLS's in the early days and they never got off the ground.  Inertia takes over.  Brokers don't opt in because it takes education and effort.  By the same token, they don't opt out of the opt out programs because it takes effort.  These days most programs are opt out to preserve the program.

Also, RETS is not always a better solution.  All those real time queries, if they happen at the same time (like peak consumer hours in the evening), can crash the system.  Not good.

By the way, IDX is not a real estate industry term.  It translates loosely to "bringing databases to websites" and the term is used alot in the healthcare industry (check out idx.com, for instance).

Jul 10, 2007 03:38 PM #3
Rainer
22,519
Tracy Thrower Conyers
Silicon Beach Properties • KW - Venice, CA
buy. sell. lease. residential in silicon beach.
P.S.  I found your post through my Google Alerts for "real estate" and IDX.  For anybody who thinks we're just goofing around here, I'm here to tell you that our AR voice is being heard strong and loud outside the community, too.  I'm also highly recommending that everybody set up these alerts to follow "news" relating to your business.
Jul 10, 2007 03:57 PM #4
Anonymous
Excellent explanation of IDX - MLS Internet Data Exchange

Angie,

Great post on the whole IDX issue! Keep up the great blogging work!

take care,

Joe Trainor, RealtySoft.com

1.866.857.1657 x 113

Jul 11, 2007 12:03 AM #5
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger

Tracy, I'm talking to you a lot today! I almost just picked up the phone :)

As for the opt-in/opt-out stuff... yes I think every board we are in is opt-out. It would certainly kill it quickly if everyone had to remember to fill out and send in forms to get it going :)

I like how you found this through your google alerts. I really love google. I use it for so much.

As for RETS being the better or not better solution - I would have to argue that I still think its better to have RETS and to get data faster and in smaller batches. Talking about real-time queries, the loads on systems and crashing it... seems like a hardware issue to me. If an mls is not prepared to support the traffic load by investing in more servers etc. and it was constantly going down because of traffic volume - then in that case I would say it would not be good.

On your comment about my phrase 'real estate industry' term.. I commented back on this post.

Jul 11, 2007 07:42 AM #6
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger
Leanne, thanks for the 'two comments'. :)
Jul 11, 2007 07:43 AM #7
Rainmaker
468,172
Midori Miller
Talk 2 Midori, LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Online Marketing For Real Estate Professionals

'So what does it come down to? An example.... Crye-Leike opts into IDX. Let's say John Doe Realty also opts into IDX and No Go Realty opts out. That means that on... No Go Realty's web site they only display properties for sale listed by No Go Realty. Neither Crye-Leike's web site nor John Doe Realty's web site nor any other IDX participant can display any listings from No Go Realty." 

I could see this in a personal brochure on your website.   I love the way you pointed it out to the consumer, they do not always understand our lingo.  Great post.

Jul 11, 2007 11:49 AM #8
Rainer
22,519
Tracy Thrower Conyers
Silicon Beach Properties • KW - Venice, CA
buy. sell. lease. residential in silicon beach.
Always a pleasure, Angie, to have a lively debate on a topic near and dear to my heart.  Thanks for "talking" to me, today.
Jul 11, 2007 02:39 PM #9
Rainer
103,150
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger

Hi Chuck - I haven't heard anything about open houses and paragon. Seems to me that even if paragon offered the option to the boards, that each board would still choose individually whether or not to implement it.

Mar 10, 2009 02:17 AM #10
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Rainer
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Angie Vandenbergh

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