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3 Ways to Add IDX to Your Real Estate Website

find motivated seller leads

It should go without saying that, these days, you won’t get very far in the real estate industry without a robust web presence. While there is no shortage of effective real estate marketing tools and techniques that you can leverage offline, today’s buyers and sellers expect their real estate agents and teams to be as accessible online as they are off. That means having a strong social media game, maybe some walkthrough videos, and, of course, a website.

But don’t expect to get away with a few static pages advertising your services. Instead, you need a living, breathing website that your customers can visit to see the latest real estate listings in their area. And this requires knowing how to integrate your real estate website with IDX. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what this means, then explore the multiple ways you can go about doing this.

What is IDX?

IDX, which stands for internet data exchange, is the set of standards, policies, and software that allows anyone to display up-to-date real estate listings on their own website. Since it was introduced in the early 2000s, IDX has become the standard way for brokers to show off the homes and properties they are helping to sell.

IDX works by connecting to MLS (multiple listing service), importing relevant data, and then displaying these listings within your website. Because MLS updates every few hours, IDX ensures that you will have the most up-to-date information available.

Do you really need an IDX real estate website?

The short answer is yes. If you want to make it easy for your leads to look at your property listings, while also leveling the playing field with larger real estate organizations, then an IDX real estate website is your best option.

Consider the fact that, according to a 2021 NAR survey, 97 percent of homebuyers turned to the internet first in their home search. That’s because, aided both by the general ubiquity of online shopping and by prominent real estate sites like Zillow, today’s consumers have come to expect the convenience of quickly looking through local listings. In order to meet these expectations, as well as compete with the larger websites, 91 percent of real estate firms now use an IDX real estate website.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the top benefits IDX websites offer:

  • Accurate and updated listings: Nothing is more disappointing for a home buyer than to fall in love with an online listing only to learn later that it’s already sold. By regularly and automatically updating with the latest MLS listings, IDX prevents this from ever happening.
  • Increased lead generation: IDX real estate websites can help you generate leads simply by making your website an easy and attractive place to see listings. But when you pair this with lead capture forms and other lead gen tools, you can turn your website into a lead collection powerhouse.
  • Visitor information collection: When visitors search for properties on your website, you’ll be able to see that information and use it to your advantage. For example, you may notice that more visitors are looking at one neighborhood more than any other, which may be a sign you should invest more of your marketing there.
  • More efficient marketing: IDX can give real estate agents much more exposure. Not only does it give them the ability to let other people share listings on their social networks, but you can also allow other brokers to showcase your listings on their websites as well. The effect of both can give you a much larger reach.
  • Higher quality engagement: An IDX website that constantly updates gives visitors more reason to keep coming back to it. They’ll likely stay longer to browse through the listings, especially if you can offer additional features, such as an interactive map or the ability to save favorite properties.

3 ways to build an IDX website

Depending on your specific needs, there are several ways you can build IDX into your website. Whether you need to get your website out there as soon as possible, want to integrate it into an existing webpage, or require complete custom control, here are some ways you can create an IDX real estate website.

The DIY way: Hand-coding

Hand-coding IDX into a website is by far the most flexible option, which may make it attractive to some. It’s also the most difficult and time-consuming. While most agents might want to look for an easier option, it may be worth considering for those with highly specific needs who also happen to have extensive web development experience.

The process would involve first selecting an IDX provider that offers the data feed and functionality you need. Once you sign up, you’ll likely receive an API key in order to access the data. From here, you’ll have to build the website. Decide on how you want to display your listings — perhaps you want a carousel, a simple list, or maybe even an interactive map — then write out the necessary HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code for your website. Use the API to fetch the property listing data from the IDX database, then start organizing that data and testing out your custom integration.

This is an extremely high-level overview of this process, but it should give you an idea of the level of difficulty it involves. But for those who can manage it, a hand-coded IDX integration may be the best way to go.


  • Customization and control
  • Ability to add unique features
  • Seamless integration with existing website design
  • More performance optimization options
  • No third-party dependencies


  • Requires extensive web development knowledge
  • Time-consuming

The third-party way: Plugins

Plugins can be a great option for anyone who wants the ability to customize the look and feel of their IDX integration, but needs something much easier to deal with than hand-coding. They are typically used alongside a content management system (CMS) that also integrates into your website. Popular content management systems include Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.

