How to Choose an IDX Plugin

In the world of IDX, it can be difficult to know what is what. There are many companies, technologies, payment plans, MLS, etc.

To keep it all straight, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose an IDX plugin.

TECHNOLOGIES – Organic v. Framing

The first thing to know is that not all IDX is equal in terms of benefits for agents and brokers.

Yes, all IDX plugins display searchable property listings on your site, but some IDX systems only involve an iframe.

Framing may have low upfront costs, but it is going to hurt your business in the long run.

The reason is that with framing, search engines cannot index or “read” the property listings on your site.

This will limit your search engine visibility and reduce the flow of traffic to your site:

Organic IDX systems provide a more robust alternative to framing.

Under organic IDX, all listing displayed on your website will reside on your website servers, allowing them to be indexed by search engines. In addition, organic systems will generate unique urls for each of your listing pages, increasing the likelihood that your page will rank highly in search engine results.

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “Is my IDX organic?”

MLS – Commingled v. Single MLS

Suppose that you are a real estate agent near the border of Kentucky and Illinois, or a broker with a regional coverage area.

You probably hold memberships in multiple MLS.

Some IDX systems will require you to have a separate IDX display for each.

You can imagine the hassle for users.

Others will be able to commingle properties in one searchable display on your site:

This is typically the case with organic and other systems involving a direct RETS connection.

The ability to commingle might be a good option if you expect to expand your business in the coming years.

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “Am I be able to commingle listings?”

HOSTING – Self-hosted v. Provider-hosted

Adding IDX to your site can involve dozens and sometimes hundreds of gigabytes of new data. You will need to decide where to host this data.

For maximum control, you should consider self-hosting. Many IDX providers will have a list of system requirements to make sure your self-hosting plan meets their guidelines.

If you want to keep everything under one roof, you may decided to host with your IDX provider. But you should be very clear with your provider about contracts and missed payments. You will want the flexibility to keep your website and listings data if at any point you decide to change IDX providers.

When you chose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “Am I able to host my own data?”

PAYMENT One-time v. Monthly

To attract customers, IDX providers have come up with a number of clever ways to structure payments. Some will require monthly fees. It may be a low upfront cost, but if you stop paying, they will remove your data. Others will require a contract. If you want to leave it early, there will be fees.

The simplest payment model is one-time:

Under a one-time payment you own the IDX software, meaning you can use it to connect to any MLS needed. While it will require a larger up-front payment, if you think you are going to need your IDX display for a year or more, an IDX plugin under a one-time payment likely will prove to be cheaper.

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “Do you offer your plugin under a one-time payment?”

FEATURES Add-ons v. Bundles

Many IDX providers will offer various options to upgrade your IDX software. This can come in the form of bundles: lite, broker, platinum, etc. It can be a good way to add some lead capture features to your site.

But make sure you are not getting locked into features you don’t need. For example, if you are in a rural community, maybe you don’t need a walkscore.

You should know that some providers offer their features a la carte, allowing you to pick and choose only the add-ons you need:

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “What features can I add on a la carte?”

THEMES Third-party v. In-house

When adding an IDX display to your site, you obviously want something that looks good.

Some IDX providers will offer a number of in-house themes that they have developed for use with their software.

This can be a good choice if you don’t have a website running already. But these themes are cookie-cutter, so it’s likely someone has a very similar site to yours already.

Other IDX providers will offer various levels of compatibility with third-party themes:

This can be good choice if you have a site already or if you have a particular theme that you work with often.

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “Is your plugin compatible with third-party themes?”

PLATFORMS WordPress v. Weebly v.Etc.

Very obviously, you should ask with which website builder platforms your IDX plugin will be compatible.

The general trend is that the more robust organic systems are offered for WordPress.

But if you are more comfortable on Weebly, etc. you should go with that.

When you choose an IDX plugin, you should ask, “What platforms is your software compatible with?”


To help you remember, here are the 7 key questions to ask when you choose an IDX plugin:

1) Is my IDX organic?

2) Am I able to comingle listings?

3) Am I able to host my own data?

4 ) Do you offer your plugin under a one-time payment?

5) Is your plugin compatible with third-party themes?

6) What features can I add on a la carte?

7) What platforms is your software compatible with?

Or contact us for a free consult on choosing an IDX system and the products Realtyna has to offer.

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The opinions or information expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views, policy, or position of Realtyna. The information on Realtyna’s Website is general, for informational purposes only, and is not to be relied upon or interpreted as real estate, legal, accounting, or other professional advice or a substitute. Please discuss anything related to the certification process, professional advice or legal procedures with your MLS providers.

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