I receive calls and emails daily for a WordPress Real Estate plugin that will magically import data from a MLS database into a WordPress real estate website. That plugin does not exist and never will.
There are hundreds of local MLS Boards nationally. Each Board owns and maintains their own data and therefore all have different data fields and formats. So it would be necessary for a developer to develop not 1, but hundreds of plugins. Additionally, most MLS Boards constantly change their fields. So each of these plugins would have to be maintained to ensure service interruptions would not occur and the proper data was delivered to the end users. This would be a maintenance nightmare not unlike those experienced by Open Realty users.
Compliance and Policing Nightmare
In addition to the maintenance headaches, Local Boards and the National Association of REALTORS® would find it difficult if not impossible to police a WordPress Realty plugin for compliance. In addition to redistribution issues many local boards have, each have their own compliance rules and regulations. The Boards may require submissions of search templates for compliance reviews prior to displaying publicly. A prime example of this Metrolist in Denver. Violation of compliance rules and regulations for display of data can lead to fines as much as $1,000 per occurrence. Since the site owner can change template layouts on the fly so to speak, this could lead to costly compliance issues.
Many Local Boards have implemented security protocols to protect “their” data. Any so called WordPress Real Estate plugin that would import data for redistribution on a Broker/Agent site would need to store the data on servers used by the Broker or Agent’s website. Not all dedicated servers would meet the stringent security requirements of many Local Boards.
With these compliance and policing issues it is only reasonable to expect that NAR and the local boards to enact policies prohibiting such plugins in the not so distant future resulting in the loss of any time and money spent chasing this myth.
Misunderstood Plugin Functionality
There are a couple of WordPress plugins out there for real estate that are completely misunderstood when it comes to functionality. There is NO WP plugin that will import the MLS data directly into your real estate website. The process for the listings data to get into your website is as follows:
- Receive the MLS Data from the Local Board that owns it with its permission.
- Map the raw data to the fields within the WordPress plugins parameters.
- Follow all rules and regulations imposed by the Local Board and NAR when it comes to display and/or redistribution of MLS data.
I recently ran across a competitor that claims to have a WordPress Real Estate Plugin in beta. This competitor makes no mention of the fact that in order to use the plugin you must first be an IDX/RETS client of theirs. Is this deceptive advertising or an oversight? That is for you to decide.
Joomla and Drupal
Before I get slammed with anymore emails about a magic real estate plugin to import MLS data into a Joomla or Drupal website let me state that they do not exist for the same technical reasons as WordPress.
In addition to all the reasons above you should rethink any attempt to locate or use a WordPress Real Estate plugin. Those REALTORS® that have pursued the magic WP Real Estate Plugin Myth have wasted a great deal of time and money in addition to most likely breaking a few compliance rules along the way.
For the REALTORS® that have managed to use one of these plugins with some success after paying the vendor’s data mapping fees, constant maintenance fees, extra server storage and extra bandwidth fail to understand they end up with only part of a system and the search functionality is the simplest part of any IDX/RETS solution for MLS. The heart of any RETS/IDX solution is the CRM for lead management and is powered by the capabilities of the system to effectively capture and manage leads.
With all the years of training and experience dealing with FSBO vs. REALTOR® services you would think this article would NOT be necessary and that I was just “Preaching to the Choir” about “do-it-your-self” professional services however, the calls and emails for the WordPress Real Estate plugin just keep coming in.