What is the difference between municipalities and what does that mean to my IDX feed? Are listings in cities, villages, or townships? Hopefully this article will help you answer how to know your place.

how to know your place

How to Know Your Place

The government structure in the United States is divided into units from Federal to State to County and then to smaller entities. Parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska are the equivalents of counties in most of the United States. In the contiguous United States, a borough is within a county and is more similar to a village. The most obvious use of borough outside Alaska is that of the five boroughs that make up New York City. Each level of government is tasked with particular duties and rights. Generally the difference between nomenclature of locality is derived from population. That is to say that the name of where you live is probably based on how many people live there.


Cities are, well… cities. These are the most common urban areas where people live. Cities provide municipal services, like public safety, water, sewer, etc. There are different ruling structures for cities. Unlike some of the other designations, a city has a strictly defined area. Some cities are governed by a mayor, while others have a city council or commissioners.


Townships are smaller than cities and exist within more rural parts of counties. The government structure isn’t as elaborate as a city and usually has an elected board of leaders. A township can provide many services of a city, like road maintenance and waste collection, but do so with fewer taxes. Occasionally a township is also tasked with services like police and fire.


Often villages are synonymous with cities, although the population is generally less. Officially, a village is just a collection of buildings in a close geographical location. As small as a village is, a hamlet is simply an even smaller village. In some states a village is part of an incorporated town and serves more like a neighborhood. Some of these villages also have additional service responsibilities.

What Does This Mean for My IDX?

With the differences in how locations are defined throughout the United States, it can be confusing to try to keep track of each locale. If you can’t immediately find the properties that you are seeking, don’t give up. There are a couple of steps to make it easier to locate properties without a common city. First, some MLS feeds actually provide a search field for village or township. In New York, you can also find a field to search each borough. There are often even fields for areas or neighborhoods. Even if these fields don’t match the terminology that you expect, try one and see if it provides the correct options. In IDX Broker Platinum you can always change the name of the field to be more what you and your visitors expect. See about adding these fields to your search page by visiting this knowledgebase article.

If you can’t track down the proper search field, the city may be something different from the village or township name. Check with the MLS to see how the property has been labeled. Even if you know that a property should be in a specific village, the listing agent may have put it in the MLS under the city name.

Home Sweet Home

Wherever you call home, whether it be a borough, township, or large city, IDX Broker has you covered. We want to make sure that you are truly getting your search with more results. Hopefully these definitions will help you in your business and if you ever have any more questions, feel free to email us at help@idxbroker.com or call us.


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