In a nutshell, Internet Data Exchange, most commonly referred to as IDX, is how MLS listings end up on a website.
Also known as Broker Reciprocity, IDX encompasses the policies, rules, and software that allow listings from the MLS database to be displayed publicly.
Anytime you see properties on a website that came from an MLS, it was made possible through IDX.
Most real estate agents and brokers use IDX to simply display MLS listings or home search tools on their website, but as home buyers have become more Internet-savvy, IDX has evolved to encompass more. Agents today have the option to use basic home search tools provided by their MLS, or build more advanced IDX solutions; usually with the help of an IDX vendor.
The History of IDX
IDX makes it easy for the public to access a large number of homes for sale, but this was not always the case. Previously the process of selling and buying a home looked more like this:
- 1. home seller hires an agent to sell their home
- 2. agent adds the home to the MLS database
- 3. home buyer hires an agent to find a home
- 4. agent searches the MLS for a match
As only MLS members could access the database, buyers sometimes had a difficult time finding their ideal property.
IDX was created to solve this problem. With the formation of new rules and policies, real estate agents and brokers could display parts of the MLS database on their website using IDX.
Following the creation of IDX policies, MLSs began to offer basic IDX search products as a benefit to their members and property searching soon became a vital part of any real estate website.
IDX Data Feeds
Over time, agents wanted more than the basic search products their MLS offered, so a new raw IDX data feed option was created. Raw data feeds allow agents and brokers to download all available IDX listings in a simple format (similar to an Excel spreadsheet) that could be used with custom home search applications.
IDX data feeds provided agents the freedom to create their own custom home search solutions, but most agents lacked the programming know-how and turned to software developers for help implementing the feeds. As more real estate agents sought out these advanced IDX solutions, new companies that specialized in IDX sites and other search products became known as IDX vendors. These vendors make it easy to add an IDX solution that’s tailored for a specific real estate market, a certain type of buyer, or even a particular business goal.
With the help of IDX vendor products, today you can find IDX in use all over the web. From older-styled search forms to search pages with interactive maps and even mobile IDX apps, it’s now easier than ever to add IDX to a website. Most websites displaying MLS data on their site today use an IDX vendor. Learn about the search tools now available, including a comparison of the major IDX providers, in our IDX vendor guide.
You can also see how Diverse Solutions stacks up as an IDX vendor by checking out the regular updates and product enhancements discussed in our client newsletters each month. You can find all our past IDX-related client newsletters in our Newsletter Archive.