Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is the transfer of MLS data from the Board of Realtors to websites. There is a long, sordid history of how the IDX feeds came to be and are used today including the 2009 battle between a Realtor, MIBOR and ultimately the National Association of Realtors (NAR) (the back story starts here, is followed up here, ultimately ends here).
If you’re new to the space, there’s a lot of history catch up on, but we’ll simply fast forward to last week wherein agents with IDX feeds going to their sites and being indexed by Google were in the SEO position to outrank many of their competitors, even the big boys Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com for local listing search results.
That was last week. Welcome to this week, post NAR’s Annual Convention wherein the Directors voted to “expand NAR’s IDX policy to allow MLS participants to provide IDX data to real estate franchise organizations to index and display on their websites.”
According to the NAR, “The amendment comes with conditions, such as the need to promptly correct inaccurate or incomplete information and a prohibition on advertising on pages displaying the IDX information.”
Breaking it down in layman’s terms:
Justin LaJoie, CEO of Diverse Solutions (DS) said, “The expanded policy by NAR is going to start leveling the playing field for those that are using MLS data for SEO reasons. What this will do is allow the larger and national franchise websites to begin to compete in the search engines in their franchisees local markets. Once they are able to do that effectively then they will be able to compete with the likes of Realtor.com on a national level. Previously it was up the local franchisee to create a SEO strategy leveraging the local MLS listings which few of them did well. With this change they are going to get the power of the large franchise helping them in their local market.”
All that said, to me, the punchline to this whole update is who this ruling benefits. LaJoie continued, “This is good for the local franchise but potentially not so good for the local tech savvy agent who now has to compete with the franchise website for potential clients.”
So, the agents that are small potatoes that are fighting on the ground and living closing to closing without the benefit of getting the piece of everyone else’s pie are now competed against even by their big box broker who will most certainly use their ability to compete as a selling point (and some agents will fall for it), but the truth is that again, the individual agent has just been kicked in the teeth. In other words, the IDX arms race is on and agents have to compete for SEO position with any techie who decides to open up a real estate search site and now with their very own brokers.
AG is not affiliated with NAR or MIBOR; DS is an AG advertiser.