How do I know which IDX format I need

What IDX Format is Right for You?

Dec 13, 2023

by Brett Woolley

A new year approaches, changes are coming to our industry, and the most common theme I see in the real estate community right now is uncertainty. This is particularly true for agents who specialize in representing buyers. As of writing this, no one knows for sure how buyer agent commissions will be handled in the future. The one thing agents, brokers and industry pundits agree on, however, is that buyer agents need to better communicate their value and provide a higher level of service. One way to provide a higher level of service is to offer your buyers a better home search tool through the power of IDX.

IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, is a fancy way of saying—public home search websites using data from the MLS. The Flexmls system offers a wide variety of IDX tools from simple to complex, depending on what you want to provide to your clients and prospects. This brief article seeks to demystify those options so that you can decide the best one for you.

I Just Want Simple and Inexpensive

Right on! A lot of agents want simple and inexpensive. In that case, you want to look at the Flexmls IDX SmartFrame. The SmartFrame gives you the most bang for the buck and once you subscribe, it becomes a part of your Flexmls account under Preferences, and unlocks a hidden gem: the Flexmls IDX Manager. It’s so easy that your first IDX link is created for you, and you can use IDX Manager to customize the settings and create unlimited saved search, quick search, hotsheet links and more. Once you have your SmartFrame links they can go anywhere that touches the Internet. The SmartFrame coupled with Flexmls LIVE data is an extremely powerful solution yet simple and inexpensive.

You can put the link on social media, your email signature, or even forward a domain name to the link and use it as a website. With SmartFrame you can also put your link on a website provided by your broker, or a host of low-cost “template” websites like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. If you have a template website that you like, and it already comes with another third-party IDX link, you can still edit that link and use Flexmls SmartFrame instead to give your clients an enhanced LIVE DATA search experience.

I Want my WordPress Site to Have IDX

OK, so you put a lot of time and effort into designing your own WordPress site. Good news! There is a Flexmls IDX WordPress Plugin! The WordPress plugin costs a little more, but they can jazz up your WordPress site with unique automated displays and search options without having to hire a programmer! You get the best of both worlds by having a WordPress site that you designed that includes custom home search options, without the time and cost of HTML programming or building it from scratch.

I Want a Completely Custom IDX Website

What if you want to go completely custom and build an IDX website from the ground up? In that case you want the Spark API toolkit or a RETS feed. Think of an API or RETS specifically for MLS information, that allows a programmer to design a website that can “talk” to the MLS and pull data and pictures. Because it is just raw data, the website developer can create a totally custom search interface using the information it gets from Flexmls. This is exactly how company websites, commercially available agent websites, and all the public portals like Zillow,, etc., were built. Having your own IDX website sounds exciting, but it does require programming skills that can be costly. So, if you want to go with that solution, remember in most markets, you may need permission from your MLS or pay license fees to use the API or RETS.

Here is a great resource page that compares these options.

Not long ago, I created a new webinar “Flexmls IDX: Your Competitive Edge”. This is a quick, 23-minute overview that goes over all of these options. You can even watch and interact with the FBS Products team throughout the webinar to get all your questions answered.


If you would like to talk with one of our IDX Product Consultants about these hosting options and other lead capture ideas, simply schedule a consultation below or call 866-320-9977 to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.


~Here’s to your success!

~ Brett