After a quiet launch in February, Cendant Corp. this week publicly announced the creation of an online system that allows consumers to access a wide collection of for-sale property information through local real estate offices’ Web sites while seeking to supply new customers to its local offices and affiliates.
The SearchRouter system delivers consumers who visit Cendant Corp.’s national brand Web sites to participating local offices that are owned by the company or affiliated with the company, and consumers who visit these local offices’ Web sites can choose to scan properties from all brokers who participate in a shared listings agreement in those respective market areas. These Internet data exchange (IDX) agreements are a standard method for sharing property listings in many real estate markets across the country.
After starting a property search at one of the company’s national brand Web sites, consumers can click on a SearchRouter icon to view all multiple listing service properties in a local market that are shared through IDX agreements.
The Cendant announcement is the latest in a series of industry initiatives that are designed to give consumers greater ease in viewing a large collection of property listings online while also seeking to match these consumers with specific real estate companies and agents.
Some other major real estate companies are stepping up efforts to aggregate online property listings and to capture online real estate shoppers. Homestore, the company that operates home-search site Realtor.com, said this month that it is launching a new online advertising platform to help generate leads for real estate professionals, and major brokerage company RE/MAX International announced plans this month to pool real estate listings through a national IDX network and to deliver real estate consumer traffic to its local affiliate offices to stimulate the collection of more online leads.
The SearchRouter system is integrated with Cendant’s LeadRouter lead management system that launched in November, and is intended to drive more consumer traffic to local offices and generate more business for local agents. LeadRouter allows participating Cendant brokers and affiliates to manage online leads and deliver those leads to participating real estate agents in the form of telephone calls and e-mail messages.
“By capitalizing on the significant existing traffic to our brands’ Web sites, SearchRouter is increasing click-throughs to our affiliated brokers’ local Web sites,” Alex Perriello, president and CEO of the Cendant Real Estate Franchise Group, said in a statement. “Combined with our LeadRouter lead management system, the SearchRouter tool offers even greater potential for our affiliated real estate professionals to grow their businesses.”
According to the company, “SearchRouter makes it easy for consumers to go directly from the national brand Web site to a local broker’s Web site, thereby transforming the national brand Web site into a gateway to view all local listings.”
A consumer enters one of Cendant’s national brand Web sites, for example, selects a local market and views the brand property listings meeting their search criteria.
“Each applicable listing from a broker participating in SearchRouter features an icon directing consumers to ‘view all area listings.’ By clicking on the icon, the consumer is routed to an affiliated broker’s Web site to view all local listings in the search market via that individual broker’s existing IDX relationship within the local multiple listing service,” the company said.
Consumers who visit http://www.century21.com/, http://www.coldwellbanker.com/ or http://www.era.com/ can only view listings under each Web site’s brand, but when they click through to SearchRouter listings from a local office site they can view property listings from all companies participating in the local IDX network.
“We have chosen to maintain our national brand Web sites as the exclusive showcase for each brand’s listings,” Perriello stated. “If the consumer wants to see all available listings in a local marketplace, he or she can click through to our local brokers’ Web sites by using the SearchRouter feature, but our brand listings should always be positioned front and center to the consumer on our own Web sites.”
The Cendant Real Estate Franchise Group reported that the SearchRouter tool now serves about 200 markets and 1,300 residential real estate brokerage offices that cover more than 25 percent of the total U.S. ZIP codes, and is active in markets ranging from Seattle to Miami.
Perriello said, “Our brands’ value proposition includes helping our franchisees generate incremental new business. For consumers, we are committed to delivering the highest quality service and providing the best available resources to help guide them through the home buying and selling process. We feel that SearchRouter delivers on both counts.”
Displays of IDX property information are designed to conform “to all applicable MLS standards,” Cendant reported.
Mark Panus, a Cendant spokesman, said there is no financial commitment required for local offices to participate in the SearchRouter system. “All that is required on their part is to have their Webmaster go in and click the right boxes so that all of the (data) transfers happen seamlessly,” he said, and for office managers to make sure they are in compliance with local MLS rules.
Most of Cendant’s company-owned offices, operated under Cendant subsidiary NRT, are already onboard with the SearchRouter system, Panus said, though he said he could not provide a number for how many of the company’s franchise brand affiliate offices have signed up. “It’s growing everyday,” he said. There are about 300,000 real estate agents affiliated with Cendant’s Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby’s International brand names, or about 25 percent of all Realtors in the nation.
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