Cendant Corp. has entered into an alliance with a real estate information specialist to provide Internet services to the franchise offices of its real estate companies-Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA.
Those three companies already have Web sites, but no single site gathers together the listings of all their franchisees. RealSelect Inc., a real estate information company based in Westlake Village, Calif., would coordinate this effort.
RealSelect would also offer Internet Web site design, hosting services, maintenance, and support services to Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA franchise offices across the United States.
Under a five-year pact, RealSelect would put all the listings on a site it operates for the National Association of Realtors. That site has more than 1.25 million listings for existing and new homes, as well as a connection to real estate agents and brokers.
Cendant Mortgage and Cendant's executive relocation service may also benefit through cross-selling opportunities.
The Internet is both a selling tool and a buying tool under Cendant's "viewership strategy," said Richard A. Smith, chairman and chief executive of the company's real estate division. As a franchiser, Mr. Smith said, Cendant was looking for an "efficient and broad distribution of listings" to help the owners of its franchise offices expose their listings to as many prospective buyers as possible.
Cendant, based in Parsippany, N.J., sees getting on the Internet as analogous to expanding broadcasts beyond network television to cable and other outlets, Mr. Smith said.
The company said forming this alliance was the largest of several steps it would take to market its products and services on the Internet. Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA together have 330,000 electronic listings that will be distributed on-line by RealSelect, Cendant said.
Many of these listings are already available on the Web site operated by RealSelect, because of its relationships with multiple listing services, which provide franchises with listing data. But the alliance will ensure that all listings will be available.
Cendant will also be looking at other partners for Internet business, Mr. Smith noted.
"Our goal and strategy is to align with those people who have dominant market share with regard to viewership," he said.
Electronic links between Cendant Mortgage and Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA are expected within the next year, even though Cendant Mortgage, which is based in Mount Laurel, N.J., is getting more than enough business through private channels, Mr. Smith said.
The Internet offers a more efficient approach to the marketplace by helping to cut costs and improve margins, he said.
Cendant chose RealSelect because the company is "industry-friendly" and its Internet site has the most listings, with a majority of brokers, Mr. Smith said.
RealSelect and Cendant will have a "symbiotic relationship," said Michael Keller, vice president of marketing for the technology company. RealSelect uses a "classified advertising model" for business, he noted.
RealSelect also operates the Internet site of the National Association of Home Builders, a site focused on new homes and housing lots as well as builders and remodelers.