From The Roanoke Times – “Exchanging Information over the Internet”

I’m a few weeks behind on this, but wanted to be sure it got out there. Sarah Cox of The Roanoke Times and I talked recently about the new real estate search on NRVLiving.com, as well as why being able to search for all New River Valley real estate is important. While I certainly want people to find me online, one point that’s missed is that information should be made as readily available as possible, and not hidden behind this veil of secrecy that real estate seems to crave. Real estate searches on NRVLiving.com bear that out … the site’s been inundated with recent searches.

IDX isn’t a new concept – it’s just that for a long time it’s been an overlooked concept.  It shouldn’t be an option for brokers to decide whether they want to share their listings with other brokers, in my opinion … the consumer should demand it.

Anywho, here’s the reprint – links to sites were included by me:

“Communicating with the public as become an ever-increasing part of the real estate world. It all goes under the umbrella of making information easily available so that potential clients will seek out you and your Web site.  So is the thought process behind the IDX system, or information data exchange, instituted by the New River Valley of REALTORS (NRVAR) in the early 2000s and modeled after the National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) model rules.

As REALTOR Jeremy Hart explained, IDX allows anyone to go to any real estate site and search all of the listings in an area, in this case the New River Valley.  It gives one who uploads to the NRVAR MLS access to all listings.

“It was an agreement among brokers that if I can advertise my listings on your Web sites, you can advertise on mine,” explained Elaine Head, executive director of the NRVAR.

‘The brokers’ agreement was that the listing would not have contact information of the listing company or the agent.  The idea was that ‘I’m a REALTOR and I’ve invested in a Web site, and when I direct people to go there, I want them to stay there,'” she said.

The only identification is the name of the listing company.

“There is a disclosure that this is not listed by me,” she added.

IDX is a service, and there are several types of these kind of services available.  A few agents – and now, the entire Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS office – have opted to add what Hart called a “more robust” service.  “What Townside did was to provide a better search provider so that you can get more information in one location,” said Hart.

Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside’s Blacksburg office, pointed out that IDX Broker, its new provider, allows for an easy property search of the New River and Roanoke Valleys.

“Apparently, most folks who are looking at real estate sites, either agent or company sites, are looking for the easiest and best search functions.  A REALTOR’s or firm’s access to all listings and their ability to post that information on their Web site is one of the biggest assets and added benefits to any seller who associates with a REALTOR, because it is an assurance to the seller that their property will be viewed on the Web site of any agent or firm.”

Desi Sowers of RE/MAX 8 said she has been providing IDX Broker as an added feature to homebuyers for about a year – “with outstanding results.  The service allows a buyer to have immediate access to homes as they come on the market.  Buyers can set their search parameters to receive detailed property information, including mapping features that will basically give them a street level view of the home and the neighborhood,” she said.

Diana Blair, manager of the RE/MAX 8 office, pointed out that many real estate firms are opting to allow IDX on their listings, and that each MLS broker group’s display can vary.  For instance, a firm with an MLS beach location could make the waterfront field.

“We use IDX to feed data to remax.com, Realtor.com, our agent sites, our company site, etc.  Each broker has to sign and submit an agreement to MLS for IDX Exchange,” she said.

And some agents, such as Hart and Sowers, provide their own IDX as well as using their agency’s.

With IDX Broker, said Hart, a person would have to enter in some basic information.  The map, he said, has proven to be highly popular.

“It plays into the visualization that the consumer seems to want.  We want to see things, and seeing it from different angles gives us a feeling of almost being able to touch what we’re looking at.”

Galecki said those who search the NRVAR MLS can now see current prices, current listings and new comments.  The map search, she said, is particular helpful because a visitor can key in on a certain reference point, which could be a specific distance from a school or workplace.

Hart and Sowers have gone to the extra expense of opting contract with IDX Broker themselves.  Is it worth is [sic]?

Sowers describes it as “a bonus level of customer service.”  Hart, admitting that real estate can be an expensive field, advises REALTORS to be discerning, but that being mobile-enabled is key, which IDX Broker is.

“But while real estate is expensive if you opt to have all the latest and greatest,” Hart says that in this case IDX and being mobile-enabled “are very good values for your business.”

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4 comments

  1. Jeremy_Hart says:

    I like how the map is broken up into selectable sections.

  2. chrissomers says:

    For searches on our website http://www.thesomersteam.com , the service is through e-webengine. For our new office site, http://www.accessphilly.com we are set up through Terabitz. An IDX agreement had to be approved through our MLS.

    What about you ?

  3. Jeremy_Hart says:

    Thanks for reading, Chris – what IDX service are you using?

  4. chrissomers says:

    Yes, the IDX and search functions really has allowed our website to grow. It is superb that consumers can readily find this info on an agents site or an office site that they gravitate towards. At the end of the day, it is all about the consumer. Great article.

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