Posts tagged: property portal
As more of us start our home-buying search online there is a growing need for sources of local information.
The last few years have given us instant access to objective information such as sold house prices, bus routes, school catchment boundaries and distances from shops, restaurants and train stations, but we now have an appetite to digest the subjective information online as well.
Not only do we want to know the house prices trends for the area and what our target property sold for last time around but we want to get a feel for the area itself, and we want to hear it from people who live there.
Internet people call this ‘user generated content’ and it means that we write for each other. No more do we consult the a restaurant guidebook written by a professional critic but we ‘Google’ the restaurant and read reviews written by other diners. Word of mouth moves online.
The same applies to local area knowledge. We want to read what residents are saying about an area to put some depth and colour behind those dull statistics. Yes there may be 12 restaurants within a 10 minute walk – but are they any good? Has the map eaten there? The software? Perhaps the website dropped in for a coffee and croissant? I don’t think so.
The merging of mobile phones with personal computers has really put the ‘location’ into location-based search. Rather than typing a postcode into your office based computer you can, in theory, use an ‘app’ on your phone that already knows your exact location – and provides information relevant to it. You can be standing outside a flat you’re about to view and access the Ofcom score of the local school or read what residents think of the local library.
Property websites have recently woken up to the power of localised information, not only because house-hunters are demanding more access to it, but because the internet’s Chief Whip Google demands it.
In Google’s quest for localization, the search engine has started giving precedence in search results to websites that show that they have local relevance to queries. This means a search for ‘Hotels in Glasgow’ is less likely to return a list of national hotel booking websites and more likely to return a list of actual hotels in Glasgow, represented by the business’ own website.
Likewise a search for ‘houses for sale in Brighton’ may, in the future, be more likely to reveal the websites of estate agents in Brighton than a national property portal website.
To stay relevant and retain the enormous footfall they (we) receive from property-related search queries, property portals are developing local strategies online. In Rightmove’s case by developing a place to share local knowledge and reviews: Rightmove Places. Zoopla were ahead of this game with their AskMe! feature where you can ask and answer location-related questions and their recent acquisition of houseprices.co.uk will allow them to give customers access to sold house price data from the Land Registry should they so wish. Personally I could never buy a house without knowing how much the previous owner paid for it.
The property search engine Nestoria has a number of data sources that add flavour to the home search, if not colour – giving census information, healthcare facilities, house price trends, post office locations and other hard facts.
Findaproperty.com have a ‘how far is this from…’ tool allowing you to measure the distance of certain services from a given property.
For property portals serious about catering for the needs of their users, location based information services are more than a nice-to-have feature and not only adds to the experience of the online home-hunter – allowing them to do more of their research in one place – but will attract more home-hunters to the website by capturing more of the home-hunt research queries made in search engines.
For those without the time to do their own research, a new service called Check The Area uses a nationwide network of retired police officers ‘each tasked with using their local knowledge and investigative skills to research your potential new neighbourhood’. The service starts at £150 for their bronze package.
Their website claims that ‘ a bad neighbourhood can knock up to £30,000 off the value of your property’. Friends of mine recently pulled out of purchasing a flat at the 11th hour when they discovered, quite by accident, that the flat above was owned by a charity that re-homed ex-prisoners and recovering drug addicts. This flat shared an entrance and, stairway and hall and being in their early 60s and planning to retire to this flat my friends didn’t feel safe and backed out of the sale. Had they commissioned an area search earlier they could have made a significant saving in abortive solicitors’ fees.
If your budget will stretch to it, using a property buying agent can also reveal more about an area than you might have time to find out yourself. The Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents could be a good place to start looking for one.
Online forums can also be a great place to get an inside view on an area – many hyper-local forums serving just a postcode or a whole town can reveal what residents are talking about whether it be crime or the local library.
If you know of any good online resources for local knowledge and house hunting research feel free to add them in the comments below.
(The hand-drawn map image in this post is used courtesy of Danny McL.)
The Big Property List has been quietly online for some time and although the blog has been running for over a year (and has become quite popular) we only opened up the main property portal a few weeks ago.
The initial feedback and response has been good and people are using the site to find properties for sale and to rent in their area.
We are also seeing a suprising number of enquiries being send to Vendors to request viewings – especially given the recent press about fears for the housing market.
Why not look to find out what properties are on the market in your area?
