RealEstate.com, which is operated by LendingTree LLC, has announced a Web site redesign that is intended to enhance property searches, and also announced a new “warm transfer” lead-generation program that immediately connects online consumers with real estate agents via telephone.

RealEstate.com has real estate brokerage operations and also operates an online lead-generate business for a network of real estate agents.

The Direct Connect lead-generation program for the company’s agent network has expanded to Orlando, Houston and Chicago after a six-month pilot test in Phoenix, the company announced, and will continue to be available to agents in Phoenix.

Through the new program, a call center screens consumers who fill out an agent request form online and determine “the customer’s level of readiness for working with a real estate pro” before making a live introduction to an agent via telephone.

“Once transferred, the customer becomes an exclusive lead to that agent. The result is a higher-quality lead that saves time and hassle for both the consumer and the agent by eliminating the roadblock of telephone tag,” according to the announcement.

Kimberly Gorsuch-Bradbury, senior vice president and general manager of RealEstate.com, said consumers expect “near-instantaneous response. We’re becoming an instant gratification culture, and successful agents are always looking for new tools to help them meet that challenge.”

The company also announced a new Web design, based on several months of beta testing for a new property listings engine covering the Dallas/Fort Worth market, that will be rolling out on a national basis during the course of the year.

Forty new markets will be live by the end of the first quarter, with 35 more markets launching over the remainder of 2007, the company announced.

Search enhancements include:

  • Refined search, which allows users to customize search results by property type, price range, number of beds or baths, and square footage.

  • A listings counter that instantly tallies the number of existing-home and new-construction property matches as users enter home criteria.

  • Advanced mapping, powered by Ask.com, that allows users to zoom in for a street or aerial view of a home’s geographic location. And when users move the on-screen pointer over a property picture in the results column, the corresponding location on the map is highlighted.

  • A new property details page that describes home attributes, internal and external features, and school and community information.

LendingTree is part of Barry Diller’s IAC, which also owns or operates LendingTree Loans, LendingTree Settlement Services LLC, GetSmart, Domania and iNest Realty Inc., among other companies.

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