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Galen Ward took the wraps off ShackPrices today. I’ve had a chance to play with the site over the last few days and I’m impressed.

Upon first glance, ShackPrices resembles many of the other real estate search sites out there, including Trulia and Windermere’s PropertyPoint 3 (see Windermere’s Property Point hits a home run).

But digging deeper into the site, I began noticing many subtle UI choices that makes searching ShackPrices a much more pleasant experience (try adding and removing search criteria, for example).

Galen and his partner Doug Cole may be criticized for jumping into the search game late, but my guess is that they were taking their time to deliberately focus on refining the search experience. It shows.

Built around an AJAX framework, ShackPrices is definitely speedier than most sites. The design is nice and clean and very intuitive to use. I found myself moving through my property search with ease.

ShackPrices also also has a powerful algorithm at work behind the scenes. Like many other sites, when you pull up a single listing, ShackPrices shows you the property details – but where ShackPrices truly excels is the depth of secondary information it offers the consumer.

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With each listing, you can quickly access similar “Shacks”, recently sold “Shacks” and more neighborhood information (pulled from 43 places) under the Shack Information tab. Because its coded in AJAX, these tabs refresh almost immediately. Pick a another property and all the information changes again. This is one of my favorite features. It’s very slick.

It’s not entirely clear what ShackPrices’ business model is at the moment; whether they plan on going an advertising/media model like Trulia or Zillow, or if it’s just a ‘proof-of-concept’ and they plan on licensing the technology to brokers for use on their web sites. I suspect it’s probably the latter.

ShackPrices is currently limited to searches in Washington State.

More coverage:

John Cook – ShackPrices unveils speedy real estate search
Kevin Boer – Shackprices launches

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