The agreement provides that Microsoft will provides its Virtual Earth tools to Century21.com, ColdwellBanker.com, ColdwellBankerCommercial.com, ERA.com, SothebysRealty.com and the operating company Web sites of NRT Inc. NRT is a Cendant subsidiary.
Mapping tools have made huge inroads at real estate Web sites in the past year, most notably since the launch of the Google Maps platform in February 2005. Both Google Maps and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth mapping tools allow users to view aerial imagery and street names, and to find driving directions for addresses across the country.
Cendant’s Real Estate Services Division is scheduled to spin-off from Cendant as an independent company, called Realogy Corp., in June.
Richard A. Smith, chairman and CEO of Cendant’s Real Estate Services Division, said in a statement, “We believe this agreement will enable us to deliver the best mapping solutions in the real estate industry and that the Microsoft Virtual Earth functionality will enhance the overall consumer experience on our Web sites.”
“Nearly 600,000 active property listings from Cendant’s five real estate brands – Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby’s International Realty – including listings from NRT local operating companies, will benefit from this improved online mapping functionality,” according to the Cendant announcement.
Microsoft Virtual Earth tool powers the Windows Live Local online mapping site. The platform includes detailed bird’s eye imagery for some U.S. cities that allows users to zoom in at a 45-degree angle.
“We are delighted that Cendant’s Real Estate Services Division has chosen to integrate Virtual Earth’s mapping and location services into its online offerings,” said Stephen Lawler, general manager of the Virtual Earth Business Unit at Microsoft, in a statement.
“Virtual Earth’s capabilities are tailor-made for the real estate industry and it’s great to see Cendant pioneering efforts to make this available to its customers.”
There are an estimated 310,000 sales associates affiliated with the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby’s International Realty brand names.