Despite a faltering property market, the market for UK based real estate search sites seems as resilient as ever.
In addition to propertyfinder.com, HotProperty.co.uk, Nestoria, Zoomf, DOTHOMES and perrenial top dog Rightmove, you’ve got new(ish) entries like Globrix.com, a site that was launched in January 2008 and is backed by Rupert Murdoch’s News International (a subsidiary of News Corporation, better known on these shores as the owner of FOXNews).
Globrix is clean, intuitive and Roost-like in its speed and simplicity. It also sports one of the simpliest landing pages I’ve seen – an approach that seems to have been eshewed by many of Globrix’s US counterparts. REALTOR.com, Zillow, Trulia seem bent on loading as much information as possible on to their home pages, and end up just overwhelming me.
Unlike Roost however, who introduced new filtering “blades” recently in order to clean up their search results (see Roost Redesigns Search Results), Globrix has managed to keep its search results pages tidy with a nice use of tabs and filter windows along the left column.
One nice touch is the price sliders at the top of the results page, which graphically represent the volume of homes for sale in any given market (a search of my former haunt Leatherhead shows that the bulk of the listings fall in the £300K range, for example). Makes it easy to see instantly how many listings fall into your price range and moreover, where the average list price for the area falls.
Globrix sources its listings from agents and brokers and sends the traffic directly to them if a consumer wants more information, with no intermediary “property detail” pages. It’s a convenient relationship but one that means that the results on Globrix are pretty bare bones. The experience for the consumer is restrained, and it would be nice, for example, to see more than one photo of the property on the site.
That said, it should be noted that Globrix is a pure search play (no blogs, community, q&a and other fancy features to clutter up the site) and their business model, like that of Google, is simply selling premium advertising placement around the results.
The hope is that through their own marketing efforts (it has a “significant multiple million pound budget to spend on marketing the site to consumers” this year) they can significantly grow the site’s brand awareness amongst UK buyers (and resulting traffic) and command top-tier advertising rates.
Presumably it will leverage its major media connections (like Frontdoor has) at some point too to help drive that awareness. In fact, that seems to be the case as Times Online recently dumped Propertyfinder in favor of Globrix.
One has to wonder too, as these big media corporations world wide begin to leverage more of their assets to build high-concept online real estate search tools, whether we’ll see more of that happening (or perhaps even some acquisitions) here.