Industry News search site gets a facelift

10-year-old site incorporates Microsoft mapping

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The Houston Association of Realtors has renovated its popular public property-search site to integrate Microsoft's Virtual Earth interactive mapping technology and to include other new features. The site, which draws an estimated 900,000 consumers each month, now allows property searches based on proximity to schools, hospitals, police stations and fire stations, as well as a range of business types such as restaurants and supermarkets, according to the announcement. While some Realtor associations that operate multiple listing services have chosen not to maintain a public-facing property-search site or not to actively promote their public search sites, HAR has invested heavily in the technology and marketing for its site, and has purchased billboard advertising to promote the site. Users can define a particular area to search in by drawing up boundaries on the online maps. Searches can also be defined by selecting options on drop-down menus. Colored "pushpins" on th...