Press Release 11 August 2010 – revised version
LAUNCH OF THE BIG PROPERTY LIST SEES THE UK’S ONLINE PROPERTY REVOLUTION MOVE ON – BIG TIME
The Big Property List (www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk), a new, free-to-use property portal, has been launched, laying down the gauntlet to everyone in the business of buying, selling and renting property in the UK.
The Big Property List displays details of available property, which have been publicly listed on Google Maps the UK, in a familiar portal style, tackling head-on the critics that suggest that users and those looking for property do not like property displayed in a map format.
In June the search engine announced that users were able to search for properties on Google Maps. This announcement led to intense public debate in the property industry about the future of UK property portals such as Primelocation and Rightmove.
Many industry commentators and property portals have dismissed the threat posed by Google, saying that house hunters don’t want to search for property using the Google map view but prefer a list format. The Big Property List addresses this by presenting the information in a familiar listing design.
The Big Property List offers what everyone hunting or selling property wants – a nationwide listing service to match Rightmove, which is free to use by agents. It gives agents, home seekers and sellers on a budget, a no-cost, no frills, nationwide shop-window.
The Big Property List’s managing director, James Cole, says: “Any agent can send property details for free to Google Maps, and if they choose to syndicate this information then this will appear – for free – on The Big Property List.
He adds: “Estate agents fork out millions of pounds a year to advertise on nationwide sites. There will be no reason to do this anymore, with thebigpropertylist.co.uk providing a similar service, in a familiar style, for free.”
“At thebigpropertylist.co.uk we do not have to justify how we have to charge the fees normally paid by estate agents to a portal, allowing us to focus totally on what the consumer wants. If we help people find the property they want, this results in better quality enquiries for estate agents. So what benefits the consumer benefits the agent.”
Notes for editors:
· The Big Property List is an independent business and NOT a Google product or service.
· The Big Property List uses the Google Base API to display details of properties which have been publicly listed on Google Maps.
· Anyone choosing to list their property details on Google Maps can choose whether or not to syndicate this data.
· If a user chooses not to syndicate the data, the information regarding their property WILL NOT appear on The Big Property List. Submitting a listing to Google does not mean it will necessarily appear on any other website.
For further information please contact:
James Cole, The Big Property List +44 (0)7551 237 085 email@example.com www.thebigpropertylist.co.uk
Andrew Barber, Revolution Public Relations +44 (0)7989 553 903 firstname.lastname@example.org www.revolution-pr.co.uk
In my last article I commented that commercial property portals were a poor relative of their residential property family. However, I would like to clarify that the reason for this is not necessarily the portals themselves, more the fundamentals of economics – supply and demand.
The principle users of these portals are surveyors, many of whom still make great use of traditional networking and are well connected within their respective market places. There is little need for these professionals to view the interactive capabilities of a property on a website when they will frequently be aware of the property having spoken to the agent in the past or attended a property launch there to know of the offering available. In addition the key information on the deals that are on offer will come from communications with the agent marketing the property as the factors that influence such a deal are many and subject to complex negotiations.
Many commercial property deals are done “off market” and no amount of property portal advertising will change this. However, the important point and lesson is with the next generation. There is a growing feeling that the use of the internet in commercial property is improving as that younger generation, who have been exposed to and grown up with the internet, move up to the higher echelons of property companies. As this demand for new technology develops, it is thought that the complexity of that on offer will be also improve and the pricing which is also seen by some as a barrier, will reduce accordingly.
One such example is the laser scanning of buildings in 3D. Such technology allows a fully interactive, virtual, three dimensional property to be explored by the user at will. The detail and level of accuracy is remarkable. However the costs are currently prohibitive and the memory required makes website hosting a near impossible nightmare.
With the possibility of technology that can truly add value to property marketing its adoption by property professionals will improve and this is also true of the use of social media. It is thought that the two go largely hand in hand.
There is nothing wrong with the traditional methods of property transactions but you are either part of the revolution or against it. Those companies and surveyors who do not engage with the new IT platforms could well find themselves left behind by it. The Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook world is here to stay and intelligent use of these mediums could prove highly lucrative in the future. Commercial property will never be at the cutting edge of technology but it cannot avoid the technological developments and those who embrace the potential will reap the rewards.
Author Biography: Tim Denny is a regular contributor to The Inside Edge. He is currently a Commercial Property Asset Manager for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and has an extensive background in commercial property.
LinkedIn – Tim Denny
Twitter – @tim_denny