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The online real estate ‘arms race’

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SAN DIEGO -- Call it the real estate Web portal arms race. With consumers now expecting to see a comprehensive set of for-sale listings, agents, brokerages, multiple listing services and third-party aggregators are seeking to differentiate themselves from their competitors by pulling onto their Web sites anything and everything from the growing universe of information that might conceivably be connected with a home purchase. Public property records, foreclosure filings, sold listings data, comparative market analyses, Census data, demographics, psychographics, school ratings, "walkability" scores, crime stats -- it seems hardly a week goes by without a major real estate portal announcing it's adding to the arsenal of information at the beck and call of users. "Listings are almost so ubiquitous today, they are not a differentiator," said Sara Bonert,'s director of brokers services. Zillow has about 4 million listings, and it's become "pr...