HGTV Launches Site Built Around Real Estate Listings

Housing prices are declining and foreclosure filings increasing, but that hasn’t scared Scripps Networks’ HGTV out of launching a Web site offering online real estate listings.

“People don’t quit getting married, having babies, downgrade to a smaller house. No matter how the markets react, people are always hungry for information. It’s a cyclical industry,” said Vikki Neil, VP, real estate, Scripps Networks Interactive.

She said the beta site, FrontDoor, will accept traditional national advertising, including online banners. Plans are in the works, she said, to roll out advertising packages in early 2008 to serve “broker and agent needs and their local community strongholds.” She declined to disclose specifics.

FrontDoor will go up against Realtor.com, the official site of the National Association of Realtors, and Zillow, a site that shows the estimated value of homes. Realtor.com, with more than 3 million listings, was the top ranked real estate site for the week ending Dec. 8, according to HitWise.

FrontDoor, on its Web site, acknowledged its rivals. “If you’re looking for lots of listings, great data and nice cartography, then those are all very useful things. But at FrontDoor, we’re willing to bet that what you’re really looking for is, well, a home,” reads a statement on the site’s About page. The site includes real estate advice for women, first-time and experienced buyers’ guides, and a seller’s guide.

FrontDoor launches with 1.2 million listings, largely the result of its partnerships with Realogy Corp., a real estate company whose properties include Century 21 and Coldwell Banker. Leading Real Estate Companies of the World also provides listings. Scripps’ Neil said FrontDoor is open to all brokers and agents, adding that there won’t be a charge for inclusion.

In addition to FrontDoor, Realogy has marketing agreements to distribute its property listings to Google, Trulia, and Yahoo, according to Mark Panus, a Realogy spokesman.

“We’re putting our listings where the consumers eyeballs are. The Web has changed consumer behavior; 80 percent of all homebuyers begin their search online,” Panus said, referring to National Association of Realtor statistics.

FrontDoor’s launch advertisers are Citibank, Coldwell Banker, and General Motors.

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