Editor’s note: The following article also appears at the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog, written by Joel Burslem, who also is the social media manager of Inman News.
It seems like for much of the last year we have been so busy watching the U.S. market that we’ve been ignoring many of the moves being made overseas.
That’s starting to change. This was definitely one of the themes emerging from Real Estate Connect earlier this month. Whether it was Canadian investors swooping in on the glut of inventory in Phoenix, or Europeans pouncing on New York apartments or Florida condos, courting international buyers definitely was tops in a lot of people’s minds.
Mirroring this international buying trend, U.K. search site DotHomes (formerly Extate) has jumped across the pond to launch in the U.S. today. Not really a big surprise frankly; the British realty blog Renthusiast tipped us off to this move earlier last year.
DotHomes was founded a couple of years ago by Artemi Krymski and Douglas De Jager, two computer science students from Imperial College in London, and has to date been serving the U.K. and South African markets.
As real estate portals go, DotHomes has done some pretty innovative stuff. They were one of the first portals to adopt video (see Extate Launches Video Tours) — even going so far as to allow mobile MMS uploads of video tours to the site.
In August of last year, De Jager announced that they had received their first round of funding from The Accelerator Group (TAG), a venture capital group that has also backed the sites MoveMe.com and Agent Provocateur (at first, I thought was this was the best name ever for a real estate related site — turns out it’s a lingerie brand, which is also pretty cool and possibly NSFW). Presumably much of this funding was designed to help them with this launch into the U.S.
DotHomes hopes to differentiate itself in the U.S. by acting as a pure search play — and even goes so far as to call it itself the “Google of Real Estate.” Unlike Trulia or Zillow, it doesn’t source broker feeds directly, and unlike Roost, it doesn’t have any relationships with the MLSs (see Roost.com Kicks over the RE Search Cart). Rather it relies on its search spiders to seek out the listings wherever they reside on the Internet.
Obviously, there are two big problems with this approach. “Crawl” listings and you quickly run into quality and quantity issues. The latter because it’s near impossible to get complete market coverage, and the former because what you do find is often out of date or inaccurate. Nevermind that it has upset people in the past, too.
That said, DotHomes insists it’s going to have a go at it. It hopes to monetize the site through selling advertising for ancillary services (mortgage, insurance, etc.) around whatever listings it can find and pacifying the brokers by sending them some free traffic and not just selling them their listings back.
In any case, I suspect this won’t be the last of the international sites that decide to dip their toes into the U.S. market. Especially if it’s just a matter of cloning pre-existing technology and then tailoring the experience to suit the international buyer (kind of a throw-it-against-the-wall-see-if-it-sticks approach).
If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s that while the Internet may have not had much of an impact on local real estate yet, it’s definitely kicked the door down for international real estate.
If you haven’t already, watch this InmanTV episode and listen closely to what Simon Baker from realestate.com.au is saying — it’s a big, big world out there with lots and lots of buyers. Now’s the time to come up for air and take a look around.