|Why REALTOR.com Matters to REALTORS®|
For nearly a decade, REALTOR.com has helped REALTORS® thrive in the Internet age. Learn more about how REALTOR.com works and how it can enrich your real estate practice.
Facts about REALTOR.com
REALTOR.com, the dominant real estate site on the Internet:
- Attracts 5 to 6 million unique visits monthly — twice as many as its closest competitor;
- Accounts for 68 percent of all the time spent by viewers looking at all Internet real estate sites;
- Lists more than 2 million properties in the U.S. and Canada at any given time, making it the world's largest single source of homes for sale;
- Consistently ranks in the top 150 of all Web sites based on unique visitors;
- Has business relationships with AOL, MSN, and the Wall Street Journal (among others) that direct traffic to the site; and
- Hosts gateways for Cendant's ERA, Century 21, and Coldwell Banker franchises; as well as Prudential Real Estate, and RE/MAX.
Benefits to REALTORS®
Thousands of REALTORS® effectively incorporate REALTOR.com into their marketing, prospecting, selling, and service value propositions through such notable programs as Featured Agent(TM), Featured Homes(TM), listing enhancements including virtual tours, and personal web sites. REALTOR.com Marketing System products help members leverage their Web presence to market their clients' properties on-line and offline. With more than 70% of consumers searching online, REALTOR.com:
- Provides REALTORS® with the largest audience of consumers actively engaged in buying or selling residential real estate; and
- Makes it possible for REALTORS® to secure more listings, sell more homes and promote themselves to the largest qualified on-line audience of homebuyers and sellers in history.
History of REALTOR.com
In November 1996, the Board of Directors of the National Association of REALTORS® approved an agreement between the REALTORS® Information Network (RIN)—NAR’s wholly-owned subsidiary--and RealSelect, Inc. to take over the operations of NAR’s official Internet site, REALTOR.com. At the time, many business models were considered to finance the development of REALTOR.com. NAR’s Leadership Team decided against using dues dollars or asking for a special assessment of the membership to fund REALTOR.com. While Homestore and its investors have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build and operate REALTOR.com, no NAR funds or NAR member dues dollars have ever been used for the creation or operation of the site.
Helping REALTORS® Thrive in the Information Age
REALTOR.com was created to be an Internet site that would always be owned and controlled by REALTORS®, and it has helped thousands of REALTORS® thrive. Its success has:
- Protected members against business models intended to disintermediate them or force unfriendly tariff models upon the industry; and
- Provided a REALTOR®-friendly level playing field, as each member is afforded the same opportunity to decide how they want to use the site in their own Internet marketing strategy.
Key Provisions in the Operating Agreement
The operating agreement negotiated more than eight years ago contained a number of important provisions ensuring NAR’s control over the content and operations of the site. Those provisions remain in full force today and continue to guide the relationship between NAR and Homestore (NASDAQ: HOMS), which owns RealSelect.
1. The National Association of REALTORS® owns and controls REALTOR.com. NAR's subsidiary, RIN, also owns approximately 4% of Homestore's stock, and maintains two seats on the Real Select board, and one seat on the Homestore board. In addition to their fiduciary responsibilities to those entities, the NAR appointees also:
- Represent NAR and RIN’s interests in all matters pertaining to the agreement;
- Assure compliance with all agreements with RIN and NAR, and report any non-compliance or other concerns to the RIN board and through them, to the NAR Board of Directors; and
- Provide quarterly reports to the Leadership Team on all significant Homestore activities.
2. Basic real property ads on REALTOR.com, including the primary photo, are free to REALTORS®.
3. No “For Sale by Owner” properties may ever appear on REALTOR.com.
4. NAR remains the sole owner of the REALTOR.com site and trademark.
5. The use and presentation of property listings remain under the control of NAR. Homestore cannot market any property data or information derived from the data without NAR approval.
6. Advertising on REALTOR.com is strictly controlled. For example, no REALTOR® detailed listing will ever contain a banner from a competitor. Advertisers are limited on the amount of space they can occupy on the site at any given time.
7. NAR must approve changes to the design or text of the REALTOR.com home page.
8. Homestore must conduct all of its real estate related business in Real Select, where NAR has substantial control. Should Homestore ever be acquired by a real estate related entity, RIN has the ability to terminate its agreement for the operation of REALTOR.com.
Homestore operates REALTOR.com as a business. Its separation from NAR allows the company to make decisions that could potentially pose difficult problems for a trade association on business terms. These include the pricing of REALTOR.com products and services to REALTORS® and the development and marketing of new products and services.
Outlook for the Future
Homestore has survived the shake-out among dot com start-up companies and complete turnover in its management team. It has undergone major cost-cutting and restructuring to adjust to changing business realities. Certainly, its relationship with NAR has helped see it through challenging times and REALTOR.com has never lost its lead in the real estate space.
The two organizations have continued their relationship essentially unchanged because they both benefit. Homestore has access to the best brand in real estate and NAR has a vehicle to provide its members a strong presence on the Internet without incurring the cost or risk of operating REALTOR.com itself. Time and trials have tested the formula, and now it’s poised for new growth, profitability and service to REALTORS®, shareholders and consumers alike.
Our REALTOR.com Tool Kit offers additional information and resources to help you leverage the value of REALTOR.com.
You can also visit REALTOR.com and witness for yourself the value and benefits of the Internet's leading real estate transaction site.