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Top Down Design Approach: My Broker Website

lostThis is the first in a series of articles about Broker/Agent Real Estate Websites.  Is your site still performing?  Is it time for a Redesign, a Refresh or a Do-Over? Have you checked the Moz Cast Lately?  It is a little unsteady right now.  I do have confidence that things will eventually even out and quality content delivered in a technically correct manner will prevail.

I have recently launched a new design, I will share my choices/decisions made through pre and post launch.  I will discuss Tools (moz, wc3 validator, firebug),  Servers (Dedicated, Cloud or Hosted)  and Feeds  (IDX, RETS, SQL) and CDNs.

Part I:  Listing Feeds IDX, RETS, SQL

Lets first define these terms…

Note:  My observations, definitions, experience is based on my local MLS in New England. Your terminology, available technology etc… may be completely different with your Regional MLS.

IDX  Internet Data Exchange   “Internet Data Exchange”.  Our “IDX” is a plain text file in CSV format that is available as part of our MLS Membership.  The file contains active listings and rentals. The CSV format permits a direct import into a database which can than be used by your web server to display. The available fields are limited by the governing MLS rules and regulations and the listings are restricted to active listings only.

If you have an IDX feed,  chances are a Vendor has provided a plugin which displays the IDX data and also a mechanism for updating/retrieving the IDX data.

Summary:  Broker/Agent Friendly, can be setup and maintained in-house with minimum technical intervention. Usually purchased as template which can personalized.

RETS and SQL With RETS access (SQL is still around, but think most use XML) you can reconstruct your entire MLS locally. All listing fields are available, off-market, sales price, original price etc…   A very powerful data set.

Summary: More complex, requires technical staff and most likely a dedicated server (adding cost) -but provides a powerful data set that is table stakes for competing against the major players.

My choice:  RETS

How does it work?

  • In 15 Minute Intervals the RETS XML Server is polled for updates
  • The Content from the update is inserted into a MySQL Listing Database
  • If there are New Listings, the Photos are also pulled and sorted into folders

In my application, a new listing is pulled within 15 mins of going “Live” and displayed on site.

In Part II, I’ll dive into  Server Selection & Setup.

About Mark Hankel

Mark is Software Developer, Licensed Real Estate Agent and Technical Consultant in the Boston area. Interests include Software, Real Estate, Triathlons, Reef Tanks and all things Apple. Looking to relocate to New England visit my website New England Premiere for homes and condos in and around Boston

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