Real estate brokerage powerhouse Realogy has partnered with technology company eNeighborhoods to create a national online real estate search site that will feature property information supplied by Realogy-affiliated brokers and information from brokers at other real estate companies.
The new search tool, expected to launch in summer 2008, will be powered by data-sharing agreements via multiple listing service Internet Data Exchange (IDX) rules between brokers in local markets across the country and will resemble a platform that eNeighborhoods built for RE/MAX International and its franchisees.
This new Realogy platform will allow consumers who visit national Web sites for the company’s brands — which include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby’s International Realty — to view all of the property listings shared by MLS members in market areas across the country.
Initially, Realogy’s IDX platform will include IDX property listings for about 150 MLS market areas, said Andy Woolley, vice president of enterprise services for eNeighborhoods, and the system could be expanded to cover hundreds of other MLS market areas, with a goal to cover every MLS in the nation. At launch, the system is expected to include most U.S. property listings. ENeighborhoods already operates a network of IDX Web sites that include about 3.5 million IDX listings from about 425 MLSs.
The RE/MAX IDX system has increased the online traffic to RE/MAX Web sites, Woolley said, and the combined online visitors to the planned Realogy platform and the existing RE/MAX national IDX platform could eclipse the volume of online traffic at Realtor.com, a National Association of Realtors-affiliated real estate search site operated by Move Inc.
“Collectively, the (unique visitors) will add up to if not exceed Realtor.com. That puts our search platform equivalent or on top of theirs,” Woolley said. Realogy has more than 9,000 affiliated and owned brokerage offices that cover nearly all MLS markets in the country.
According to IDX rules, property listings information must be hosted on the local brokerage company Web site of MLS participants, and the platform will be designed to provide a smooth transition from the national brand Web sites to local broker Web sites, Woolley said.
“To be compliant with the IDX rules, listings have to be hosted on the office’s Web site. You have to leave the national site. We make it as transparent as possible to the consumer,” he said, so that the property listings information at the local Web sites has “the same look and feel and functionality as the national site — you won’t notice anything different than the national site.” Brokers will continue to control content on local Web sites and acquire leads from online traffic pouring into their local sites from the national brand sites.
Craig Cuyar, chief information officer for the Realogy Franchise Group, said in a company announcement that all property listings in the Realogy platform “will be displayed in a consistent and clear format, regardless of the listing source. Visitors to our brand Web sites will be able to find all the local market information they are looking for faster and easier.”
Currently, the primary search tool in place for the Century21.com national site displays only those properties listed for sale by Century 21 offices, Woolley said, but the new platform will open that primary search up to include property listings information supplied by brokers for other, non-Realogy brokerage companies.
While Realogy does offer a tool called SearchRouter that gives consumers who visit Realogy’s national brand Web sites the option to search for properties listed by non-Realogy-affiliated brokers through IDX agreements, the new system will refine that search process, said Greg Robertson, vice president and general manager for eNeighborhoods.
“We’re looking to streamline that and make a more consistent experience for the consumer,” he said.
The RE/MAX national IDX platform, Robertson said, “represented a deflection point in the industry,” and many large real estate brokerage company brands still do not offer a similar search portal to access a national network of IDX property information shared by participating brokers, Robertson said. “This is a step in making that happen in this new world we have now.”
Realtor.com is among a list of real estate search sites not owned by a single brokerage company. Other popular online real estate search sites include RealtyTrac, HomeGain, Zillow, GoogleBase, Trulia and Cyberhomes, among others.