The competition to be the most popular real estate website is no longer a two-horse race. Property search and valuation site Zillow is now a contender for the top spot,

The competition to be the most popular real estate website is no longer a virtual two-horse race. Property search and valuation site Zillow is now a contender for the top spot, according to the latest rankings from Web metrics firm Experian Hitwise.

Yahoo Real Estate and Realtor.com, the official search portal for the National Association of Realtors, have been jockeying for the top position, trading places between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots seven times since August 2010.

For the fourth straight month, Yahoo Real Estate was the most visited real estate website in the country in October.

But last month, Zillow, which had held the No. 3 spot in the rankings since February, jumped to No.2, bumping Realtor.com to No. 3. The last time Zillow held the No. 2 spot was in April 2010.

Yahoo Real Estate captured 7.9 percent of visits in the real estate category in October, according to Hitwise. Zillow’s market share, which has been steadily increasing throughout the year, was 6.62 percent. Together, their market share was 14.52 percent in October, up from 10.79 percent in January.

Under the terms of an advertising alliance that went live in February, Zillow powers for-sale listings on Yahoo Real Estate and sells targeted ads to real estate agents and brokers that appear on both sites. 

Realtor.com’s market share was 6.53 percent last month, close behind Zillow’s market share. Trulia ranked fourth with 5.69 percent of visits, followed by Homes.com (2.72 percent), AOL Real Estate (2.13 percent),  MSN Real Estate (1.85 percent), and Rent.com (1.6 percent).

 ZipRealty (1.27 percent) and MyNew Place (1.17 percent) moved into the top 10, each climbing two spots to No. 9 and 10, respectively.

Hitwise reported that sites on its top 10 list captured 37.5 percent of traffic among all real estate category websites in October.

That compares with the 10.1 percent combined market share of the next 10 most popular sites: Apartment Guide (1.17 percent), FrontDoor Real Estate (1.16 percent), Apartments.com (1.14 percent), LoopNet (1.1 percent), Re/Max Real Estate (1.05 percent), Weichert.com (0.94 percent), Redfin (0.9 percent), HomeFinder (0.89 percent), Rentals.com (0.87 percent), and Listingbook Services (0.83 percent).

On average, users spent 8 minutes, 55 seconds on a visit to a real estate-related website in October, one second more than the month before.

Five websites entered the top 100 last month, three of them focused on senior living: Caring.com (33rd), www.rentsavers.com (58th), A Place for Mom (73rd), www.renttoowncentral.com (88th), and OurParents.com (96th).

Five sites left the top 100 in September, three focused on rent-to-own properties: www.rentalproperties411.com (128th), Searchrenttoownhomes.com (312th), Rent To Own (136th), OwnerWiz.com (104th), and www.echeapapartments.com (108th).

In addition to surpassing Realtor.com in market share, "zillow" was also the top search term last month, bumping "realtor.com" down to No. 2. Among the top 10 real estate search terms tracked by Hitwise in October, they were the only two search terms to account for more than 1 percent of search clicks (1.44 and 1.38 percent, respectively). Every other search term accounted for less than 1 percent of clicks.

The other popular search terms in the real estate category were "trulia," "realtor," "zillow.com," "remax," "real estate," "century 21," "homes for sale," and "har.com."

Fast-moving sites included Prudential Dinsmore Associates, Realtors, up 701 places to 865; The Metropolitan, up 641 places to 908; Bid4Assets, up 72 places to 112; www.oldcolony.com, up 242 places to 459; New Orleans Real Estate – Eric Bouler, up 879 places to 1,562; Brainerdhomesinc.com, up 717 places to 1,437; Lands of Oklahoma, up 173 places to 434; Certified Distressed Property Expert, up 191 places to 552; Rainbow Realty, up 499 places to 1,332; The Macerich Company, up 303 places to 900.

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