FlexMLS Review and Comparison
FBS is one of a few vendors that provide the technology and platforms that many Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) run on. They provide the platform that Realtors and agents login to, enter information, search for information, etc. It is known to more real estate professionals as FlexMLS.
FBS is a small giant in the MLS world, offering many products including Flexmls, FBS Products, Smart Frame, IDX WordPress Plugin, and IDX “turn-key” websites. The company was founded in 1978 and calls Fargo, ND home. The company is 100% employee-owned.
While they make great products for MLSs to run on, their IDX and agent websites do not meet consumer expectations. There are some within the industry that claim that “real estate agents do not need a website”, and in our opinion from looking at the data from our 2021 IDX Report, that is because of IDX products like what is offered from FBS and FlexMLS.
FlexMLS Pros & Cons:
Many agents think all IDXs are the same, perform the same, and provide the same experience to consumers. This could not be further from the truth.
All IDXs will allow consumers to perform a home search on a real estate agent’s website and view information on specific listings. That is where the similarities end. Think about the different search experience on the free IDX offered from some MLSs compared to searching on Zillow. Which do you prefer? Which do you think agents consistently see clients using? That is not the case with all home searches though. Some actually outperform Zillow and help agents grow their business.
We reviewed 25,000+ agent websites and reviewed the online search history for 135,000 consumers comparing most IDX and home search options from Flexmls IDX to IDX Broker to Sierra Interactive to RealtyNA to Showcase IDX to Real Geeks, Real Estate Webmasters, Easy Agent Pro, IDX Broker, iHomefinder and others.
Below are our opinions on the Pros and Cons of Flexmls IDX from FBS, compared to other IDX and home search offerings:
- Market Stats Widget: Several home search options provide premium content on the area/region for individual listings (e.g. demographic information, commute information, education level, etc). While Flexmls IDX does not offer that, it does offer these neat market stats widgets that contain Sales Volume, Sales to List Ratio, Average Prices, Inventory, and Absorption Rate.
- Native MLS Content on Your Site: Their WordPress plugin does not use iFrames or subdomains, like IDX Broker and iHomefinder does. Note that the Flexmls Smartframe does use frames.
- Provide an offering for Wix and Squarespace: FBS offers an option to add the IDX to a non-WordPress site. While we would NEVER suggest an agent build a website on Wix or Squarespace from seeing the loss of qualified leads and inability to rank in organic search, we do understand that you may already have a website that you’re wanting to put a search on. They have an option for that.
- SEO: The Flexmls IDX does provide MLS content that looks native to Google and other search engines, but from our tests and opinion, it performs poorly in terms of search engine optimization. One of the reasons for this is the consumer experience feels dated and there is often a huge bounce rate for visitors. Google considers time on site, the number of pages visited per session, repeat visitors, and hundreds of other factors in their search rankings. While Flexmls IDX will not hurt your search rankings, it likely will have no positive impact either compared to other options.
- Lower retention of your clients: We compared Flexmls IDX, Showcase IDX, iHomeFinder, Diverse Solutions, and many other home search providers in our 2021 IDX Report and found that of the qualified leads going to a site powered by Flexmls IDX that only 30.5% stayed on the site. See the full details here.
- Price: Some reviews inaccurately claim that you can get the “WordPress plugin @ free of cost”. Yes, you can technically download the WP plugin but you have to have a license to the software to activate it. This could be an acceptable free offering from your MLS but given the price, we advise agents to invest in a more modern IDX and home search. We’ll cover price in detail below.
- Support: We’ve seen great things about the team at FBS and many good reviews. However, we’ve also seen a fair bit of negative reviews about the IDX. Searching for reviews can also be confusing because it’s often unclear if the person is discussing the MLS platform that the agent’s MLS runs on, the Flexmls IDX, or one of FBS’s many other products.
- Outdated Home Search Feel: The home search, listing pages, map views, etc. just feel outdated and old. While you will have a home search on your site, do not expect consumers to use it. “Feels like the backend MLS search. If not an agent, you wouldn’t know how to use it.”
- Flexmls IDX Competes with Website Developers: The parent company FBS offers Flexmls Spring Websites directly on their site alongside their IDX. When an agent does a demo or speaks to a support person, they may find out about the “turn-key websites”. While these sites, because they’re powered by the Flexmls IDX, may not meet the claims of “search-engine-optimized, all-in-one solution, beautifully branded to you”, a marketing agency or developer should be cautious of working with a technology provider that competes with them.
What makes Flexmls IDX unique?
It’s provided from the same company that provides MLS technology to many of the MLSs. If you’re an agent, the IDX will feel very similar to what you use on the backend of the MLS platform. They claim the data is “live” because there is no delay in the updates made to the listings made in the MLS. While this may be true as they provide the platform to some MLSs, any modern MLS or even Zillow/Trulia is updated quickly and this causes no issue for consumers.
Flexmls Smartframe (works with Wix, Squarespace, etc.): $349 / year
Flexmls IDX WordPress: $499 / year
Spring Agent Website: starts at $699 / year + $99 setup
Flexmls IDX Summary
No matter what feature you’re looking for, there are better options out there if you have a WordPress website. If you need to test it, send a Flexmls IDX website to a few past clients and ask them if they’d use it over Zillow. That will give your answer.
Want an IDX with higher consumer retention, better SEO, and that our test show is the only home search chosen over Zillow, consider Showcase IDX. It starts at $59.99 /month and outperforms every other stand-alone IDX.
Need help building your website? Talk to one of the Top 17 Real Estate Marketing Agencies in the United States. There are great options starting $75 – $250 per month for a complete website, and if you want to invest more, these are the best real estate marketers for the ROI (return on investment) in the country.