Free IDX solution?

I met the guys from softRealty in Atlanta last week and they convinced me the have a pretty good thing going. Their plan is to offer a free IDX solution to agents that is ad supported. (They also offer a $30/month solution that is ad-free).

They’ve got two* one thing working against them:

  • My guess is that most agents will stay away from any solution that puts ads on their website

Like most IDX solutions, they’ve built the backend so that it can be framed into other agent sites. I’m not a fan of framed solutions, but the price is right, so it will be interesting to see if they get buzz as they roll out into markets beyond the Atlanta area…

* whoops!

[Update:  I notice I get a lot of traffic from folks looking for technology solutions to this post.   If you’re one of them, head over to my real estate technology tool shed where I’ve got lots of information that can get you up to speed quickly]

14 responses

  1. I can’t imagine many agents would be willing to risk losing visitors from their site over $30/mo. And I can’t imagine many agent’s sites would be able to generate enough traffic to generate close to $30/mo in advertising for softRealty.

  2. Ed,

    You hit on two points that mentioned to David in our conversation…

    He seemed to think that agents would get over the ads once they saw that they were all “non-competing” ads, but I wasn’t convinced… and I told them explicitly that there was no way there were going to make enough money off of ads to support a viable company. I know exactly how much big companies (the “home depots” of the world) are willing to pay per ad impression and there just isn’t enough viewers on agent IDX sites to make up the difference.

    Nonetheless, I like the guys and they seem technically sharp, so my guess is they’ll adjust things as they get more exposure in the marketplace.

  3. Full disclosure, I am affiliated with

    Let me first say that the number of advertising impressions will support a “viable company” based upon very realistic numbers (a single search can yield multiple impressions).

    Second, it is our belief that end user acceptance is based upon a number of factors other than the presence or absence of ads. The quality of search results, intuitive interface, and ability to modify search results without a page reload or navigation all contribute to a positive user experience.

    Finally, the key to successful Internet advertising is to place ads that are both relevant and unobtrusive. If the user experience is good and the ads are on target then it will be accepted in this market as it has in many others.

  4. Thanks Blake for reaching out. Obviously our chatter here on 4realz only carries so much weight. 🙂 If you guys are able to deliver the product and continuing growing the business, that’s all the proof that most of us need that you’ve found a great niche.

  5. Dustin,

    It was great meeting you at the conference last week. Since then, our April Fools’ Day Beta Launch was met with an overwhelmingly positive response in the Atlanta real estate community. We know that there is much to be understood with our revenue model and it will take some time to demonstrate its viability. It certainly does not make sense for us to prove that model now, in order to maintain our competitive strategy, legitimate or otherwise. We are confident that this model will best serve the interests of brokers, agents, MLSs, and consumers. Additionally, we are working on publishing an online community where agents and brokers can come together and collaborate on the design of our service. Ultimately, this is about bringing ownership of this design to the very users it will benefit. The requests we’ve already received include a “non framed” interface, Word Press Search Widgets, Search and Comments via RSS, and so much more. We are in the process of rolling our CRM back office piece called Client Connect. I look forward to continuing this conversation in the months to come and see your position shift from that of a skeptic to a full-fledged supporter.


    David Carroll

  6. David: I definitely look forward to it!

  7. I’m looking forward to it as well. I am one of the many agents that jumped at the opportunity. I also met the guys at RETS.

    I’ll be sure to write my impressions when the product is rolled out…

  8. My opinion is that starting an IDX company (old shool) mashed up an ad server (new school) is not a good long term bet.
    Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Thats my 2 cents.


  9. I think anything that adds a competitive spin to the current MLS and monopoly is good news for the industry. Costs are skyrocketing and other revenue models need to be pursued further.
    Rob Lawrence

  10. I’m not impressed with softrealty. I tested their product.

  11. I must say that in the research that I have done I think SoftRealty is not only one of the most visually attractive interfaces, but also from a programmers perspective it looks like they are doing very advanced stuff on their platform, and I am excited to see what comes next.

    At we provide free websites to agents, and we chose to add the IDX Search provided by SoftRealty to strengthen our offer.

    Comments are right though about the advertisements being a sticking point with some agents, however the vast majority of the ones I have spoken to are comfortable with it.

  12. I’m seeing comments about the idea that agents wouldn’t want a site that has advertising on it compared to the $30/month that they would pay. Surfing through literally 1000’s of real estate agent websites there are numerous examples of agents who will put Google AdSense on their websites to derive a modest $10, 20, $30 or more while providing listings and advertising their competition, so the idea that an agent would save the $30 and get a Free IDX feed isn’t that out there.

    Keep in mind that free is effectively the puppy dog close. Get your clients used to using the tools and then change the rules a year or two down the road. Now your client can’t leave you because he/she has too much of an investment in your platform.

  13. We just launched a free graphical idx search that is ad free –


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