We recently released a report on the state of real estate marketplace websites around the world. We looked at the prevalence of 6 user-friendly features to see which ones were the industry standard, which were conventional and which were still avant-garde.
The research saw us spend a lot of time looking at property websites - more than 650 of them from around the world. We quickly got to know what to look for on these portal sites and how to compare them.
Apart from the features we were focussing on, there were several other factors that we informally judged these portal sites on.
The following are ten portal sites from around the world that scored highly on our report and had something else going for them that got our attention as we trawled through all those real estate sites.
The interface of the Aussie challenger shows its users how many listings there are in the chosen area for each filter before the user has to click, load a new version of the pages on their browser and find out. It also shows a median price graphic for the area at the top of the results page and allows the user to toggle the search in surrounding suburbs.
If that wasn’t enough homely also lets users choose specific dates for property inspections and add the appointment to their calendar app. Neither of homely’s well-funded competitors has all of this same user-friendly functionality on their front end.
We also like the neighbourhood guides with user-generated content where users aren't afraid to give the honest answers to important questions that wouldn't appear on other portals.
It might be the understudy to its big blue rival, but there were a few things that made us prefer the experience on Realtor.com over the experience on Zillow, especially on desktop.
When you click on a listing you like the look of on Zillow’s desktop version it appears as a sort of pop-up over the results page. This just means that a lot of the valuable information around the locality and the features is condensed and relegated even further down the page. Realtor’s listings on desktops are laid out in a far less cluttered manner.
Realtor results pages also don’t default to an irritating half map view as they do on Zillow.
The Slovakian market-leading property portal may not look 10/10, but it scored higher on our report than a lot of other portals with much higher product development budgets.
We liked that it didn’t make us log in or hand over any personal information. We liked that it seems to be a portal that is actively trying to discourage dishonest agents. We liked that the call to action at the top of the screen is for the user to just start typing in whatever they want whether that be a certain location, category, type, price or whatever.
We also liked the legit-looking forum as well which, as opposed to most forums these days, looks like a place which genuinely useful advice rather than trolling and spam.
Honestly, we could have filled this list with only the portals operated by Argentinan classifieds company Navent. The only feature we studied that they’re missing is the pet-friendly filter in their Brazilian portals.
Its flagship Argentinian title Zonaprop is even highlighted in yellow on our big spreadsheet with an annotation that praises it for even having a filter for disabled-friendly homes - one of very few we saw that had the filter.
In terms of looks, the interface is not doing anything funky or trying to re-invent the wheel. It’s just a clean and uniform look that works.
We were pleasantly surprised by how easy to use Russian real estate portals were in general. We could just as easily have picked Domclick or the real estate portal run by Russian search engine Yandex.
We like the option Cyan gives its users to download a pdf report of particular listings and its visible control checks of certain agents, but what really swung it in favour of Cyan though were the translations of some of the filters
Any portal that automatically saves my search without me having to log in or make an account is already off to a nice start.
We also appreciated the fact that although it has a few ads floating around, it doesn’t prompt the user to disable their ad-blocker and the ultra-clean look on mobile (not trying to make anyone download the app is also a positive here).
ImmoScout24 also got in our good books for including an energy efficiency filter. We wanted to include this as a feature we studied in the main report but there are so few portals around the world that let their users filter by energy efficiency that we gave up on the idea.
The personal area behind the login is also cool and houses a lot of useful gadgets such as document management, a personalised area to make notes on listings, a messaging platform and a premium rental applicant service as well.
Another big name European portal. It scored highly and only missed out on full marks on the technicality that it does not have a pet-friendly filter (although it does have a keyword filter that users could use for the same purpose).
Unlike ImmoScout24 it doesn’t let users create an account via their Google account with one click, but once the user has made an account there are plenty of nice features under the bonnet.
There are some portals that try very hard to look sleek and minimalist. They show a bare minimum of information on a listing and a bare minimum of listings on a results page. FazWaz is not one of these and we like that.
The ultimate aim of a portal is to show you as much information as possible in the most efficient way possible for you to make a decision as effectively as possible.
A basic count reveals that FazWaz shows its users up to 24 pieces of information and gives them 4 ways to interact with each listing before even clicking on it.
The portal is also very hot on 360 tours and has a prominently displayed filter on its results page with a CTA and everything - the only portal we studied to do so.
The Dubai-headquartered firm makes the list because it has a surprising number of features that its local competitors do not.
The only one of the 6 features we studied that PropertyFinder does not have is the draw your own search tool which in the Emirati world of very clearly delineated neighbourhoods and residential projects is not such a drawback on UX.
By contrast, its competitor the established EMPG owned Bayut, does not provide its users with a lot of filters with which to search and the upstart challenger houza is yet to provide its users with a map view.
It’s true that the map draw feature is polygonal rather than a true draw, the colour of all of the letters is dull and blends into the background and the useful little symbols on listings in mobile are not there on desktop.
We don’t mind though. There are a wide selection of really useful filters on imobiliare.ro and apart from that, any portal that has the gumption to have a 0% commissions filter definitely has its users as their priority and deserves a spot on this list.