IDX Integration Shoppers Guide

Professional web developers prefer IDX integration solutions vs manual listing entries.

A Guide to IDX Integration for Real Estate Website Owners

Internet Display of your real estate listings on your own agency's website is one of the most effective ways to promote and sell a home. It has been proven time and again that web display is the best way to publicize your listings. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 97% of home buyers searched on the internet for their homes. Read their report here. The Great Pandemic of 2020-2022 has provided more incentive for home buyers to stay firmly planted in their seats at home. Even after the Great Pandemic is over, buyers are still not getting out to view the inventory in the traditional method.   Gone are the days when Real Estate Agents would pile buyers into their Cadillacs or Oldsmobiles and cruise around touring homes for sale.  Source:

The report showed that 97% of buyers used the internet. Of note is the fact that 76% of buyers used a tablet or mobile device with a small screen in their home search. The NAR also found that while Realtors used email at a 95% rate only 69% of them had a website, and most of these were quite outmoded at 5+ years old.  The NAR 2021 technology survey. Source:  found that among the top three tech tools, the local MLS association was the source of 30% of their leads. MLS enabled websites are often used to draw in those leads. 

The survey showed that only 69% of real estate professionals had their own website. The survey showed that 100% of them posted their listings on the MLS. The 31% of real estate professionals who did not have a website of their own were clearly relying on other's websites to drive buyers their way. Other companies such as Zillow, Redfin and ColdWell Banker have great buyers tools to allow MLS search right from their own websites. Allowing your own buyers to use these will cause them to question their loyalty to their current buyer's agent.  The best way to create more buyer loyalty is to host your own website with an MLS search feature.

How Can a Real Estate Professional Address This Shortcoming?

This subject always results in many questions. First step is to understand the technology and its impact on buyers. It's main impact will be to enable them to search faster without leaving their desks.

What is the MLS?

For the newly licenced real estate professional, the MLS is an association of real estate professionals that everyone must join. By joining you can call your self a Realtor, which is a trademarked name. There are many regional MLS's out there. One of our favourite MLS is the So.Cal MLS. The main benefit is the ability to post your listings to their database to be show to a wider audience. Once you get a listing, you would add it to the MLS database, and add photos and details. Listings that don't make it there are considered to be pocket listings. This sort of thing must never be done. 

What is the IDX?

Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is the application programming interface (API) and database that allow real estate agents and brokerages to provide their listings to a greater pool of listings. The IDX enables agents to have MLS Website Integration. IDX is the key to MLS Website integration. Without IDX, you would have to resort to manually adding your listings to your website.  IDX API software enables real estate professionals to display MLS listings on their own real estate agency websites.  A great IDX solution will link your own website directly to the MLS and show your own MLS listings in real-time. IDX Integration code behind your website will also allow you to display other agent's local listings on your own website as well. Your agency website will then become a localized MLS display portal for your buyers.

IDX integration helps you get prospects from all listings on your website by enabling a connection between your website and your MLS association, These listings are automatically updated often, so listings are always freshly updated on your web site as soon as they are listed, updated, edited or sold. 

How Does IDX work with MLS and Websites?

Corelogic and Trestle provide an Application Programming Interface (API) to that allows you to write code that will query the listings of a particular MLS association. The API is a sort of interface to the MLS database. Your backend code, written in PHP, C-sharp, or Java will connect the user facing pages to the databases and will perform a query of your listing each time the user views it. It can pull in all of your MLS photos, the property details and current status. 

How Does Zillow Do It?

IDX integration only works on individual agency websites. Realtor marketplaces or web portals like Zillow,, Trulia, RedFin and don’t use IDX. Instead, they typically receive property listings from brokerage syndications. These syndications often feature outdated MLS data. While it may appear to be mostly valid, don’t be surprised to find inaccurate or outdated information on these portals. Furthermore, don't let your buyers use these sites to find listings, they will be mostly disappointed.

What are Some of the IDX Rules?

  • ♠ to be displayed, listings must have a seller's consent
  • ♠ to display or not display an address, the permission must be granted
  • ♠ photos must have a watermark on them showing the MLS logo
  • ♠ You cannot alter the content of the listing
  • ♠ There are display rate limits to prevent excessive use
  • ♠ your site must have security features to prevent abuse and misuse of the MLS data
  • ♠ You must attribute others listings to the agent who owns it. You must show the owning agent's contact details.

