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Difference Between IDX and MLS: What Are They and What Do They Mean?

Difference Between IDX and MLS

Real estate listings are a crucial aspect of the home-buying process, and for real estate professionals, having access to the right tools can make all the difference. MLS and IDX are two of the most valuable resources available to real estate agents and buyers alike. 

MLS or Multiple Listings Serice is a dedicated platform where real estate listings are kept and shared between licensed agents and brokers, while IDX is an online tool that allows buyers to view MLS listings through their agent’s website.

To get a more detailed insight into these super helpful tools, what they mean, and how they work, keep reading until the end of this article.

What is MLS?

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database real estate professionals use to share property information with other agents and brokers. It is a centralized and comprehensive source of real estate listings that provide valuable information about available properties for sale or lease. 

The main goal of MLS is to enable real estate professionals to collaborate and cooperate in selling properties and earning commissions.

How Does it Work?

MLS works by allowing real estate agents to list properties they have for sale or lease in the database. Other agents and brokers can then access this information through various channels, such as a dedicated MLS website or software integrated with their own real estate systems. 

This allows them to see detailed information about the property, including its location, features, price, and other relevant details.

What is IDX?

Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is a software that allows real estate agents and brokers to display property listings on their websites. It is a tool that provides homebuyers and sellers with up-to-date information about available properties. 

IDX is typically offered by third-party providers who collect and distribute property data from multiple MLSs across different regions.

How Does it Work?

IDX provides real estate agents and brokers with a feed of property data that they can integrate into their websites. This allows them to display up-to-date listings of properties for sale or lease on their own professional websites, along with detailed information about the properties. 

When a homebuyer or seller visits the website, they can search for properties based on specific criteria, such as location, price range, or property type. The search results will display a list of properties matching the criteria, photos, and other relevant information.

Differences Between IDX and MLS

IDX and MLS are both essential tools for real estate professionals and brokers, but there are some key differences between the two. Understanding these differences can help real estate professionals get the best out of these tools.

The main differences between IDX and MLS are:

  • Data Access

MLS provides real estate professionals with access to a comprehensive database of property listings within a specific region or area, while IDX provides access to a more limited database of listings from multiple MLSs across different regions.

  • Customization

IDX is more customizable than MLS, allowing real estate professionals to tailor their listings to their specific needs and branding, whereas MLS listings are typically standardized across the board.

  • Rules and Regulations

MLS is subject to more stringent rules and regulations than IDX, which can limit the types of information displayed on listings and the way that listings can be marketed.

How Do These Differences Affect Real Estate Agents and Homebuyers/Sellers?

The differences between IDX and MLS can affect both real estate professionals and homebuyers/sellers in several ways:

  • Listing Availability

Because IDX is a more limited database, it may not provide access to all the available listings in a particular area. MLS, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive database of listings.

  • Customization and Branding

IDX allows real estate professionals to customize their listings to match their branding and specific needs. MLS, on the other hand, provides standardized listings that can be more difficult to differentiate from competitors.

  • Information Availability

IDX may provide more detailed and varied information about listings than MLS due to its flexibility, whereas MLS may have more standardized and limited information available.

Some of the Popular IDX Providers

There are many IDX providers in the United States, each offering its unique features and benefits. Some of the largest and most well-known IDX providers include:

  1. CINC (Commissions Inc.)

CINC is a popular IDX provider that offers a suite of lead generation and management tools alongside their IDX service.

  1. IDX Broker

A leading provider of IDX services, offering a range of customizable tools and features for real estate agents and brokers.

  1. Diverse Solutions 

A popular IDX provider that offers a suite of marketing tools, including lead capture and email marketing.

  1. Real Geeks

A full-service real estate marketing platform that includes IDX, lead generation, and CRM tools.

These are just a few of the many IDX providers available to real estate professionals in the United States.

Should Real Estate Agents Use IDX?

IDX is an excellent tool for real estate agents and brokers as it provides a platform for showcasing multiple listings and allows for customization, enabling agents to better target their audience and stand out from competitors.

However, before deciding on using IDX, it is recommended to weigh all the Pros and Cons: 


  • IDX can help real estate agents expand their reach by allowing them to showcase listings from multiple MLSs, increasing their inventory.
  • It allows real estate agents to personalize their listings and better match their branding, setting them apart from competitors.
  • IDX can provide real estate agents with a wealth of data and analytics about their website visitors, helping them to better understand their target audience.


  • IDX can be costly for real estate agents, with fees varying depending on the provider and the level of service.
  • Some technical expertise may be required to set up and maintain an IDX, which may be challenging for some real estate agents.
  • IDX may not provide access to all available listings in a particular area, which could limit the options available to homebuyers/sellers.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the difference between IDX and MLS is essential for real estate professionals and consumers. IDX and MLS are tools real estate professionals use to display property listings, but they differ in scope and functionality. 

IDX is a type of real estate software that allows agents to display property listings on their websites. On the other hand, MLS is a database of property listings that only licensed real estate agents and brokers can access.

You can achieve your goals and succeed in this dynamic industry by leveraging the right tools and platforms.

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Last modified: April 7, 2023