How many times have you had a buyer contact, asking about your listing they saw online – a listing that sold days or weeks ago? Or the angry agent who isn’t happy that their buyers are finding bad information on the web?
You know you need to have your listings everywhere but you don’t understand how to make it happen. The options in your MLS are confusing. You haven’t had time to make the phone calls to figure it out.
So you go from website to website, manually adding listings. Except you forget to go back and remove or edit the listings until someone calls you – and they aren’t happy.
Don’t be that agent. There’s a better way.
Most agents know that the MLS is a one and done kind of thing. You input your listings and (like magic) after a certain amount of time – depending on your MLS provider and the third parties that work with them – your listings show up all over the place: Realtor.com, Zillow, the big names in real estate, and smaller, lesser known sites.
But sometimes, things go wrong.
A few years ago, I worked for a local Realtor association that also provides MLS. They use a third-party vendor to allow brokers to decide which of their listings would go to dozens of other websites. Brokers select if their listings are allowed to go out to other websites through IDX – and which ones – and that vendor made sure they got there (all through the magic of IDX).
The rules changed at one point, requiring brokers to go in and update and change their settings.
Guess what happened?
People missed the message. Agents didn’t follow up with their brokers. Listings dropped from popular sites. Entire offices were dropped – the big ones with hundreds of agents and listings. The phones in the MLS rang off the hook – making me glad I worked in a different department. It took a while, but everyone got sorted out and listings started showing back on the web in different places.
My advice? If a notice comes out that has the words “MLS,” “IDX,” or “listings” in it, pay attention. Even if the message is for brokers, read it. Make sure you’re talking about it in sales meetings, too.
Thanks to miscommunication and messages going unread, you might think you can’t use the MLS to send your listings out to the other real estate websites. This will either prompt an angry call to your MLS, or you’ll be the one inputting individual listings on other websites – and then forgetting to update them later.
When in doubt, call and ask.
Okay, so there’s where your listings appear on other websites, but what about listings on your own website? First of all, please tell me you have a website.
You do? Good.
You have the ability to search listings on it, right?
Okay, silly question. Of course you do.
You don’t manually enter each listing in, right? Right?!
And you have more than just your own listings for buyers to view, right??
If you can’t answer those last two without feeling really confused, listen up. We need to talk.
The easiest, simplest way to make sure your website has a well-functioning search option for potential buyers who visit your website is an IDX feed. This is how everyone else’s websites have beautiful search options with listing information for people to see, too. It feels a little bit like magic, but it isn’t. I promise.
How do you get one? Well, you always want to talk to your MLS provider to find out what their specific rules are for IDX. Your broker may have to give written permission. You may need to fill out a form. Every MLS is a little different so it always pays to check.
Next, you can get the information (in the form of a raw IDX feed) from your MLS and, assuming you have mad website programming skills, add it to your website. (If you’re looking for instructions on how to do this, look somewhere else. I don’t have mad website programming skills.)
Your best and easiest option is to work with an IDX vendor who knows how to incorporate a search function into your website. Hmmmm, wonder who around here provides that?
Why is that the best option? Because their knowledge and skill gets you set up more quickly than you staying up until 3 a.m., mainlining coffee, while you try to figure it out for yourself.
The IDX is a feed directly from your MLS so when a change happens in the MLS, it shows up in the search results on your website – and every other website that has an IDX feed from your MLS.
If there’s a site you want to showcase your listings on, and you don’t have an option to add it from your MLS, talk to the site and your MLS to find out how they can connect. Hopefully, this will help prevent the need for you to manually add a listing and remember to update it later.
In this day and age of information at the touch of a screen and in the palm of our hand, there’s no reason why you should click from website to website to update one listing multiple times. And, with the IDX options available, there’s no reason for a bad listing (you know, the one that sold two weeks ago) to still live on the web somewhere.
To prevent this problem (and yes, there are other reasons why listing information is bad on the internet), use your MLS, pay attention to any rule or policy changes, and make sure you’re using IDX for your own website.
Former Communications Director for a local Realtor Association and a big cheerleader for all things real estate related, Michaela is now a full-time freelance writer specializing in real estate and other business industries. When she's not writing the serious business-y stuff, she's likely to be found writing about the hilarity of being a Mom to two rowdy boys.