Real Estate IDX feeds – What are they, and why do I need one? (2022 Updated)

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed AgentNovember 16, 2022

Real,Estate,Professional,Multiple,Listing,Service,List,Of,Sold,PropertiesReal estate commissions work with legislatures at the state level to set licensing standards and regulations that govern the real estate industry. The National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association for agents and brokers, works to protect the interests of its members at the national level. Members can also choose to join one or more of the 1,600+ local Realtor boards or associations. Many agents decide to join the association in their respective city to access the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). There isn’t a national MLS, but NAR does have a heavy hand when it comes to setting policies for the MLS that those local associations then follow.

As technology developed further and the internet made big headway in the 90s, there was an influx of people who wanted to learn more about the home buying and selling process. In the late 1800s, real estate brokers regularly gathered around their local associations to share information about properties they were trying to sell. They then agreed to compensate other agents and brokers who helped sell their listings, and the first MLS was born. Today, the MLS is a large database that houses detailed info about all listed properties and comments about showings between members. Initially, all info from the MLS was strictly reserved for member agents and brokers. However, after a while, many agents and brokers wanted a way to share some of this property info on their websites for clients to see. That’s when NAR came up with a solution, creating regulations for Information Data Exchanges (IDX) to allow a portion of the data contained in the MLS, such as properties a broker has listed for sale, to appear on agent or brokerage lead generation websites.

Real,Estate,Broker,Residential,House,Sale,Listing,Contract,Paperwork,AndThis need then introduced a new business model into the real estate industry. The days of traditional brick-and-mortar brokerages started to become a thing of the past thanks to the opportunities the internet provided. Real estate agents could suddenly expand their business in the community by building an Internet-only model. The traditional full-service brokerages no longer welcomed these agents. Many of these digital brokerages would charge significantly lower fees for listing a property on the MLS. Once these old-school agents and brokers saw the shift happening, they wanted to get NAR on board to help change the regulations about who has access to the MLS data. They felt a sense of urgency to protect the value of their service for buyers and sellers.

NAR first tried to limit access to MLS data with new rules that aimed to punish digital brokerages. However, The Department of Justice quickly got involved by filing an antitrust lawsuit against NAR in the mid-2000s. The case claimed that NAR was using unfair and anticompetitive practices when it came to the MLS. The lawsuit stated that NAR’s latest regulations discouraged competition by agents choosing to operate digitally. Additionally, the lawsuit claimed that NAR was introducing anti-competitive price-setting throughout the real estate industry by discouraging competition. A final decision was reached in this case in 2008, setting forth specific procedures and practices related to access to the IDX to encourage fair competition within the real estate industry. Today, most real estate website builders include the option for IDX functionality. Those are often the best real estate lead generation websites you can buy.

The controversy of IDX Listings on Social Media

Young,Woman,Using,Smart,Phone,social,Media,Concept.The rules governing the display of IDX listings include requirements to identify and link back to the listing broker, and to protect listings data from unauthorized users. Third-party listings websites that “scrape,” or copy listings from IDX websites in order to generate leads that can be sold back to real estate agents, are of particular concern to some brokers.

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 11/16/2022

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