Believe it or not, there is another real estate site launching in the UK and it is called findsyou.com. Now the site doesnt just serve the property market it also serves a range of other markets and has a different business model.
i thought i would try the site out and when i went there i was a little confused as to what i should do. You are presented with a simple screen that really gives you two options - Buy (Seek - Want) and Sell (Supply - Provide). So far so good. So i click on buy to see what listings they have. The first thing i am asked to do is to "choose a category to post your wanted advertisement" - this has me intrigued and a little worried - what data are they collecting on me?
I decided to follow my nose, clicked on "property", "domestic property", "property for sale", i then selected "London", "Any Price Range", "3 rooms", and then, 7 pages in i am then asked to write an advertisement ... what the? So i then wrote an advertisement (ok it was really short) and then guess what ... i am now asked for my email address, name, phone number, postcode and so on ... like i am going to give them these details.
It appears that this site operates much as the same as many other lead generation sites in the US and Australia where they basically get your details and "wants" and then send them to a number of agents and they then get in touch with you. Now this is not a great service for the consumer who wants to browse properties and then decide to get in touch with an agent.
It was therefore interesting that i saw the article in Estate Agency Today that talked about 1,000 agents signing up for the service. I am not surprised by these numbers. I would sign up for free leads if i was an agent - especially if i didnt actually have to put my listings up. However, the reality is these sites dont generate anywhere near as many leads as the traditional portal sites where consumers can quickly and easily review properties for sale and let.
Part of the REA Group is a company called www.homeguru.com.au that operates a simlar (but simpler) model to findsyou.com. The business focused on the sell side and asked the simple question "how much is my house worth"? This is then used to generate leads that are passed onto agents. The challenge we found with this type of site was generating enough leads for the advertisers.
It is true that the site is innovative. However i am not sure that it truly understands consumer buying behaviour - in particular that consumers want to control the buying process and mainly want to decide when they contact an agent not the other way around.
Time will tell.