Comparing the Pros and Cons for Different Methods to Integrate Real Estate IDX Data

Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is the technology that allows you to display updated MLS listings on your website. This way, you can attract more leads and clients by offering them access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date property information in your market. But how do you integrate IDX data into your website and what are…

1. IDX Website Builder

One of the easiest and fastest ways to create a website with IDX data is to use an IDX website builder. An IDX website builder is a platform that provides you with a ready-made website template that already includes IDX integration. You just need to sign up, choose your design, customize your content, and connect your domain name.

You don’t need any technical skills or coding knowledge to create a professional-looking website with IDX data. You also don’t need to worry about hosting, security, updates, or maintenance, as the platform takes care of everything for you. Plus, you can benefit from features like lead capture forms, CRM integration, SEO tools, analytics, and more.

These solutions usually charge a subscription fee-based pricing model. The cost can vary depending on the features and level of service provided. However, it is usually more expensive than other options and you have less control and flexibility over your website design and functionality. You are limited by the templates and features that the platform offers, and you may not be able to customize them to your liking or add new functionalities like you can with more established website builders such as WordPress or SquareSpace.

2. WordPress IDX plugin

Another way to create a website with IDX data is to use a WordPress IDX plugin. An IDX plugin can be installed on your existing WordPress website to add IDX functionality. You need to have a WordPress website, whether self-hosted or cloud-hosted, and then choose an IDX plugin that works with your website theme and hosting provider.

You have more control and flexibility over your website design and functionality over a proprietary IDX website builder. You can choose from thousands of WordPress themes and plugins to customize your website to your needs and preferences. You can also add new features and functionalities that may not be available on an IDX website builder. You also own your website and data, and you can switch providers anytime. When software updates are available, you can easily download the updates in the WordPress admin or have WordPress regularly check and update your plugins in the background to ensure its compatibility and security.

You need some technical skills or coding knowledge to install and configure the plugin on your website. You also need to take care of hosting, security, updates, and maintenance yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. You would also have to coordinate with the real estate board and manage the IDX data feed yourself. Depending on how hands-on you are, this approach is often more affordable than subscribing to a specific IDX website builder platform.

In order to fetch new listings, the plugins usually require the WordPress host to periodically download new listings data from the IDX provider such as the CREA DDF to the WordPress database. While WordPress IDX plugins are generally a cost-effective solution for small real estate businesses with limited technical resources, be prepared to have a relatively more expensive hosting plan to store all the listings data as well as computing power to support real-time listing searches.

Some WordPress plugins are also fully compatible with only a certain set of WordPress themes, limiting which design template you are able to use. Therefore, the next option might be more attractive if you already have an online presence built using other non-Wordpress platforms.

3. IDX iFrame

An iFrame is a HTML code that allows you to embed another webpage within your webpage. You can copy a snippet of iFrame code from an IDX provider and paste it on your website where you want the listings to appear. The iFrame will display the listings from the source webpage on your webpage within an iFrame. This method offers a quick setup process, requires minimal coding effort, while being compatible with your existing website in almost all cases. Real estate professionals can display property listings without worrying about managing the data or dealing with plugins.

However, using an iFrame has many limitations and disadvantages for your website performance and user experience:

  • Does not integrate well with your website design and layout. It may look out of place or inconsistent with your branding and style.
  • Does not allow you to customize the listings or add features like lead capture forms, CRM integration, SEO tools, analytics, etc.
  • Does not improve your SEO ranking or organic traffic. Search engines do not index or crawl the content within an iFrame, so they do not recognize it as part of your website.
  • May cause security issues or compatibility problems with different browsers or devices.

The primary drawback is that the iFrame is technically just a window to an external website, with no interaction to the hosted website. This method makes more complicated interactions difficult, such as providing a seamless user login to a Virtual Office Website, or implementing a lead capture landing page for potential clients. Therefore, this approach has been falling in popularity compared to other more technically advanced options.

4. Embedded JavaScript Application

JavaScript application provides another option to integrate real estate IDX data that has been gaining popularity for upgrading an existing website, or putting together a fresh new landing page. An embedded JavaScript application is a web component that allows you to embed a dynamic and interactive property search engine into your website. Unlike an iFrame, which renders a separate web page within your web page, an embedded JavaScript application renders an application as part of your web page. This means it can adapt to the design and layout of your website, as well as interact with other elements on your web page.

This approach involves embedding a piece of HTML and/or Javascript snippet into your website which loads the application and data from a third party solution provider. It combines iFrame’s ease of implementation and an IDX Solution Provider’s functionality. You just need to copy and paste a snippet of code provided by your IDX provider into your web page and it gives you access to high-quality and standardized IDX data without requiring you to store or process it on your own server.

However, this approach too has some limitations compared to other options. An embedded JavaScript application may not match all the features or functionalities of your website and it may create compatibility issues with some browsers. Also, some website builders have restrictions on what third-party applications can be embedded in the web page.

5. Side by Side Comparison

Ease of UseFlexibilityCost
All-in-one Platform✓✓✓✓✓
WordPress Plugin✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓
iFrame Solution✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓
Javascript Application✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓

* The more the checks, the better the score

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all method to integrate real estate IDX data into your website, each with its own pros and cons. Depending on your goals, budget, skills, and preferences, you need to weigh these factors carefully before choosing the best method for your website.

RealtyVis is an affordable javascript application solution that offers the most flexibility in terms of supported platforms and integration with other systems. It is fully compliant with CREA and local real estate boards across Canada. Integrating with IDX real estate data using RealtyVis is simple and creates a professional-looking website that attracts more leads and clients.