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5 Keys to a Stronger IDX Website

December 29 2013

online house cursorEvery year, more and more consumers use the Internet during their home search process. According to NAR's most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, that number has grown to a whopping 92 percent. Agents can no longer afford to have a weak or, worse, non-existent presence online.

Fortunately, most real estate professionals are savvy enough to recognize this. To capture searchers online, many agents turn to IDX-enabled websites. An IDX feature allows consumers to search all available properties in a market right from an agent's website. Allowing visitors to search all homes in area, rather than just your individual listings, gives them more reason to stay on your website--in theory.

The truth is that the Internet is flooded with agent websites, both good and bad. In order to attract and keep web searchers, REALTORS® need to stand out from the competition. Wait, you're thinking, if everyone is getting the same IDX listing data from the MLS, how can I differentiate myself?

The trick is to select an IDX solution that augments the listing data with information and tools that potential buyers need. We've covered the basics of choosing an IDX provider before, but to learn more about what advanced features to look for, we turned to an expert. Peyman Aleagha is the CEO of WebsiteBox, a turnkey IDX website solution, and he shared a few tips with us.

Claim Ownership of Your IDX

Linking to your broker's IDX search is not the same as having a built-in solution on your website. In fact, linking out can be detrimental to your business, since agents have no control over leads that come in to their broker's site. "Would you take your walk-in prospects into your broker's office, introduce them, and leave them there to be served?" asks Aleagha. "Don't send your prospects off to be served by others by not having an IDX solution on your own website."

 

Make it Obvious, Make it Easy

"Web visitors are not patient people," says Aleagha. "They want to locate listings by characteristics, location, price, school systems, and in other ways. The search process needs to make it easy for them to find homes the way they want to find them."

Once you've verified that an IDX solution lets consumers search in multiple ways, make sure that it also offers flexibility in how search results are displayed. At a minimum, visitors should be able to sort results according to list price, square footage, bedrooms/baths and more. The best solutions will also allow searchers to view results on a map, and even refine those results in map view.

And don't forget to make your IDX search easy to find! A good website should offer IDX access right from the home page. Make your visitors go looking and they may just leave.

Be Generous with Information and Tools

When evaluating an IDX solution, Aleagha recommends putting yourself in a buyer's shoes. "If you were buying a home in a new area, what would you want to know?" For many buyers, that means detailed listing information and high-res photos, as well as community demographics and calculators for visitors curious about a home's monthly mortgage costs.

The local market is a concern for buyers (and sellers!), too. That's why some IDX providers, including WebsiteBox, offer features like:

  • Sales Trend Data
  • Comparables and Recently Sold Listings
  • Listing Comparison
  • Estimated Property Values

Marketing Capabilities are a Must

An IDX website must be useful to visitors, but it should also help agents market themselves and their listings. How? By integrating things like open house data, virtual tours and social media sharing tools right on the listing detail page.

And don't forget to make it easy for visitors to contact you. Make sure your phone number and email address are listed prominently on your site.

Provide Superior Service

Now that you've provided visitors with the information they need, make it easy for them to save that information. "Give consumers the ability to create custom searches and have new listings that match their criteria delivered to their email," says Aleagha. "This is what will keep them coming back and keep you top-of-mind when the time comes to move forward."

Great customer service keeps you top-of-mind, as well. The best IDX solutions come with powerful backend administration features that let you collaborate with clients, and even share documents, right from your website (for a detailed overview, click here).

Bottom line: a great website fulfills all of a searcher's needs. If a visitor can find everything they need on your site, they won't need to go to a competitor's site. Look for an IDX solution that offers an array of search, marketing, and customer service features.

What's on your wishlist of IDX features? We'd love to hear thoughts in the comments below.

Other articles of interest: Top Producer IDX | Birdview IDX