What Does a Great IDX Solution Look Like?

Education & Training with RealtySoft.com Chief Evangelist 15067

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.

Home Search


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.
That was years and not months.  In the busiest times, before the housing crash, at times that average time from first website contact to buying was around 8 months.  However, I could only measure from the time they let me know who they were so they could have been, and frequently told me they were, visiting my site for months or a year or more before that.
And, even though your market probably has a much faster cycle, you still have the challenge of providing a search resource that will keep your visitors returning and provide options that encourage them to give you their contact information.  That's what a "great" IDX solution does.
How Does It Do It?

The features that make an IDX solution effective for lead and commission generation can vary a bit by area, and you may not need or have all of these.  However, RealtySoft's ProIDX solution has a long feature list.  I'll take some of them and discuss them here to illustrate how they contribute to lead generation and to your bank account.
Customization - extensive options are available to customize the IDX display, including how it's presented on the page and optional information to be displayed on the IDX page.
  • Search results pages can be customized to display by price, keyword or any other criteria.
  • Listing comparison pages.
Mapping features - not just for locating them for a visit, most visitors will want to see the listings on a map to relate them to amenities and area features.
  • Schools & points of interest
  • Street view, hybrid view and train view of each property
  • Results can be refined on the map page
Property Details
  • 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 area features
  • Client login and registration area
  • Customizable mortgage settings
  • Save favorite properties
  • Leave notes for each property
  • Save favorite searches
  • Upload files & documents
Lead capture featurs
  • 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 
Lead management features
  • Complete RealtySoft CRM management solution
  • Manage both contacts and leads
  • Emails, documents, tasks, and notes for each contact
  • Access to client registration area
SEO - in the Pro level IDX, the actual text of the listings isn't framed, but stored on the website where it's displayed.  This creates a huge amount of relevant and keyword rich content for the search engines.
Website Marketing
When your IDX search solution is doing all of these things, your only challenge is getting visitors there for their first visit.  They'll find a search solution that exceeds their expectations, they'll keep coming back to search, and you'll likely end up with their contact information entered to save or share searches.  Once you have that, your next marketing phase kicks in; working with the prospect until they're ready to do a deal and get you paid.

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Luis Iniguez
Option One Real Estate - Fontana, CA
Search Inland Empire Homes For Sale - Short Sale Agent

I will be reviewing this IDX option.  Hopefully its as good as it sounds.

Dec 28, 2011 05:34 PM #1
Bart Foster
Keller Williams Realty Boston - Metro - Boston, MA
Boston MA Real Estate

Features I would expect are often beyond most IDX's but are possible if they thought VOW (Virtual Office Website). Some MLS's have restrictions what data can be shown to the general public or for that matter web bots.  Massachusett's mlsPin is one of these. However a registered user on one with whom I registered would not be considered a "public user" and therefore I may offer a VOW solution which has no restrictions other than private realtor specific fields. The IDX is the public face to my current website, however once logged in, it gives the VOW experience. IDX mandates I inform who the listing broker/agent is, not so on the VOW (its no different than if I were printing out the listing sheet and handing it to the client). And quite honestly why would I want to?  Many IDX's limit display of Open House's, not so on the VOW. IDX's rarely give sold history. VOW's may. So what I would be looking for would be a VOW not an IDX (Internet Data eXchange) solution.

Dec 29, 2011 03:33 AM #2
Jim Kimmons
RealtySoft.com Chief Evangelist - Taos, NM


My local small MLS has been that way since I came here.  About 25% of available information fields are shown in the IDX.  However, far from considering that a problem, I've used it for years to bring in business.

Right next to the search, I explain the fact that the rules limit what can be shown, and that it's all they'll see on every other site...except mine.  I then offer a short form that asks for name, email, and just list the MLS numbers for which they want all of the available information.

In busier times, I would get hundreds of these, fewer now, but still my best lead source.  I then put them into an email drip campaign and work them until they're ready.  I hope they never get more progressive here.

Thanks for the comment,


Dec 29, 2011 03:43 AM #3
Bart Foster
Keller Williams Realty Boston - Metro - Boston, MA
Boston MA Real Estate

We have similar restrictions unless they are a registered buyer/seller/or other person with an interest in Real Estate. Then my own MLS's IDX/VOW makes no further restrictions on the data displayed... assuming the person is logged in. This is the problem with 90% of all IDX providers. They can not make adjustments for the case where I authorize a user and or the user identifies themselves by a username and password. I hope more IDX's learn to read the rules and implement them correctly vs. just saying the MLS restricts the data.

Dec 29, 2011 07:07 AM #4
Ron Tarvin
Luxury and New Construction in Katy & Cypress TX - Katy, TX
Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095

I've looked into IDX solutions for the applications that I want to use them for but our MLS has extra fees associated with them and the only company I've ever seen that somehow gets around all that has been Housevalues/Justlisted/Marketleader.  If you ask any other IDX provider, they all say that our MLS doesn't permit it without the broker fees being paid and on top of a monthly IDX it seems quite costly. 


From a use perspective, you have to be able to deliver listings to the public in EXCHANGE for registration (hence, internet data EXCHANGE!).  To be more specific, it helps to be able to set the parameters for which registration is required such as to see more photos or to see more than 5 listings or some such trigger that initiates a registration protocol.  



Dec 29, 2011 08:42 AM #5
Richard Willard
Asset Realty Group - Bellevue, WA
Richard Delane Willard

I currently have two websites, one is provided by iHouse Web, the other by Market Leader.  I am no longer paying Market Leader for their leads, that didn't prove out for the 6 months I used them.  I am still working with some of the leads though and it will likely pay out and give me a return on my investment.  I would like to explore a website review, not fully understanding the differences of what Realtysoft offers versus what I have now.  The VOW discussion eludes me.  Thanks for the article, informative and useful, perhaps for me...

Dec 29, 2011 12:52 PM #6
1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

I am amazed at real estate agents that still do not even know what IDX is.. 

Dec 29, 2011 02:46 PM #7
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h

I'm getting ready to start up my realtysoft website with IDX. So, it will be interesting to compare before and after lead generation results. 

Jan 07, 2012 04:32 PM #8
John Mosier
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert - Prescott, AZ
Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142

Thanks for your post, Jim. I am actively looking for an IDX solution. I have used Market Leader for around 16 months and I absolutely HATE it. Market Leader was obviously written by developers who have never done real estate.  One of the things I do like about Market Leader is that they log every property view and allow each site visitor to save "favorites."

My market is Prescott, Arizona which is at an elevation of around 5,300 feet. That is not high enough for a ski area, but it IS high enough to beat the heat in Phoenix. As in your market many of our sales are for second homes. However the Prescott area is a most popular place to retire.

Jan 31, 2012 07:41 PM #9
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