HAR.com, the popular consumer-facing real estate search portal operated by the Houston Association of Realtors, has officially relaunched with listings from throughout the state of Texas.
Last year HAR.com announced that it had become the first multiple listing service to join syndicator ListHub’s Real Estate Network as a publisher. The move allowed any Texas MLS or broker to start displaying their listings on HAR.com, which at the time was the second most popular real estate site in the state, after Zillow, and the 19th most visited real estate site nationwide.
After nearly a year in beta testing, the association has flipped the switch on the new HAR.com, which has been rebranded as “Homes and Rentals” and includes more than 130,000 active, Realtor-represented for-sale and rental listings in 11 major markets and property tax information for more than 8.2 million homes throughout the state.
Unlike national third-party sites such as Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, HAR.com follows what are known as “Fair Display Guidelines” for public-facing MLS sites. This means that no featured listings or ads for other brokers or agents appear next to a brokerage’s listing, and all leads are sent to listing agents or brokers at no charge, among other stipulations. There is no cost to brokers to advertise their listings on the site.
Listing brokers will also receive traffic analytics for their listings telling them how many times their listings were viewed and how many leads each listing received.
“As a prominent provider of real estate listings for the past 18 years, the accuracy and integrity of the content on HAR.com is of utmost importance, and we know that our content is completely broker-authorized and MLS-accurate,” said HAR President and CEO Bob Hale in a statement.
“We have ‘supersized’ the outstanding features that the original HAR.com offered consumers and Realtors for the Greater Houston area, and now provide exposure to a much wider geography of listing inventory and real estate professionals.”
Early on, HAR emphasized that the new site would be governed by terms favorable to listing brokers, but would also do as third-party portals do and give consumers what they want: namely, property tax, school and neighborhood information.
The new site’s features include:
- “Drive Time” from INRIX, which allows users to enter any address, their desired drive time, and other search parameters such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms to produce a map of available property listings that fall within that drive time.
- Push notifications on GPS-enabled smartphones for new home listings and the ability to search for nearby open houses.
- “Texas School Finder,” which lets potential buyers shop for a home based on schools and districts, school ratings, rankings and test score statistics.
- “Neighborhood Finder,” which lets consumers search for properties based on neighborhoods, subdivisions, cities, counties or ZIP code.
The site was originally to be rebranded as “Homes and Realtors,” but the National Association of Realtors told HAR that if the Realtor name were used, the site needed to identify that it belonged to HAR, Hale told Inman.
But “we wanted it to be branded to all Texas Realtors,” he said, so the site was instead rebranded as “Homes and Rentals.” He estimates between 85 and 90 percent of listings on the site are for-sale homes.
ListHub launched the Real Estate Network in early 2012 to give brokerages and MLSs the option of sending listings to websites operated by franchisors, including Re/Max, Century 21 Real Estate, Coldwell Banker Real Estate and Realty Executives. Independent brokerage network Leading Real Estate Companies of the World joined REN as a publisher of listings this month.
Last year, ListHub added public-facing MLS portals and mobile apps as eligible REN publishers, but HAR.com remains the only MLS portal to sign up so far.
The site receives data from about 21 MLSs throughout Texas, including Dallas-based North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc. (NTREIS), as well as franchisors Realogy, Keller Williams and Re/Max of Texas.
HAR.com is not receiving listings from the Austin Board of Realtors because that association no longer uses ListHub as its syndicator. But the two associations are in discussions to figure out an alternative, Hale said. In the meantime, Hale estimates that more than half of Austin’s listings appear on HAR.com through franchisors.
“The ability to see practically all the listings in the state’s primary metro areas is a terrific bonus for sellers across Texas, who dramatically increase their audience,” said Re/Max of Texas Regional Vice President Dana Tuggle in a statement.
“And buyers searching for properties around the state can stay on the same familiar, user-friendly website developed by HAR, the model for real estate associations across the country.”
Any Texas Realtor can sign up for a free profile on the site. HAR.com automatically generates profiles for listing agents, but buyer’s agents must claim their profiles. HAR had hoped to automatically generate profiles for all Texas Realtors, but the Texas Association of Realtors declined to provide HAR with membership data it could use to populate the profiles. TAR operates a competing statewide site, TexasRealEstate.com.
In the past year, HAR.com’s ranking among real estate websites has slipped a bit, falling to No. 22 in November, and hasn’t rejoined the top 20 since, according to figures from Experian Marketing Services.
That drop could be attributable to a diversion of traffic to the HAR.com beta site, an Experian spokesman previously told Inman.
Now that HAR.com is officially out of beta, “hopefully we’ll get back to 20,” Hale said.
It may be a tough battle. HAR.com is now the third most popular real estate website in Texas, after Zillow and Trulia, according to Hale.
Still, HAR.com has a sizable following. Last month, Realtor listings were viewed on HAR.com 37 million times by consumers, according to internal HAR data. On average, the site gets about 3 million unique visitors a month.
HAR has a mobile app for its new site in the works, which is slated for launch in two or three weeks, Hale said.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note that HAR.com has more than 130,000 active, Realtor-represented for-sale and rental listings. A previous version of the story put that figure at more than 300,000.