Do the acronyms IDX and XML ring a bell? Chances are, if you’re in the real estate or home building industry a little “ding ding ding” noise is going off in your head and you’re thinking “I’ve seen those letters before.” The challenge for most non-technical people in the business is that they really don’t understand these terms and the impact they have on business today.
- IDX: This stands for Internet Data Exchange. This is the feed that is used to transfer data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to your website. Basically, this ‘feed’ allows your listings (and possibly other local agent listings) to display on your website. Now, we all know that the local MLSs are very protective of those listings. In most cases, in fact all markets and MLS I have experience with, you are only able to ‘recieve’ that data for display on your website. You are not allowed to reuse that data, and send a ‘feed’ of those listings to any other website…even if they are ‘your listings.’ And, editing the listing (changing the agents remarks when they are written in all capital letters or when they use industry acronyms) is very difficult and needs to happen at the MLS before the data transfer.
- XML: This stands for Extensible Markup Language. This is one of the ‘technical’ languages in which files are written in order to transfer information between databases. This is the most common process for data transfer in our industry. Basically, your website should be set up where it would create an XML file every night in the format that the receiver of your data would need. There are some industry standards for the format of the XML file, but because each receiver of the file (e.g. TheBDX, Zillow, Trulia, New Home Guide, etc.) stores and displays slightly different data on their sites, their XML file needs to be slightly different.
Both of these data transfer processes have some benefits, but also have limitations when not set up properly or managed within your company’s control. For example, using an IDX feed on your website may save you some time managing the homes listed by your agents, but what about your base price plans, unlisted pre-sales or homes under construction and under contract? Not to mention the ability to, and power of, syndicating your listings to other websites for distibution and lead generation.
By controlling your own data and creating your own XML files, builders are able to send all of their listing information from their database to third party sites such as New Home Source, Zillow and Trulia instead of relying on their local MLS, third party feed sources or manually entering those listings. Here’s a look at the advantages of creating your own XML feed:
- It is easier to be in control of the data you distribute online, and reduce the possibility of duplicating your listings online. Put it exactly where you want it, control exactly what it says, keep it consistent across all sites and manage it in only one place…your website.
- You can send and display more data than just your current agent listed properties. You can include base plan pricing, community information, floor plans and elevations, and other images and information.
- Your XML feed can be set up to automatically deliver data to third-party listing sites as often as you like. You can even set it up to send your updated information daily or multiple times every day. In addition, you display it on your social media sites and mobile site. Have you seen the Facebook pages that have listing searches? How cool are those pages, and how in control are those builders that are able to manage and control those listings and that user experience?
As with anything your company produces, your information and your own data feeds will have to be tweaked from time to time, but the control of information will ultimately be up to you…keeping you in control of your most important assets: your products, your brand and your reputation.
Ready to take back control of your data? Contact Marketing RELEVANCE for more information on creating your own XML feed.