Creative Commons License photo credit: Matthew Sylvester

This from Techcrunch today, in The British Are Coming Back Soon.

DotHomes, the UK-based real estate search engine which now covers the US, UK and South Africa, says it has doubled its number of nationwide real estate listings in the US, bringing its database up to two million residential properties for sale and rent. By contrast, Yahoo Real Estate, Roost, Trulia and Zillow (and others) get feeds from brokers and MLS services in the US. From a natural language search, DotHomes generates direct links to the original source of information – the listing agent/broker – by sending out Google-like spiders to crawl sites. But DotHomes reckons it is now neck and neck with Trulia. That’s good but it needs more marketing partners if it’s to become better known in the US. DotHomes is funded by three of Europe’s leading early-stage venture capital firms: The Accelerator Group; Arts Alliance; and Samos Investments.

The key line in there: “DotHomes reckons it is now neck and neck with Trulia.”

It’s an interesting statement, and one that sets up the natural response… By what reckoning?

Sheer numbers of listings should not the measure of a site’s success. Rather, it’s the quality of listings that is the better measure.

No sense touting the number of listings one has, if the majority (or even the minority) are expired, withdrawn or inaccurate.

Crawling listings seems to be a very clumsy way of getting an accurate representation of the true market of properties for sale, since many sites that are crawled are notoriously slow in updating their inventory. Broker feeds are perhaps a better way of capturing the market – but both Zillow, Trulia and Frontdoor suffer from some of the same inconsistencies when I’ve conducted a real estate search. I’ve stumbled on many homes that once I click through have somehow have become inactive.

Roost’s model of partnering with the local MLSes seems on the surface to be the best solution – being that the MLSes should have the most up-to-date data. But Roost too suffers by only having a patchwork of national coverage.

That leaves – the granddaddy of real estate search sites. And still the reigning champ on listings through their partnership with NAR. Too bad that their search experience is so muddied, that I still can’t figure out how to use it (though their Alpha site seems to hold some promise).

That said, kudos to DotHomes for their rapid growth since they launched in the US (see International Real Estate Search Site Makes a Move into US). Plus, I’m really digging the new look.

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