As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of much of the innovation in Real Estate 2.0 that’s happened overseas – remember Igglo, for example? The
Norwegian Finnish site that allows people to bid on homes that aren’t even for sale (kind of a reverse Make Me Move price). Read Wikipedia article for more, if you’re interested.
It seems like for much of the last year we have been so busy watching the US market, 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 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, UK search site DotHomes (formerly Extate) has jumped across the pond to launch in the US 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 UK 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 which 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 US.
DotHomes hopes to differentiate itself in the US 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 MLSes (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 are often out of date or inaccurate. Nevermind that it has pissed people off 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 US market. Especially if it’s just a matter of cloning pre-existing technology and then tailoring the experience to suite 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 Inman TV 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.
For more on some of the other U.K. based property search engines check out:
- Extate Cranks Up the Heat
- Zoomf Aims to Help British Home Buyers
- OnOneMap Gives You More
- Nestoria Conquers Real Estate in Facebook
Also check out some other great International real estate blogs:
- the aforementioned Renthusiast
- theRatandMouse – London’s property blog
- Nubricks Overseas Property Investment Blog
- 4realz.net is skeptical.