Real estate is a quickly changing industry. It depends on up-to-date data more so than nearly any other vertical, apart from maybe finance. As properties are sold, listings vanish in the blink of an eye. If a real estate agent or app has too many dead listings, customers will quickly grow impatient and move along.
Information technology has changed the real estate game in other unexpected ways as well. Online services like Craigslist and Padmapper have rendered the real estate agent increasingly obsolete. Those that remain in the business face numerous challenges. For one, there’s more pressure to stay competitive, while the list of daily duties continues to grow and grow.
Real estate APIs help to reduce your daily workload, automating as many tasks as possible while simultaneously ensuring your listings are automatically up-to-date and current. They also offer an opportunity for tech-savvy firms looking to take advantage of current technological capabilities and trends. You could use some of the best real estate APIs to build an app, for instance, as a way to advertise your real estate business.
Real estate APIs can even be used to power your website, to keep it fresh and current. This will help your search engine ranking, as well, meaning that real estate APIs can even improve your SEO.
There are a lot of real estate APIs out there, however. How should you know which ones will best serve your needs? To help you decide which real estate APIs you should focus your energy and attention on, we’ve compiled some of the best real estate APIs out there today.
The 6 Best Real Estate APIs
Data is the lifeblood of the real estate industry, which is one of the reasons real estate APIs are so popular and necessary. One of the questions that should be asked, when looking for the best real estate APIs, is “where are they getting their data from?”
As an example, consider the popular Zillow API. Zillow API extracts and consolidates from a number of different feeds. Zillow monitors their own site for listings marked ‘For Sale By Owner,’ for instance. They also consolidate listings added manually by real estate agents and brokers. They also add listings sent to them directly by various real estate companies.
Finally, Zillow mines real estate data from Multiple Listing Services, or MLS. MLS is a directory of available properties that can be monitored by different groups of real estate brokers. MLS’ are some of the most invaluable sources of real estate data that let developers take advantage of larger real estate providers. MLS is very common, as a result. Many of the best real estate APIs feature an MLS database.
Do keep in mind that most MLS are geared towards a North American audience. For those living in other parts of the world who want to integrate real estate APIs or data into your apps or websites, you do have some options.
Several European countries feature their own MLS’, including the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. In the Middle East, Bahrain and Israel both have MLS networks. In Asia, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam also feature real estate data networks.
If you’re developing a real estate app or website somewhere other than North America, you’ll want to do some research to find an MLS in your vicinity.
The 6 Best Real Estate APIs for Software Developers and Real Estate Professionals
Are you looking to build your own real estate app, product, or service? These real estate APIs are particularly useful for software developers, as well as real estate professionals looking to power their websites and digital assets.
Keep in mind, most of the real estate APIs in the API directories are focused on the United States and North America. There don’t seem to be a ton of non-American APIs out there. If you’re looking for European real estate data, there’s the ApartmentsApart API, which focuses on sharing apartment rental data from across Europe. If you’re looking to create a real estate app or website in Australia, Domain has recently opened its API to third-party developers.
1. Rets.ly Bridge API ($50/month)
Rets.ly is an API that lets your code interact with a wide array of MLS listings. Recently acquired by Zillow, Rest.ly works as a bridge between MLS databases and your app or website. The results are returned in a standardized RESTful API format.
Rets.ly makes it easy to license data for both data providers and software developers thanks to its standardized format.
2. SimplyRETS ($49 – $199/month)
Here’s another MSL API for developers and real estate agents looking for an easy, fast way to build an app or power your website. SimplyRETS is unique among real estate APIs in that it supports a number of programming languages.
Simply Rest Supports:
It then returns the results in a standardized RESTful format. This makes SimplyRETS useful for developers and real estate agents looking for a plug-and-play solution to integrate real estate data into your digital products.
3. Rets Rabbit ($150 – $699)
Rets Rabbit is a useful API if you’re looking to integrate multimedia data into your real estate products. It automates the importing of photos and listings from ListHub and REST. It then stores those images to its database or cloud servers. This makes it easy to connect your website or app via one REST API.
4. Estated ($199 – $999/month)
Estated is an API for any real estate professional looking for quick and easy property data lookup. Estated features an enormous dataset with over 140 million property listings. Each of those properties has over 150 individual data points. These are returned via a standard JSON format. Estated also automates mapping those data points into your app or website.
Estated is useful for real estate companies and brokers, app developers, and insurance professionals. Any industry that relies on knowing the history of a property can benefit from this powerful API. It’s not cheap, but if you’ve ever attempted to look up property data via a search engine knows that it’s worth it to have 150 data points in one place, at one time.
5. Zillow (free)
For those looking for a free real estate API that is still robust enough to be useful, Zillow’s for you. Zillow receives over 70% of online property searches. They share some of that data with real estate software developers and brokers to be used in a variety of ways.
We’ve already discussed Restly, Zillow’s commercial API. They offer a suite of free APIs for developers to take advantage of, as well.
GetDeepSearchResults is a free API that lets property developers look up property data, for free. It provides data like when a property was built; its dimensions; and the last time a property was sold, for instance.
GetDeepComps yields sale data for a particular property.
GetUpdatedPropertyDetails lets real estate companies, brokers, and app developers retrieve a list of all of the revisions to a property listing. This lets you see when a property’s been updated and lets you know what work’s been done.
6. Realtors Property Resource API (free)
Realtors Property Resource is another free real estate API for developers. It features a wide array of real estate data from all over the United States. Realtors Property Resource supports XML and SOAP requests, making it a useful resource for developers looking for an API that doesn’t just handle REST and JSON.
Other Ways To Incorporate An MLS Database Into Your Code
Real estate APIs are just one way you can incorporate real estate data into your digital properties. There are other ways to integrate MLS listings into your app or website directly. Another is the Internet Data Exchange, or IDX. IDX is sort of the grandfather of real estate APIs, so it’s particularly robust and well-supported. There are several methods you can use to implement IDX.
FTP protocol is a rather inefficient way to integrate IDX. FTP requires transferring large datasets and creating a local copy for queries.
Real Estate Transfer Protocol
The Real Estate Transfer Protocol is a more convenient method to integrate MLS data into your app or API. It offers a wide variety of open-source tools, which makes it convenient for developers looking for an out-of-the-box solution.
Third-Party Services and Plug-ins
There are a variety of plug-ins and widgets that let you integrate MLS data into your digital domain or website if that’s all you’re looking to do. There’s the WordPress IDX plug-in, which costs between $39 – $69/month with a $99 setup fee. IDX Broker is similar, and also costs between $39 and $69 month, with a $99 setup fee.
As you can see, not all sources of real estate data are free. It’s up to you to decide if you want to reinvent the wheel and work with more open-source APIs or if you’re looking for more of a plug-and-play solution, to get up and running in as little time and with as little effort as possible.
Considering how competitive the real estate market is, it seems unlikely the real estate API market is going to slow down anytime soon. Nor will the market for real estate apps, brokerages, or agents. It’s just a matter of staying streamlined and competitive if you hope to make it in the marketplace.
Real estate APIs help you to remain competitive and focused by removing all of the busy-work and making sure your digital tools are always up-to-date.