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RISMEDIA, May 15, 2009-IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, or a system in which the broker members of a local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) agree to share their listings in a common database for broker use, as well as marketing release within strict guidelines. All participating brokers can display the IDX on their websites according to the guidelines, but what is displayed must be the agreed-upon information fields, and no others.

What happens in many MLSs is the old “hold back information so they’ll call you” mentality. Or, the listing brokers believe that too many fields in the IDX will allow the consumer to avoid contacting a Realtor for more information. When that mentality is in place, the data fields displayed are usually limited, with many that most consumers would consider necessary not shown.

One example is a rural area without acreage displayed with homes. Obviously, these rural homes have varying lot sizes, from sub-acre to larger acreage parcels. Not listing acreage with the home in the IDX is not helping the consumer to compare homes. This comes from a protectionism mindset that believes shorting the information will increase chances to force a call from the consumer.

This acreage example is one of many, and it isn’t always intentional. There are a great many fields, some appropriate for the public, and some that are not. It is likely that no IDX solution displays all public fields. Though a negative for the consumer, it’s far from negative for the smart real estate marketer. This is an opportunity for a great lead generation system. Here’s how one broker does it quite successfully:

The broker identified the most valuable fields to the consumer that are not displayed in her local MLS IDX.

Marketing on the website with widgets on the IDX search pages, she lets the consumer know that there is information they need, but she is not allowed to display.

A link to a sample full MLS detailed listing report with all public information fields is right there as well (use one of your own company listings for the example). The consumer sees the difference in how comprehensive the other report is in comparison to what’s displayed in the IDX.

To get the reports for listings of interest, a form widget is offered. The prospect enters their email address and the MLS numbers for the listings they want to know more about.

Once they submit the form, they are taken to a confirmation page that tells them that a manual report must be generated, so it might take a few hours to a day to deliver, and thanks them.

When the form is received, the agent cranks out the report and emails it out of the MLS system, as most allow.

A “thank you” is part of the email, as well as an invitation to send as many as desired when listings of interest are located in the IDX search.

The prospect is then placed in the follow-up drip email system for periodic emails to keep them involved until ready for a transaction.

You don’t have to be critical of other brokers, or of the MLS rules. It’s simply a matter of telling the site visitor the truth. You are not allowed to show detailed information on the site, but they can request it via the form. It’s about differentiating your services from all of the other identical IDX search forms out there. This site stands out from the rest, as they all show the same information without a method to receive more. In fact, the vast majority of visitors to these other sites do not even know how much they’re not seeing-until they find a site that tells them.

One email that can be used in follow-up has the capability of strengthening the relationship with the customer and keeping them involved until they’re ready. Our example broker now knows the kind of properties they are considering from their submitted form. A sample report of other listings that match those criteria can be sent to them with an offer to set up automated alerts to get new listings in front of them as soon as they are entered.

This has been one of the most successful methods used by this broker in gathering prospect email addresses from her site. The visitor perceives this broker as being more open and forthcoming with information than those “others” who restrict the information available. Yes, it’s the rules, but the resourceful agent finds a way to capitalize on the situation.

Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft provides real estate professionals with affordable Real Estate Website Design, Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX & MLS Search solutions.

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