Realtor.com operator Move Inc. has begun syndicating listings and powering searches on AOL Real Estate and will coordinate sales of advertising to real estate brokers and agents on both sites.
But Realtor.com and AOL Real Estate won’t have identical listing content, and the collaboration between the two companies is taking place largely behind the scenes.
That’s because unlike MSN Real Estate — which serves up framed results of Realtor.com searches — AOL Real Estate is receiving a separate, smaller set of property listings from ListHub, the syndicator Move acquired last year.
Under the terms of an agreement announced in January, on Tuesday ListHub began delivering data on homes for sale, foreclosures, new homes, off-market homes and recently sold properties to AOL Real Estate.
AOL Real Estate is also employing Move’s search engine technology, which includes tools that enable users to refine searches using criteria like open houses, new listings and price reductions.
"With AOL, we are actually running our search engine on the AOL domain, which demonstrates it’s portable," said Realtor.com President Errol Samuelson. "This is the first time we’ve done that."
The new AOL Real Estate platform also delivers home valuations, expanded school and neighborhood content, and mapping by MapQuest.
The partnership with Move is "the first of a number of upcoming enhancements to AOL Real Estate that will make the site a singular destination where users can be both inspired and empowered in their search for a new home," the company said in a statement.
On the home page of AOL Real Estate, the search box is unbranded. After a search is conducted, a small "powered by Move" logo appears next to the search box.
Real estate brokers and agents who syndicate their listings to AOL through the ListHub syndication network will have the ability to purchase "showcase listing enhancements" from Move Inc., which include expanded agent and office information, up to 25 photos, full-motion videos, open-house alerts, banners and expanded property descriptions.
Half of the websites ranked by Experian Hitwise as being among the 10 most popular real estate destinations are now sharing listings with another site or collaborating on sales of advertising to real estate professionals.
Zillow and Yahoo Real Estate announced an alliance last year, in which targeted ads that real estate agents and brokers purchase from Zillow appear in property search results on both sites. But while Zillow manages a common set of for-sale listings for both sites, AOL Real Estate will receive listings from ListHub, not Realtor.com.
Realtor.com — thanks largely to its alliance with the National Association of Realtors — receives listings data directly from nearly every Realtor association and multiple listing service in the country. It’s the most comprehensive set of for-sale listings displayed on any property portal, making it one of the most popular real estate portals on the Internet.
Listings syndicators like ListHub, Point2 and Postlets serve as middlemen to third-party portals like Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo Real Estate, collecting listings from Realtor associations, MLSs, and sometimes brokerages and agents, feeding them to portals in a standardized format.
While the leading syndicators have built up large listings databases — ListHub says it’s receiving listings from more than 350 MLSs that handle more than 85 percent of U.S. listings — none is as comprehensive as Realtor.com’s.
Although the back end of both sites is identical, "in some respects the look and feel is quite different from Realtor.com," Samuelson said. "We can take identical data and render it in a different manner."
AOL Real Estate wanted the ability to show open houses scheduled for the upcoming weekend, for example, rather than having users choose a date parameter.
As a further example of the flexibility of the user interface, Samuelson noted that while Realtor.com uses Bing for mapping, AOL Real Estate wanted to stick with MapQuest, which is owned by AOL.
"All features, including overlays for schools, places of worship" and other local amenities "automatically transfer over to the MapQuest platform," Samuelson said.
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