Real Estate Website Sources

published: February 5, 2015


Real Estate Web Sites displaying properties for sale have increased rapidly and are relying on listing information provided by Brokers. In order to provide a portal for a consumer to search listing data, a website needs to either get Brokers or an MLS to allow them access to their listing information, have users submit the information direct on their website, or obtain the information through a “3rd party” syndication company.

As a consumer, it is important to understand the different types of Real Estate Websites, the sources they gather their information from and what makes some better than others in order to protect your personal information.

Sources of Property Information

  1. Direct input by user – information is added, edited and deleted by individual users. Direct input by user websites often obtain additional information from syndication companies in order to “beaf up” their listing information. These types of websites have little to no security and are often used by scammers in order to commit fraud. Learn more about online real estate scams.
  2. Syndication – information sent out by an mls in a limited data set to a 3rd party syndicator under a specified contract, enabling the syndicator to distribute the information to additional 3rd party advertising sources.
  3. IDX – aka. Internet Data Exchange – this mls feed displays a condensed version of listing information for public display. Agents/Brokers have the ability to allow or remove a listing from this type of feed if they so choose.
  4. RETS –  aka Real Estate Transaction Standard – mls feed which provides detailed listing information available on all properties for public display.
  5. VOW – aka. Virtual Office Website –  provides all listing information to a broker including showing details, etc. This is the most complete set of listing information and the display of information to the public is allowed under certain rules.

Types of Real Estate Websites displaying Properties For Sale

Advertising Websites – a website that displays real estate property information but is not owned or operated by a licensed real estate company. The primary source of revenues and purpose of the site is to sell advertising to real estate professionals.

  • Syndication based Advertising Websites – a website that receives its real estate listing information from a 3rd party provider and displays such information on their website for the purpose of advertising.
    • The major issues with these types of websites is that the information goes out, however, it is difficult to automate the update of property information. There is no control over if a property has sold or not, etc. In order to allow for the ability to update listing information, the majority of syndication websites offer the ability for anyone to claim, add, edit information through user direct input.
  • RETS powered Advertising Websites – a website that displays real estate property information but is not owned or operated by a licensed real estate company. The primary source of revenues and purpose of the site is to sell advertising to real estate professionals.
    • It is rare that an MLS would allow an advertising portal the ability to receive a RETS data feed direct, however, you may find some websites that have obtained this feed. Some of the sites that are actively pursuing these feeds are companies like trulia and zillow. Read more about the Trulia/Zillow MLS partnerships.
    • – although some believe this site belongs under the Association type website, the domain is actually owned and operated by an advertising based company. Recently, this website was purchased by Newscorp, a Rupert Murdoch company. With help and support from the National Association of REALTORS, this website accumulated RETS data feeds from the majority of all MLS’s. NOTE: Although information on the website is accurate, unless a listing agent is paying, the listing agent will not receive any consumer contacts when you request information on a property.

Real Estate Association Websites – also known as real estate association portals. Association websites are owned/operated by membership based organizations such as a REALTOR Association website or an MLS consumer portal. The information on these websites is usually powered direct through a RETS or IDX data feed from the MLS.

Agent and Broker Websites – these websites are owned and operated by licensed real estate brokers or agents and powered by MLS data. Brokers have the option of which type of listing feed they want to receive and display, however, the majority of all agent and broker websites use an IDX feed for consumer view.

MLS Search Setup by an Agent – This is the best source of active real estate property information. It is the most accurate and complete collection of information on property listings. This search must be setup by an active member of the MLS who has the ability to search all fields in the system. This is often very useful in scenarios where you are searching for specific property features.