Good things are happening with the IDX rules from NAR. As many of you know, IDX or Internet Data Exchange are the policies that allow brokers to provide the complete inventory or listings available in their area on broker websites. These policies have been in place for some time, but thanks to the great efforts of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, these policies have been overhauled to make IDX data work even harder for brokerages across America.
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World(LeadingRE) outlined several ways that IDX data could be more effective at engaging potential buyers and sellers on broker websites. The fruits of their labor are providing exciting ways for brokers to enhance and deepen the quality of information they can offer to consumers.
1. Sold Information
WAV Group conducts more research with consumers than anybody else in real estate. We talk regularly to consumers about what information they need to make an informed decision about their real estate purchase. Universally, consumers ask for more information and specifics about a property to better understand its history, strengths and key attributes. Most importantly, they want to know about sold information for active properties as well as sold information for comparable properties to a house they’re looking at. The new IDX rules now allow a broker to choose whether they would like to include SOLDS on their website to provide richer information. You just need to call your MLS and request that they switch your feed from one with just actives to one with actives and solds.
2. Richer Information Surrounding a Listing
Third party sites do a great job of surrounding a listing with all types of information that encourage a consumer to stay on their site longer and learn more many facets of a property. Now with the new IDX rules brokers can do the same thing. Brokers can add all types of information that make property detail pages more interesting.
To compete effectively for traffic online brokers can now share unique and compelling information that will help consumers make a more well-informed decision about homes they may be interested in.
I would also highly recommend that you study the ever-changing information that is offered by the third parties. They spend thousands every year testing new concepts with consumers. If they are showing a particular type of information chances are homebuyers and sellers are interested in it. Check out the detail pages of Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com and REALTOR.com to get some great ideas.
The rule of thumb I would follow: Think about ways that you can differentiate your site from other sites by providing unique, but meaningful information that consumers value when trying to make a decision about a home purchase.
There are tons of examples of the types of information that can be interest, but here are a few thought-starters to get your brainstorm going.
The new IDX rules allow you to surround a listing detail page with all kinds of interesting information. Here’s one to check out called TLCEngine. This product is kind of like a mortgage calculator on steroids. It helps a potential home buyer calculate not only the mortgage and taxes, but others factors that need to be considered when looking at the affordability of a home like commute time/costs, insurance, utilities, and other maintenance costs to give a customer the real picture of what it costs to own and maintain a home. As a homeowner of a 5-acre property with 27 zones of irrigation to maintain, I sure wish I would have TLCEngine before I purchased my home! In some months, landscaping maintenance on our multi-acre property is more than the mortgage!
While many brokers don’t love the Zestimate, it is true that consumers do have an obsession to understand how much homes are projected to be worth. Why not offer one or even multiple AVM’s so that consumers can compare and contrast and then come back to one of your agents to get the “real” story. NP Dodge in Omaha, NE does a brilliant job of using multiple AVM’s to generate leads for their properties and their agents.
Many REALTORS® shy away from sharing school information fearing they may provide incorrect information even though schools are one of the key drivers of property decisions. Today, there are tools like Onboard Informatics. They offer detailed, comprehensive school profiles which go “beyond the numbers” to include a school’s performance level, state test scores, teacher profiles, and even the physical condition of the building, all which can be compared at the school attendance zone, zip, state, city and address levels.
Real-time Drive Time
One of the biggest factors for choosing the location of a home can be commute time. By incorporating a product like Inrix, a broker can help a consumer understand how long it will take them to get to the home from their office at rush hour. It can be a helpful way to distinguish what neighborhoods are within the customer’s drive time threshold.
There are TONS of ideas like this – you just need to get creative. If you’re looking for ideas for new solutions, feel free to check out our sister company RE Technology.com.
3. Invite Innovation by Supporting RESO
The IDX rules also require your MLS to become RESO-certified by the end of 2015. Basically what this means is that every MLS in America will need to offer the same basic set of data fields so that listing information can be displayed universally. While this might sound like techno mumbo-gumbo, it’s actually a really good thing for brokers. Here’s why. If every one of your technology vendors doesn’t have to spend time, money and energy normalizing information across MLS markets, they can spend more time building innovative and exciting new products for you. You wont have to have staff that spends time making sure the data you receive from multiple MLSs matches and can be displayed on your site correctly.
What’s the best thing to do? Call your MLS and ask them when they are going to be RESO-compliant. It will open up all kinds of opportunities for you to make your site more interesting and differentiated from your competitors. Also, call each of your vendors and ask them when they are going to be RESO-certified. The more standardization we can create the more innovation that you will be able to offer to your clients.
There is a continual process in place to overhaul the IDX rules. If you have ideas about what you would like to see changed, feel free to send them our way and we’ll be sure to include them in the next set of suggested changes.