Hamburg, Germany-based luxury real estate franchisor Engel & Völkers, which has 34 affiliates and about 350 agents in the U.S., has signed a deal with Zillow to enhance its listings on the portal.

As part of the deal, Engel & Völkers listings on Zillow will feature the franchisor’s logo; no competing agent branding or advertising will show up on property detail pages; and lead forms will direct Zillow visitors exclusively to Engel & Völkers agents.

"A big advantage for us is the strong recognition of our brand globally, which means that our listings will be recognized by the many international buyers utilizing Zillow to research U.S. properties," said Charles Kim, communications manager for Engel & Völkers USA.

"Zillow‘s marketing program will help (Engel & Völkers’) U.S. agents reach tens of millions of home shoppers and sellers, and give them access to online marketing tools and listing distribution to the leading real estate network," said Greg Schwartz, chief revenue officer at Zillow.

Last week, Zillow announced that as of April 1 it will power the listings on HGTV’s Zillow already exclusively powers for-sale and for-rent listings on Yahoo Homes. The Zillow Real Estate Network —, Yahoo Homes, HotPads and RentJuice — attracted nearly 46 million unique visitors in January, a 45 percent increase from the same time a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Other real estate companies have paid to advertise their listings on the large portals. Pittsburgh-based Howard Hanna, for example — ranked by Real Trends as the fourth-largest brokerage by transaction sides in 2011 — said in February it would pay a seven-figure sum (between $1 million and $10 million) for special treatment of its listings on Trulia and Zillow.

Some have complained about advertisements and the accuracy of listings on third-party search portals that aren’t operated by brokerages or multiple listing services. But some of the biggest names in the business continue to enter into agreements that boost their visibility on third-party sites, which tend to attract more traffic than MLS- and broker-operated websites. 

In November 2011, Edina Realty, citing a desire to direct more traffic to its own website and an aversion to ads next to its listings on Trulia, announced that it would stop syndicating its listings to the portal. In May, the brokerage pulled its listings from for the same reasons.

Engel & Völkers, which has about 550 brokerages and 4,000 agents in 36 countries in high-end locations like Paris, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Rio de Janiero, has been laying the groundwork for a U.S. expansion.

In January, Engel & Völkers announced the addition of former Century 21 Real Estate CEO Tom Kunz, who will oversee the brand’s expansion in the western U.S. Currently, a majority of its affiliates are in Florida (about two-thirds) and there are a few boutique outlets in New York state in towns like Lake Placid and Locust Valley, and in Los Angeles and Newport Beach in California.

The franchisor has said it expects to add brokerage-affiliates in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in the coming months.

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