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Real estate search sites hit data control sore spot

Industry has mixed reaction to display of property listings

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The Propsmart.com Web site carries the slogan, "real estate search + community"; Trulia.com's logo includes the phrase "real estate search"; and Oodle.com is "the search engine for local classifieds." All three sites conduct automated searches for online real estate listings hosted at other Web sites, a technique known as crawling or "spidering," and then collect, reformat and republish parts of that gathered information at their own sites. In every case, these real estate search sites offer links back to the Web sites where the information originated. The sites are part of a growing effort to give consumers easier access to more real estate listings online while driving more consumer traffic to broker Web sites. The real estate industry, though, historically has been very guarded of its property listings and issues with ownership and control of real estate information remain unresolved. The National Association of Realtors is embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit with U.S. Justice Depart...