The Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) Board of Directors has taken the wraps off a redesigned beta-version of its HAR.com website, now branded as “Homes And REALTORS®.” The new site will allow the publication of property listings by brokerages across the state of Texas.
HAR is partnering with ListHub, the leading distributor of property listings and provider of performance metrics in real estate, operated by Move, Inc., to provide this new service. (Move, Inc. also operates REALTOR®.com under a licensing agreement with the National Association of REALTORS®.)
HAR.com has millions of visitors per month viewing listing detail pages 40 million times in March 2014. It also ranked second among all real estate websites in Texas in 2013, behind only Zillow.
HAR.com is a REALTOR®- and industry-friendly website that exists to connect home sellers, buyers and renters with REALTORS®. The HAR.com website is the best listing marketing platform that has proven success in delivering millions of leads and referrals to agents’ and brokers’ websites. Eleven regional pages will feature listings hosted by HAR.com. What is good for Texas REALTORS® is good for Houston REALTORS®.
The redesign of HAR.com and statewide expansion of property listings has been in development for the past year and is part of HAR’s ongoing commitment to provide the highest level of service to both the real estate consumer and the real estate professionals who work with them.
A link to the beta.har.com website will be posted on the front page of the current HAR.com site in the coming weeks. Once a sufficient amount of time to beta test the new site has passed, the beta.har.com site will become the new HAR.com.
A Few Highlights:
- HAR.com is not about MLS; it is strictly a consumer portal
- No FSBO listings allowed
- Shows broker and agent contacts
- All leads go to listing agent and broker
- No competitors on listing detail page
- No “estimates” on active listings
- Statewide listing data updated four times daily (HAR data updated every 15 minutes)
- REALTORS® with a listing included in Find a Pro (MLS may provide full roster)
- Complies with The Realty Alliance “Fair Display Guidelines” for Public Facing Websites
- Statewide mobile app is coming soon
Why is HAR.com going statewide?
We have decided to broaden our site to include residential property listings from the entire state mostly at the request of smaller markets that do not have the resources or experience to operate a viable real estate website. Brokers in some large markets also approached us about having their listings on our site. In fact, five of the major brokers in Austin already have their listings on HAR.com.
- Last February 2013, HAR.com had nine percent of the real estate traffic in Texas. Zillow had six percent. In February 2014, HAR.com still had nine percent in the state, but Zillow had 12 percent. It doubled in a year because it has statewide listing information, and HAR.com didn’t.
- A number of associations and MLSs discussed with HAR how we could work together and how they could get their listings on HAR.com, for example Corpus, Midland, Tyler and others.
With all of this in mind, it became a strategic goal of the HAR leadership to allow statewide listings on HAR.com.
The HAR Technology Advisory Group, which is made up 100 percent of REALTORS®, worked with the HAR staff to make it happen.
How does a current HAR member benefit from expanding the site statewide?
With HAR.com being marketed as a statewide real estate listing site, more consumers from across the state will visit the site and view your listings. More exposure potentially means more interest in your listings and more leads for your business. Also, the REALTOR® community is far stronger when we work together for the benefit of all.
Are my dues dollars going to fund the statewide effort?
Member dues money is not going to fund the statewide HAR.com site. The incremental cost of developing and maintaining the site is minimal, but that money is largely coming from non-dues revenue, such as existing advertising sales.
We have also had listings in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and beyond for many years. In fact, five of the largest brokers in Austin already have their listings displayed on HAR.com.
Isn’t this an odd time to be taking HAR.com across the state of Texas when some other MLSs are pulling out of listing distribution to third-party sites?
First, HAR is not a third-party site. It is owned and operated by a REALTOR® association and maintains strict guidelines about listing display. Actually, the concerns expressed by those entities that have stopped syndicating to third-party sites don’t apply to HAR.com. The site has no referral fees. It does not display competing advertisements (in fact, the site does not allow real estate agents, firms, franchises, etc. to advertise on the site at all.) There are no FSBOs allowed. HAR listings are updated every 15 minutes, and the statewide listings will be updated daily, with more frequent updates coming soon.
How successful has HAR.com been in Houston?
HAR.com launched in 1997 and has since become the most successful public MLS website in the country. In March 2014, HAR.com had more than 3 million unique visitors to the website or mobile apps. It is the only local site that regularly ranks among the top 20 real estate sites in the country, according to Experian Marketing Services. It has become a household name in the greater Houston area, so we hope to repeat that success across Texas.
Each of the big three national real estate sites has announced significant advertising buys for this year. How do you expect to compete with these well-funded sites?
First, we do not view ourselves as competitors with those sites. We have various working relationships with each of them in our home market. That being said, HAR.com was the number one real estate site for the entire state of Texas last year, and is the number one real estate site in Houston today.
Are you trying to “take over” the state?
No. We are not trying to take over any existing association or MLS. We are just offering the opportunity to REALTORS® across the state to benefit from our HAR.com marketing platform.
HAR.com is merely a consumer portal to promote property listings and connect consumers with REALTORS®.
Why are you doing this when there is a TAR consumer real estate site?
While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has a real estate listing site, it has not generated the amount of traffic that HAR.com has. The associations and MLSs from across the state asked us to help them garner more exposure for their listings, so that is what we are going to try to do. This is just another option for REALTORS® across the state to display their listings and generate more leads and business.