Displaying MLS listing data on your real estate website can be technical and complicated.
The way data is transferred from the MLS database to your website is the difference between IDX and RETS. Let’s define a few terms before diving in to see what is best for you and your business:
IDX (Internet Data Exchange) – IDX has been a longstanding term for agents and this is the technology that many agents are familiar with. Essentially IDX connects a real estate website to the MLS. It refers to the data exchange between an MLS board’s database and a real estate agent’s website. The property listings that are displayed here are only those allowed by other MLS participants.
IDX has IFrame & FTP which are ways that can display properties and listings on your website.
– An IFrame is a window within your site and it presents listings on your website via a link. There is no actual data that is transferring. While this requires minimal implementation, it is not a great option for SEO as no content is actually being added onto your site. This is detrimental in that Google will not rank you if you have no fresh content and this can really hurt your search rankings.
– FTP (File Transfer Protocol): FTP was another protocol used to transfer data from the MLS database to another database (such as an agent’s website). The data on your website would be synced with the MLS database usually once or twice a day. FTP has the benefits of SEO and customization but there is more technical involvement with this option.
RETS: MLS’ nationwide have been leaning more towards RETS which was launched in 1999.
RETS is more complicated in that the data presented is essentially ‘raw data’. This means a trained professional such as a computer programmer or additional software is needed to make sense of it. RETS provides access to listings and transaction data and is more flexible so that agents and brokers can fully customize their website. RETS listings can also be refreshed more regularly (like every 5-15 minutes!), giving your site visitors fresh listing data.
Now that you are familiar with the terms, what solution is best for you? Based on the options presented above, it may be obvious that IFrame should removed from your list of choices almost immediately. Why have a website that Google or other search engines can’t find?
If you are a brokerage, a single agent or have a team of agents, both IDX and RETS based websites will work for you. Many agents are still very familiar with IDX technology and while RETS has been around for over a decade, not many agents are familiar with it. There are many website companies that provide both IDX & RETS based websites. The most important things to consider is your budget and what features you want on your site.
Most companies charge between $60 – $220 per month for a simple real estate website. A more customized website can run you a one time fee between $1,800 – $10,000 plus monthly maintenance fees. Don’t forget to consider a CRM in the backend of your website. A CRM will allow you to organize the leads that come through your website and collect valuable information and even follow up for you. Check out this excellent article on Real Estate CRMs.
The MLS is ever evolving and there is a push for a new standard (click here for more information on RESO API).
Hopefully this article was able to explain the differences between IDX & RETS feeds.
If you’re considering a real estate website with a powerful backend CRM consider Ascend Lead Sites.