mls idx rets integration
Real Estate

Access & Promote Listings Online with Real Estate MLS, IDX, and RETS Integration

Written by Rajat Khattar Posted by Carolina

Rajat Khattar

Though the main function of each real estate mobile app or software is data communication, MLS (Multiple Listing Service), IDX (Internet Data Exchange), and RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) are different in purpose. The intricacies of each can be complicated to a lot of agents, especially those who are not completely aware of those terms. Here are the differences among them, their functions, and how their integration supports daily real estate operations.


MLS integration allows brokerages or real estate agencies to share information about properties. This helps them to give their client the most informed facts about those properties. It is also a suite of services used to confirm contractual offers of compensation, and to gather and circulate information to get appraisals. Each MLS system is controlled locally by an association of brokerages and realtors, however, the MLS software is provided by private software companies or vendors. The listing data stored in a multiple listing service software archive is proprietary to the agency that posted the listing.


Originating in the early 2000s, IDX real estate software allows the public to search for properties in any given area. It is also used to cover policies, protocols and software controlling how listings are shared to the public. In addition, the IDX software facilitates the integration of real estate listings from the MLS database of members' websites. Agents and brokers can share appealing listings in their markets on their websites to attract prospective buyers with IDX integration. Ways to implement IDX include:

  • iFrame/widget - Search tools and property listings operate externally on the vendor's websiteusing the IDX framework, and are shared on the brokers and agents' sites.
  • CSV/flat file data feed – Here, MLS listings are available on an FTP server (comma-separated or formatted text file), however, software must be written to connect and download the listings on a daily basis.


The RETS software is a single language familiar to different systems that handle real estate information. It was introduced to the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) to help normalize the way software communicates with other software, such as various MLS systems. There is only one goal with the real estate transaction software to have all computers that use real estate information to speak the same language. That way, any computer that has adopted RETS will be able to process any MLS information. Benefits include:

  • Ability to customize how listing data will be displayed
  • Up-to-date listing data
  • Comprehensive data added to the site in the form of SEO (search engine optimization)

One drawback – the RETS data feed cannot be used by itself. It is XML (Extensible Markup Language) based, and there are various tools for working with RETS data.

Dependence on Each Other

If you want an MLS search feature on your website, RETS will provide you with data that is more precise and easier to work with, plus improve your MLS listing search ranking. Listings are downloaded in manageable segments, with only recently added listings being updated. This makes for more up-to-date information, giving more current listing data. Using the RETS framework, MLSs will give agencies the ability to provide more value to their clients.

RETS is another option in the implementation of IDX.


Chetu does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of a specific software, company or individual does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

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