What are MLS, VOW, IDX, RETS, and how they can benefit your Real Estate business?

The modern level of technology allows businesses to create truly great solutions for their clients. The real Estate industry is moving pretty fast too, each day new standards (RETS) and integrations( IDX, VOW) appear to address the new needs, achieve a seamless user flow, and unite all the needed data.

These points especially have a big weight when it comes to the platforms that have listings and need this data to be stored and represented correctly.

In today’s article, we want to discuss these ‘golden standards’ and integrations for Real Estate Websites and why they are actually needed.

Table of Contents:

  1. MLS Integration – Multiple Listing Service
  2. RETS – Real Estate Transaction Standard
  3. IDX integration
  4. VOW – Virtual Office Websites

Let’s have a more detailed look. But before we begin, here are some materials you might also need:

1. MLS Integration – Multiple Listing Service

What is MLS? Anyone who ever looked to buy or sell a house/space probably came across the term ‘MLS’. It stands for Multiple Listing Service or Multiple Listing System and is a fundamental tool used in the Real Estate industry. Simply said it gathers clients selling the homes and clients that look forward to buying them.

The MLS is more than just a single system; it’s more like an ecosystem that stores information about homes for sale. Looking back through history you can say the simplistic version of MLS was born more than 100 years ago. It was a kind of ‘network’ where real estate brokers shared information about property listings for sale. This way they could find the buyers for each other’s properties available. 

Looking for a reliable vendor to implement your idea?

Contact AMgrade to get a free estimation and consultation now!
Drop us a line!

Now more than half of the people who are looking to buy a house use MLS websites to research the options. This number grows each day and that’s why:

  • MLS is a real time-saver for all sides of cooperation. MLS contains listings from multiple real estate brokers which means buyers can easily look through all the options and quickly settle with the perfect one. For the seller, it means that their buyer will appear more quickly.
  • Everyone values their time and convenience so MLS won its place fair and square.

Outlining, we started from MLS for a reason as this ecosystem contains all other integrations and services we’re going to talk about today. So it would be right to sort it out first. Let’s move forward.

2. RETS Real Estate Transaction Standard

With MLS gaining its popularity the new need appeared. The thing that was missing was a standard that would be designed to address decentralization in the real estate industry. That’s when RETS was born. It stands for Real Estate Transaction Standard and the name says it all. Instead of each MLS having its own processes, RETS provides a framework for data connections to MLS.

A RETS feed typically includes all active listings available on the MLS but standardized. Each listing consists of a property type, price, square footage, and other useful information. You can say RETS is the reason why all listings and IDX displays look pretty much the same everywhere.

Using the RETS feed for your website you can filter the properties that should be displayed and limit it by location for more relevant results.

Why is RETS so important?

Just imagine managing the listing platform when each MLS had its own data format. A crazy amount of extra work and just a huge inconvenience. RETS is a great solution to optimize the processes and make the overall process much more efficient. It provides guidelines for the way real estate listings are stored and transferred online simply so that it transforms the whole industry.

3. IDX integration

Simply said Internet Data Exchange (IDX) is a system that allows brokers/realtors to display on their website the most up-to-date information and property listings. Guided with one standard the data is always updated and relevant looking the same for everyone. 

The IDX itself originated in the times when the internet was in its relative infancy. Then every business opened new opportunities in it the same as realtors saw a good chance in promoting and sharing their listings online. At the time there were a few similar solutions but they were too pricey for most of the realtors to use. That’s why you can say IDX started the revolution of the industry.

Now, the whole process is so much easier and affordable. IDX provides a stable data connection between your Real Estate website and the MLS, and imports all available listings. All the data and listings are updated every hour so users can be sure of the property’s availability.

With technological progress, the importance of such standards is undeniable and the biggest players in the market adopting them just prove the point. To see implemented IDX integration in action consider looking through the 7 of the Best Real Estate Websites Examples.

Like every system that has a huge data load, IDX has strict rules. So picking this model or looking for a vendor to implement, be sure that they are competent in this question and will be able to bring your idea to life. We will not list the rules in the article just say they are focused on data protection. IDX integrations are regulated by The National Association of Realtors (NAR) so you can read more about the rules on their website here.

Despite some stringent rules regarding IDX, it certainly can offer a lot for the platforms. Now listing websites are really popular when it comes to finding the needed property in no time so implementing IDX integration correctly is a definite win in the long run.

Any questions as to integration?

Our certified experts will gladly help you to successfully perform this part of work!
Drop us a line!

4. VOW – Virtual Office Websites

Last but not least what we are going to discuss today – Virtual Office Websites (VOWs) simply said – is an enhanced version of IDX data. Little more expanded – ‘websites operated by MLS participant agents through which they establish relationships and work with clients’. Virtual Office Websites are actually not that different from the websites that brokers offer to consumers today. Yet there are only two significant differences – mandatory registration and more data fields.

The consumer has to register and agree to the terms of use in order to view and use data. Nobody – broker, consumer, or the website provider may redistribute any of the information to any third party.

VOW provides high-quality information, some markets allow a long list of available data like Sold Listings, Listing History, Tax Data, Price per Square Foot, and Days on the Market. But it’s not always like this so making registration and validation mandatory is one more data protection layer. 

And because of the constant evolution of Internet Data Exchange (IDX) and the quality of information offered to consumers through VOWs, consumers looking to buy a property will be less likely to spend much time on non-broker websites offering less listing information.

Virtual Office Websites are one of the most valuable tools a real estate professional can use today to provide the depth of information today’s real estate consumer is looking for.


Modern Real Estate platforms have to keep up with the constant data flow and its validation so systems to standardize the industry and make it more efficient was just a matter of time.

The future is now – so integrating IDX and VOW data together can be a very powerful tool for agents and brokers. It is a way to provide a more complete view of any given property listing, while also having more accurate data. Integrating VOW data into IDX property search allows for prospective clients to get access to exclusive, in-demand property information while enhancing user engagement and lead capture.

Yet to gain all the benefits it’s fundamental to start by understanding the industry and these solutions inside out and find a reliable partner to implement your vision.
We at AMgrade, specializes in IDX integration and Real Estate website development. So if you are looking for the right development partner, feel free to drop us a line and get a free consultation.

Looking for a reliable vendor to implement your idea?

Contact AMgrade to get a free estimation and consultation now!
Drop us a line!