Q: So does this thing really automatically download all the MLS's listings and images so I don't have to manually update my client's website with listing information?
A: Yes. The IDXManager™ add-on for Open-Realty® was designed to import IDX FTP listing data and .jpg photos into Open-Realty®'s listing database and assign the imported listings to the site owner's individual Agents that are setup in Open-Realty® (if they in fact have any listings in the IDX). The entire import process can be completely automated using CRON and CURL if your server supports both. It must be noted that in many areas the IDX database that is available may not be a 100% representation of all available listings in an area, because IDX is an opt-in system based completely on Broker/Listing Office participation.
Q: What is all this IDX stuff anyway? Why would a Real Estate office want to use it?
A: IDX (Internet Data Exchange) is a MLS sponsored, opt-in, member based program of "Broker Reciprocity" that allows any Real Estate Office who participates in their local IDX program to display all the listings of all the other participating Offices on their respective web sites. The National Association of Realtors® has required all MLS services in the U.S. to provide an IDX program (of some kind) to their members since 2001. The IDX database itself is simply a set of delimited text files, that contain detailed listing information for only the Offices/Agents who have chosen to participate in their local IDX program. The raw IDX data files are provided via an FTP server and are updated once per day most typically, and collections of .jpg photos corrosponding to any newly added listings are usually provided alongside the same raw IDX data files. The IDXManager add-on™ allows an office to import this valuable information into Open-Realty®'s listing database which in turn allows an office to provide a lot of listing information in a customizable, searchable and lead generating format to potential property buyers and sellers. Having a web site that imports and displays all the IDX listings for an area adds another layer of professional marketing and lead generation an Office can utilize at a very low cost. It is estimated that 70+% of potential home and property buyers use the internet to obtain listing information and/or to select an Agent prior to making a purchase.
Q: Will "MLS XXXX's" IDX information work with your software?
A: Maybe: IDX FTP repositories are generated and provided by several different MLS Software vendor's listing management solutions almost all of which take a different approach and use different methods to provide "IDX". The larger vendors have captured more of the business and use commonly accepted data formats and delivery methods which are compatible with the IDXManager™ addon. In many areas the MLS has employed a "home-grown" solution, and those may or may not be based on one of the larger vendors' concepts making those possibly compatible. Evaluating your client's IDX FTP server and data for compatibility can be quickly and easily determined beforehand, free of charge, if you already have access to the MLS's IDX FTP server.
Q: Is a web site running Open-Realty® completely customizable? I already have a design that I am using for my client, and they don't want a "cookie-cutter" web site.
A: Yes. Open-Realty® has a well-established and standards compliant XHTML templating system, making it very easy to adapt an existing site or design. Making use of Open-Realty®'s various template tags, a designer can arrange and display listing information and many dynamic site features in virtually unlimited ways. Just about all aspects of the display layer in Open-realty® are completely customizable using HTML and CSS.
Q: Will my client's IDXManagerTM enabled Open-Realty site rank better with the search engines?
A: Most definitely! Unlike other IDX solutions for Real Estate that provide <iframe> content and are hosted by a 3rd party, Open-Realty® and the IDXManager™ add-on were designed to operate under your domain name (yourdomain.com) so that all page views, visitor statistics/feedback, and search engine spider results are all generated, tracked, and centralized completely within the site. Depending on the number of IDX listings available from the MLS, Your client will have literally hundreds if not tens of thousands of unique and search engine spider-able pages available as candy for the search engine spiders, not to mention a wealth of self-service information available to their site visitors who are new potential clients.
Q: Can I decide what fields of listing information are displayed on the site? I don't want to display the phone numbers of competing Agents for instance.
A: Yes. You have 100% control of what listing fields are displayed or hidden. Check with your local IDX usage rules to see what fields you absolutely must display.
Q: Can additional listings be added to the site that are not in the IDX?
A: Maybe. Most MLS's have rules stating that you cannot co-mingle MLS listings and non-MLS listings. Check your local IDX usage rules for specific details. Otherwise, you are not restricted by the software from adding an unlimited number of listings.
Q: Will the listing search page be completely customizable, meaning can I choose what fields are searchable?
A: Yes. There can at times however, be limitations to what fields you can and cannot search against because the quality of data provided by the MLS is inconsistent. Since the control of providing consistent data is in the hands of the MLS, therein would lie the solution if a field you wanted to be searchable, for some reason could not be made searchable. Otherwise, the listing search page can be setup to be nearly as simple, or as complicated as you wish.
Q: Can Agents "feature" listings to showcase them, to make them stand apart from the rest of the listings on the site?
A: Yes. You can select any listing on the site to be st as featured. This is accomplished on a per-Agent basis, since each Agent's IDX listings are already assigned to them by the system. The site Admin can also set any listing in the system to be "featured".
Q: What if the MLS changes things around, do I have to buy everything all over again?
A: Probably not. The IDXManager™ for Open-Realty® was designed to be adaptable, and can be re-configured to adapt to a variety of file formats, and most changes that can occur. Adapting to change is a necessary and anticipated ability of the IDXManager™ addon.
IDX FAQ (c) 2005-2008 PIV Inc. All rights reserved.