Building a Real Estate Portal
December 22, 2004 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning to build a real estate portal site and/or do web work for real estate brokers (in the U.S.). This appears to involve tapping into the MLS IDX of listings for a given area. Can anyone point me to (or share) any good info on the way into this knowledge/market? (I understand web site design/servers, just want to know about the real estate IDX thingie.) Not a lot found via the Google-fu.
posted by spock to Work & Money (7 answers total)
I'm going to guess you have to be some kind of qualified member of the national association of realtors -- my understanding is that they're somewhat tight-fisted about handing their index over to just anyone and you end up signing lots of agreements over how you use it....

I'm totally guessing here, but since nobody else has said anything...
posted by weston at 9:08 AM on December 22, 2004

For my local MLS (Monmouth, NJ), there is a link right on the realtor-only MLS website about how to add IDX to your own site. It involves a (small) monthly fee, I think, and presumably they give you the code to integrate so that it shows up.

There is a more expensive option that gives you the raw data, and you can roll your own interface, but I know less about that. Not sure that answers your question....?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:23 AM on December 22, 2004

I worked for a commercial real estate listings company. There are several competing companies for commercial listings. For residential, MLS may be difficult to tap into. It appears to be for members use only. For example this site gives you MLS info, but not the address. When you go to a real estate agent's website, you can get address info.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2004

DO NOT do this. If you dig about you'll find that MLS sued the ass off, and won, a lawsuit against a company that was scraping the website for new listings. I believe it was Coldwell Banker, in fact, but I may be mis-remembering.

That said, if you wish to do this for personal use, it is all too easy to use Python and one of the many XML parsers to scrape the listings.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the input. I'm not even considering scraping. I'd like to work with a local broker to create the site and perhaps even consult with the local MLS to make it look better than it does right now. Currently, they are only using the frames option and it looks terrible. They need help.

My goal it to provide a site that offers more than just homes for sale.
posted by spock at 10:49 AM on December 22, 2004

Take a look at over's support forums. A number of folks over there have done IDX integrations with OR and can help you out.

MLS standards vary state to state...

In AZ, you need to hook up with a qualified realtor and grab data from a main location using ftp. From there, parsing it isn't too bad.
posted by ph00dz at 10:53 AM on December 22, 2004

Oye. Don't bother getting into this market. I do work for a company that does a lot of work with realtors, and they looked into this and it's far too much work for far too little return.
posted by SpecialK at 3:12 PM on December 22, 2004

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