Inman News reports this week that Houston Association of Realtors web site got a facelift.

Houston Association of Realtors

Funnily enough, as I was researching my post 10 Kick Ass Real Estate Search Sites, I’d gone over to HAR.com and noticed the new site and bookmarked it to check out later.

HAR’s site has all the characteristics of a kick ass search site. Polygon based map search tools. Deep filtering tools – you can even filter searchs by lot (near golf course) and by amenities (private pools, sprinkler systems etc.). Fast, responsive searches. Addresses even! Love it.

No wonder that Comscore rates it the #1 Web site for Houston Real Estate.

I think it’s a great step in the right direction for a local Realtor Association, and one I think many more should look at emulating.

Public facing web sites are a great way to rebuild consumer trust in the role of the Realtor. Let’s face it, the MLSes have what we consumers want. cough… all the listings… cough

It seems to me that the resurgence of the MLSes and MLS powered sites (see Roost.com Kicks over the RE Search Cart) could spell an end to the venture backed vertical search sites.

When they launched, Zillow and Trulia were forced to adopt broker feeds as a way to populate their database. But even as Zillow adds the rest of Realogy listings – it’s beginning to seem like a slow painful, and possibly ultimately futile, slog to go broker-by-broker to build a comprehensive online database of properties for sale.

Times have changed though. And if HAR’s approach catches on with others, it could put a real squeeze on the national players. As we’ve been told time and time again, all real estate is local. If the MLSes figure out local search – what role is there for national search?

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