After installing and setting up your preferred CMS on your domain, the process here would involve choosing the right plugin for your needs. For example, some popular WordPress IDX plugins include:

Once you choose the plugin that will work best for you, download it and follow the instructions for installing it in your CMS. You should then be able to start customizing it, such as by choosing a website theme, adding in your company logo, and writing out the copy you want to surround your listings (like your contact information). If everything is working correctly, you should have an attractive website populated with your latest listings.

IDX plugins can act like a good shortcut for anyone looking for an easier way to display up-to-date properties on their webpage. But the ability to completely customize the look and feel of your CMS also makes them an attractive option for those who want a greater degree of freedom.


  • No extensive web development experienced required
  • Customization options available 
  • Relatively quick to set up
  • A range of different options


  • Most plugins will come with a monthly cost
  • Customization options may not be extensive enough
  • Necessary third-party dependencies

The fast and easy way: Templates

This approach relies on pre-built templates, provided by full-service website builders, that make it quick and easy to get your IDX real estate website up and running. These website builders can either be fully focused on the needs of the real estate industry or meant for a more general audience. Regardless, they will come up with some options for customizing the look of your website and adding in content, while requiring you to adhere to the basic structure of their templates.

There are a variety of website providers you can choose from, depending on your needs. Here are a few popular options:

  • Squarespace: Although this is designed for a general audience, rather than a real estate-specific one, it comes with probably the largest library of templates. Squarespace has also gained a reputation for its strong design flexibility, making it easy to add in features like contact forms and photo carousels. However, it does lack the lead gen options and integrated CRMs that some other platforms offer. It also requires the use of a third-party for IDX integration, which may mean limited search options.
  • Placester: For those looking for an option more specific to the needs of the real estate industry, Placester may be a good choice. The service gives you the option of either taking a DIY approach and building off templates, or paying extra to have them build it all for you. The service also comes with a basic CRM for Realtors whose marketing needs don’t go very far beyond email. However, like Squarespace, it does create native IDX integrations, which may limit your customization options.
  • Sierra Interactive: This option may be near and dear to our hearts, but Sierra is here for a good reason. While we offer templated site designs to get you going quickly, we differentiate ourselves by building every website by hand, giving you a lighter structure that’s easier to update and comes with the full SEO benefits of a customized design. Unlike everyone else, we also don’t use any third-party services for IDX integration. Instead, we integrate directly with the MLS feeds through IDX, allowing us to access data that is not otherwise available. That means customers can conduct hyperlocal searches in order to find exactly what they need. Plus, each website is fully compatible with our powerful CRM and part of our streamlined approach to lead generation. It’s the quickest, easiest way to get a professional real estate website up and running.

There are plenty of other options out there depending on your own particular needs and budget. But regardless of which one you choose, the template approach is a great option for anyone looking for a hassle-free way to start taking advantage of the benefits of IDX.


  • No extensive web development experienced required
  • A range of customization options available 
  • Extremely quick and simple to set up
  • Additional SEO and lead gen capabilities


  • Costs can range
  • Customization options may not be extensive enough
  • Possible third-party dependencies

Conclusion: Get an IDX website worth sharing with Sierra

If you’re interested in integrating IDX into your real estate website, then you’re interested in building a better, more useful, and more beautiful experience for your visitors. And that’s exactly what Sierra’s websites are designed to do.

Our industry-leading IDX sites give you granular capabilities that allow you to put in search criteria on any of your pages so that leads can find what they need fast — helping them convert better and ensuring you rank high organically in your local market. 

You’ll also get control over how your listings appear on your site, with plenty of stunning photography and bold typography, and can collect even more leads with the option to require registration via email, social media, or even phone number. And because listings are updated hourly, you can rest easy knowing you have the most up-to-date information available.

What else? Your site will be fully responsive so that visitors can view it from their home computer then bring it up again while they’re on the go. You’ll also have the option to create featured searches for high-interest properties, such as new listings and open houses. And, if you’d like, you can even include multiple MLS feeds on a single site. All this, plus integration with our comprehensive real estate CRM, is why so many teams are choosing Sierra.

Let’s find out what we can do for you. Schedule a demo with us today.


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