How Can You Use the IDX on Your Own Website?

There are many ways to use the IDX to query the MLS on your own website. The IDX API is a very well documented system that anyone can use. The programming interface is very easy to understand and use. If you are a real estate professional you can write your own.

Can You Write Your Own Code?

There are many github examples to get stated. You can write code in PHP to query the MLS. The basis of all php code is the php curl statement. WIth curl, you can form queries and then reformat the results to your liking. You would take the query results and format with HTML and CSS to make it look presentable. The cost to do this is nothing. It's completely free. Just ask your MLS association to grant you access to the IDX and MLS. Unfortunately, IDX integration is not an out-of-the box option for your average real estate agent.  You could always hire a professional IDX solutions developer to assist with this task.

MLS Integration Tips

  • Do not use iframes to integrate IDX. it is an outmoded practice and is bad for SEO
  • Do not uise RETS, instead use WebAPI. RETS is outmoded. WebAPI is the newest framework.
  • Cache your listings photos on your own website and serve them up as needed. What you will find is that while you can serve them up directly from trestle, some foreign users may not be able to see them due to geo-ip filtering.
  • Always check permission values on listings and entities within listings. Do not display items for which the permission is not granted.
  • Always show the name and contact info for the agent who owns the listings.
  • Always use HTTPS for your pages. Keep your certificate up to date.
  • Verify that your MLS listings fit onto small screens such as iphone and android.
  • Use curl to retrieve listings, then use JSON decoding to sort it out into a nice web display. If you need to hire a professional IDX software solutions developer to assist in this task, this is where he/she will come into play.

Use a Wordpress plugin

Do you have a website that is built on the Wordpress CMS platform? Wordpress is a great way to build a real estate agency website. It's very easy to maintain. There are many themes out there that are very inexpensive. Wordpress is very easy to install and setup, you can do it yourself. If you want to delegate this task to a professional, Bare Wire Networks is a seasoned expert with Wordpress and other CMS platforms, along with having an expertise with IDX integration.  There are many IDX plugins for Wordpress, some of which are free. You just need to start with a Wordpress website, then install one of the many free plugins out there. For a little more money, you can get a low cost plugin from IDXCentral or IDX Broker for less than $50/ month.

The best way to find out what your wordpress options are is to login to your own Wordpress website, click on Plugins in the left column, and then Add Plugin. Type IDX in the search box, and you will see a variety of plugins appear from many sources.  If you read the reviews, you will see their shortcomings.  Most of the reviews mention level of support and stylistic design issues.  Many plugins have 3 out of 5 star reviews, and very few reviews at all.  Of all the plugins, EstaTik is one of the most widely reviewed plugins.  

Top Wordpress Plugins

What should a good wordpress plugin provide?

  • ♠ SEO features
  • ♠ Lead Capture
  • ♠ MLS Search
  • ♠ Showing your own listings
  • ♠ Mobile Responsiveness
  • ♠ Great tech support by US Based, English speaking people, not robots.


Estatik is a Ukrainian company with a NYC presence.  Their products include a Realtor Wordpress theme and a IDX plugin with MLS import.  It is well documented. See the docs:  There is a free option that includes many useful features.  With the free option, you get a taste of what their software is like.  To get full MLS import of your properties you will need to purchase their Estatik Premium package at $649.00.  Our own tests showed that their was not much flexibility in the layouts and the whole package appeared to be very much out of date and very outmoded.  To use it, you need to have a Wordpress website and one of their Themes installed. See the demo site at

IMPress Listings, also known as wp-listings by Agent Evolution

A free plugin to manually show your listings on a wordpress site. Unfortunately, the plugin has been closed since March 28, 2023 and is no longer available.  For the brave and daring hackers, they can still download the source code and manually install it into wordpress.

IMPress for IDX Broker

With thousands of installations, but only 3 out of 5 stars, most of the poor reviews are centered around it's treatment of SEO, and its general awkward design.  

Rover IDX

A very highly reviewed plugin that recieved all 5 star reviews.  It promises to provide search page for your visitors.  It is said to provide great SEO treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use WIX? -- NO
  • Can I use SquareSpace? -- NO
  • Can I integrate custom PHP code into my Wordpress -- YES
  • How much does it cost: usually around $45 - 75 /agent
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