What do you need in your Real Estate IDX System?
March 24, 2011 Leave a comment
Real Estate IDX Features You Want
There are likely over 100 possible MLS IDX solutions available depending on what state or province you’re located in and local MLS rules. We all know you must have MLS listings on your site, since properties are what your visitors want to see. So, as you’re investigating how to integrate MLS listings into your site, you should also think about how you want those listings to be displayed and how the lead generation process should work.
Some IDX providers have systems that are standardized. They’ve considered the display and lead conversion process and have designed their MLS IDX system in a way they believe works best. However, many realtors aren’t satisfied with how their IDX system is setup. Many agents have strong preferences about how listings are displayed and how the visitor will be encouraged to make contact. Yes, any agent will have their own understanding of online listing presentation and lead generation psychology, yet each MLS IDX system may not let them have their way. Sometimes the IDX is limited in functionality because the provider wants you to buy customization programming so they can make more bucks. As you pay more, they free up the full functionality of their product.
So before you go out and commit to a particular IDX solution, what is it you want to see on your pages so that you create a new customer?
MLS Listing Search functionality
What is it you want the search functionality to achieve? Search should be broken down into neighbourhoods or zip codes since most people will be searching on those topics along with street names and mls #.
Number of Properties to Display. How many mls listings should be shown in the first search results page? MLS’s may only allow the querying or display of a few listings. Very strange since it doesn’t increase the server demand much, but there’s other reasons why they enforce limits. 8 listings per page is good since the visitor doesn’t have to click so much. Some will allow up to 30 listings. That may make page loading a problem and Google might discount your page if it takes too long to load.
Navigation buttons and links. These should be large so the person doesn’t get annoyed trying find a peck at a little tiny page number or “next.”
Initial pictures should be 300 pixels wide since larger pictures build interest and desire. On the single listing page, the pictures can be larger, up to 500 pixels.
Listings on maps. The listing should be mapped and a reference to Google maps with streetview is a helpful touch.
Saved Property Searches. Letting customers save searches is important because they have to register to do that. Anything that leads to a sign up is good.
Display Preferences. Here’s where 3rd party web hosting firms fall down Their displays are all the same and some use unattractive colors which visitors may not like. Custom programming means you can shape the layout and style along with what details are listings and emphasized.
Emphasizing Details that will lead to a Contact or registration. Consider which details get people’s attention and are part of the call to action. You’d want to emphasize the most salient aspects of the home. If square footage is large, you’ll want to emphasize that or if it has some spectacular feature like nice landscaping, nearness to schools, finished basement, large backyard, 3 bathrooms, or a 2 car garage, these are the rare features that eager buyers look for.
Here’s some listings that talk too much about the bathrooms. If it’s a condo, it should talk more about the views, building amenities, kitchen, cleanliness, safety, and location.
This Dallas real estate listing does nothing to build desire other than have the aerial photograph and a great slide show below. The most important details need to be highlighted.
If your MLS IDX listing provider doesn’t allow personal comments near the listing, then perhaps you can have a custom programmer add a text section above the listing so that you can point out that property’s most salient features. This could generate a lead so it is worth it not let your important visitor be unexcited by dull information. You’ve got to have spirit. Do you think this green color gets buyers in serious mood to inquire?
Slideshows on the single listing page are great. A quick way for them to scan the home. Let’s hope the pictures are good.
These are the keys to successful MLS IDX listings. If your current provider just doesn’t have a user friendly layout and navigation with the salient features highlighted, then you should consider another provider including custom IDX programming. Who has the best MLS IDX Listing system? There are some good ones at widely differing prices.