MLS WordPress Plugin ~ Hopefully you will read this article before you agree to develop a website for a real estate client using a WordPress solution. At first glance there appears to be 100′s of awesome WP plugins to help when developing an MLS (multiple listing service) website. It’s only after you spend about 20 hours of research you realize you’ve been chasing a dragon. There is no such thing as a plugin that will retreive MLS data and import it to your site.
I stumbled across this (after all my research)
“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’s no simpler way to put it. MLS data is very heavily guarded. They can’t have their info splattered everywhere, in any format. They need to control it and more to the point; you have to pay for it.
So let’s start there. Your client needs to be part of the MLS club. They need to have an account number. With that, we can get access to the coveted data.
What seems to work is WP-Property in conjunction with WP-Importer. You can import/collect the data from a RETS server http://www.realtor.org/retsorg.nsf/pages/developerstart then from there you lay it out as you wish onto your site. The downside is, it’s not live. You’ll need to set up a little cron job to fetch the data as often as you need. But we’re selling homes, not hotcakes. So I think refreshing the data every hour would be fine.
One headache… or trust me, there’s more than one. The data comes back incomplete and in some cases, lumped together. For example, everything comes back as single family dwelling, so you have to manually set the listings to categories that you have assigned. Condo, high rise, townhome etc. You also have to set the, “sold” feature. It’s work, but if the client wants the design to be exactly the way they want it to be within budget, there are sacrifices. Unfortunately, this isn’t good news after you have signed on.
If you need absolute real time listings site where you don’t have to touch a thing, it’s best to leverage off of something like www.mlxchange.com. Use the client’s existing company and create an out of the box ready to use template.
Know your song well before you start singing. Do some in-depth research on the limitations of WordPress and MLS/IDX/RETS. Understand the pro’s and con’s. Most importantly, be involved as best you can with the design phase and the supporting documentation. But then again, no matter how involved you are, unless you know the beast that is MLS, agreeing to wireframes and outlines on a project, means nothing.