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  • Real Estate: IDX

    By Dean Paul Dominguez, Instructor, Kaplan Professional Schools, San Francisco, CA
    Published October 2014

    Real estate marketing technologies are constantly evolving and real estate agents need to evolve with those technologies. One such technology is called IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, that lets the public view properties online by accessing websites that pay for access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).* This article describes IDX’s use in major real estate companies, discusses the challenges created by this environment, and offers suggestions to maximize IDX use in your own website to help you dominate your local market.

    Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are some of the familiar websites that use IDX. These sites obtain property information directly from the MLS. This information is fed into their websites, often in real time. Millions of visitors come to these sites daily. These companies often sell advertising to agents via zip codes, sell leads to agents, and have in-house agents to help visitors.

    IDX makes buyers and sellers savvier than ever before by offering price and neighborhood data. When property information is available in multiple platforms, real estate professionals do not need to spend a long time convincing buyers and sellers of today’s market prices—the information is already out there. With more transparent information, consumers can make more informed decisions.

    IDX’s impact to the consumer is largely positive. The consumer’s increased access to property listings does not pose any significant challenges to real estate professionals. Instead, the main challenge is this: when larger real estate websites receive millions of views, they end up at the top of the search engine results. Meanwhile, your agent website that possesses the same IDX technology gets pushed further down, becoming less and less relevant in the eyes of the search engine and consumer.

    For example, if a buyer searches for 123 Main Street, chances are they will find it on Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow first and not your website. While Redfin has the same property information you have, Redfin’s higher page ranking lets it be seen well before yours. The task now is to try and capture some of this very lucrative site traffic for your own site.

    You have two choices: the first is to pay to be advertised by these larger real estate websites. They are admittedly successful companies with millions of daily visitors and your website is likely not to compare. Subscribing to their monthly advertising programs could help you get more business. The second option is to improve the IDX on your own personal website to try and improve visitor site traffic. This article explores the second option: spicing up your IDX.

    You can spice up your IDX by featuring information about the property big real estate websites may not have. By featuring information about the property that the MLS does not have but is not confidential, you can provide specialized, local knowledge.

    For example, you can feature properties specifically in your local farm/local service area. Perhaps these properties just came on the market or recently underwent price changes. You can give your opinion on property photos (tip: keep it positive), look up and discuss walking scores as well as proximity to schools and freeways, and even point out local nearby restaurants.

    Highlighting any feature that adds something positive to the property while not revealing anything confidential is fair game (check with your local MLS board what is allowed). Pick a theme, keep it interesting, and get subscribers. Doing this for a few months can be promising and establishes your expertise.

    In summary, IDX helps consumers become savvier and also gives you a chance to be original and relevant in today’s real estate market. Just remember that IDX is only one aspect of your marketing plan that should be worked on but not solely relied upon. Successful real estate agents diversify their marketing efforts and consistently find ways to stand out from the crowd. With more than one million real estate licensees nationwide, you don’t just want to be one licensee out of a million—you want to be one-in-a-million.

     

     Dean Paul Dominguez is an instructor at Kaplan Professional Schools. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

     

    *Internet data exchange. (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Data_Exchange.

    †Field guide to quick real estate statistics. (2014).  Retrieved July 17, 2014, from  http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics.

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