The Internet has become a significant transaction platform for the real estate industry. However, use of the Internet does not benefit homebuyers in terms of search time, flexibility, and intuitive results. While it does encourage buyers to search more intensively, and discover and visit more properties, it also wastes more time and energy. To improve the efficiency of real estate searches, we developed an online homebuyer's search program, based on an investigation of search behaviors, and implement a user-oriented recommendation system for real estate websites via a combination of case-based reasoning and an ontological structure. An ontological structure is employed to improve information management efficiency while case-based reasoning improves recommendation accuracy. A user test demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed system and validates the findings of this study. The limitations of the current study are also discussed for future research and applications. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.