A horde of news websites, including those operated by The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Arizona Republic and the Miami Herald, are set to adopt a listing search platform powered by Placester — a cash-rich startup that also provides websites to tens of thousands of real estate agents.

  • There's a good chance consumers who search properties on news sites will be using a platform powered by Placester.
  • That's thanks to Placester's acquisition of HomeFinder, which also owns a popular open house app.
  • The expansion of Placester's media network and its acquisition of HomeFinder mark the company's latest land grab in online real estate.

A horde of news websites, including those operated by The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Arizona Republic and the Miami Herald, are set to adopt a listing search platform powered by Placester — a cash-rich startup that also provides websites to tens of thousands of real estate agents.

The vast expansion of the Placester’s media network — which had already included the Hearst Corporation and newspapers covering all of Texas’s major metro areas — is a result of Placester’s acquisition of HomeFinder, a real estate search tool and app provider.

Placester to take over HomeFinder media contracts

Placester will take over HomeFinder’s multi-year contracts with Gannett Company, McClatchy Company and Tribune Publishing Company to power the real estate sections of 375 news sites owned by the three media giants.

Placester’s acquisition of HomeFinder also brings HomeFinder’s open house app, Open Home Pro, under Placester’s roof. Placester will make OpenHomePro, a sign-in app that helps agents collect and convert leads from open houses, available to agents through its app platform.

Courtesy of Placester

Courtesy of Placester

Open Home Pro was one of the first vendors to join Placester’s new Industry Partner program. The program puts the apps, data and services of partners at the fingertips of real estate agents who use Placester’s platform.

Stretching Placester’s footprint

The adoption of Placester’s platform by close to 400 more newspapers marks the startup’s latest land grab in online real estate. It stretches the company’s footprint in the media space closer to or beyond its dominant presence in the real estate agent website market, which has been bolstered by partnerships with Keller Williams Realty, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Re/Max Integra, the largest Re/Max sub-franchisor representing 30 percent of Re/Max broker-owners and sales professionals worldwide.

Placester, which has raised $50 million in funding, offers websites for as little as $5 a month to Realtors (thanks to its agreement with NAR), and $10 a month for non-Realtors. The websites provide IDX (Internet data exchange) search, mobile-friendly responsive design, lead capture features and blogging capabilities.

Agents can also pay for add-ons, including a customer relationship management system; drip marketing; online advertising through Google AdWords, Facebook and other channels; and coaching and support.

Placester has said that natural language search for listing search tools and web analytics that show how visitors interact with Placester sites are on its product roadmap. It’s also hinted that it’s working on a mobile app.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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