It seems that no self-respecting modern-day property portal company in a mature market would be without some sort of index, report or other use of data to draw in users and generate headlines.
Earlier this month I wrote about the British property portal website OnTheMarket's imminent launch of its Property Sentiment Index which will survey the site's users to generate insights into the British property market.
This got us thinking about how real estate marketplace companies use data in their content. So instead of this month's Best (and Worst) of Portal Content column, we analysed the use of data in the content of 25 property portals from around the world.
We found that the most common type of data that property portals use to generate content is, unsurprisingly, price data which is much easier to collect, standardise, analyse and present than most other types of data.
These real estate marketplace websites are the obvious destinations for consumers to come for their informational needs around housing market prices and they naturally have an abundance of this data with which to satisfy that user intent.
Another type of data that we found to be a common basis for content among property portal companies was information around listings volumes.
In many cases, the precise number of listings is not given but used as a relative indicator to show the change over time - no need to let your rivals know how many listings you have unless you absolutely have to.
Less common, but usually very interesting is the use of behavioural data related to how the portal's users have been searching on the website.
Showing, for example, your agent customers, what your portal's users have been searching for and how this demand has changed over time is a win-win situation whereby you look like the good guy and your customers focus on the type of inventory that's most popular among your users.
The least common type of data - perhaps because portals don't just automatically collect it - is opinion data. Typically collected via a survey of users on the portal's website there are only a handful of portal companies that collect this type of data and produce regular content around it.
OnTheMarket knows this and has deliberately gone down the sentiment via survey route to differentiate itself from market competitors Rightmove and Zoopla which both use proprietary house price and listings data.
There are several different formats that portal companies use to display the content they make with their data depending on their resources and goals for that content.
The classic format is the easily shareable blog report which makes use of the almost ubiquitous property portal blog section to convey the findings from the data. Australia’s REA Group has the best example of a well-constructed blog post around its data with just the right amount of expert commentary.
Often these blog posts are accompanied by a downloadable PDF document that goes into more detail. The PDF adds a certain level of legitimacy - journalists are much more likely to want to cover the release of a report than the release of a new blog post.
Some portal companies, such as Zoopla, put their PDF reports behind a sign-up gate but the majority of portal PDFs we came across - like Daft.ie’s excellent quarterly report - do not.
Some portals have areas of their sites dedicated to showing all the data they collect distilled in real time for their users.
The Spanish portals idealista and fotocasa are good examples here. While idealista shows all the information on a map on the main page of its data section, fotocasa has broken their information out into individual regions - presumably hoping to rank them on Google.
Recently, some portals have started producing video content to convey and analyse the information that their data shows.
While French market leader SeLoger has opted for the basic infographic video to accompany their blog posts and data, American portal company Realtor.com produces regular videos in which its resident expert analyses the housing market in general.
Not all of the companies we looked at publish regular reports or have a named house price index. Many prefer to release content around their data on an ad-hoc basis to make sure that the press sits up and takes notice.
For those who do publish regular reports, we found that most do so on a monthly basis.
The use of surveys and behavioural data seems to be done on a less regular basis. House price indices and the reports around them though tend to be monthly in the larger markets with big-name portals and more fluctuating markets (the USA, the UK, Australia) and quarterly in smaller ones (Ireland, the Netherlands).
This last question is a bit subjective, but as we analysed the content these portals put out we couldn’t help noticing the subtle changes in tone and presentation between content intended for different audiences.
While by and large most of the content we see is intended for average users - be they owners looking to sell, prospective buyers/renters or just curious window shoppers - some content is clearly intended for the press or for other companies in the value chain.
By way of example, Daft’s quarterly report openly says exactly who it’s intended for:
“The goal of the Daft Report is to use this information to help all actors in the property market make informed decisions about buying and selling. In addition, because it is freely available, the Daft Report can help inform the media, the general public and policymakers about the latest developments in the property market”
Then there are reports such as the Rightmove House Price Index which have a large chunk of text and handy expert quotes upfront and whose publication is accompanied by a press release circulated to journalists.
In some cases - such as Russian market leader Cian - most of the data is kept off the blog site and monetised via bespoke reports for their agent customers.
The table below shows is an abridged version of our analysis of the data-based content of 25 of the largest property portal sites around the world as of July 2021.
Some of the research is necessarily subjective and if we couldn’t find something easily then we assumed that users would not be able to find it either and marked it absent.
Portal Country Format Data Frequency Designed For House Price Data Listings /Transaction Data Behavioural Data Survey Data Dedicated website section Blog reports PDF Download Video analysis Rightmove UK PDF and Blog report House Price data, Number of Lsitings Monthly Media Y Y N N N Y Y N funda The Netherlands Blog Report Behavioural and Survey Data as well as House price and Listing Numbers Quarterly Media Y Y Y Y N Y N N SeLoger France Blog Report and Infographic Video House Price data Monthly Users Y N N N N Y N Y Daft Ireland Blog Report, Infographics and PDF Behavioural and Survey Data as well as House price and Listing Numbers Quarterly Media Y Y Y Y N Y Y N idealista Spain Dedicated website section House Price data, Listing rotation data Ad-hoc Users Y Y N N Y N N N fotocasa Spain Dedicated website section House Price data, Number of Lsitings Ad-hoc Users Y Y N N Y N N N Zoopla UK PDF and Blog report House Pice data, Listings data Monthly Media Y Y N N N Y Y N Imovirtual Portugal Blog Report House Price Data Monthly Users Y N N N N Y N N ImmoScout24 Germany Interactive map and Occasional Blog reports Behavioural data, House Price data Ad-hoc Users Y N Y N N Y N N Immobiliare.it Italy Interactive map House Price data Y N N N Y N N N REA Group Australia PDF and Blog Report Number of Listings, Behavioural Data and relative sale price data (no concrete numbers only relative index, the only concrete median prices are available on the suburb pages) Weekly Users N Y Y N N Y Y Y Domain Australia Blog Report House Price data Quarterly Users Y N N N N Y N N PropertyGuru Singapore / Malaysia PDF and Blog report House price data, Lisitngs data (relativised, no concrerte numbers) Quarterly Media Y Y N N N Y Y N iProperty Singapore / Malaysia Blog Report Only Uses third party data t report on Ad-hoc Users N N N N N Y N N Property24 South Africa Dedicated website section House Pice data, Listings data Ad-hoc Users Y Y N N Y N N N Zillow USA PDF, Blog Reports, Dedicated website section House price data, Listings data, Survey data, Behavioural data Ad-hoc Users Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N Realtor USA Dedicated website section, Weekly Vlog, Monthly Blog Report, House price data, Listings data, Behavioural data, Survey data Weekly and Quarterly Users Y Y Y Y Y Y N Y Imovelweb Brazil PDF Report (regional), Dedicated website section House price data Monthly Users Y N N N Y N Y N Zonaprop Argentina PDF Report (regional), Dedicated website section House price data Monthly Users Y N N N Y N Y N Hemnet Sweden Blog report Survey data, Lisitngs data, House price data Monthly Users Y Y N Y N Y N N Cian Russia Paid report for clients House price data, Listings data Ad-hoc Customers Y Y N N N N Y N Bayut UAE Blog report, Dedicated website section House price data, Behavioural data Half yearly Customers Y N Y N Y Y N N Beike China Blog report House price data Quarterly Users Y N N N N Y N N Otodom Poland Blog report House price data Monthly Users Y N N N N Y N N Spitogatos Greece Dedicated website section, Blog report House price data, Listings volume data Quarterly Users Y Y N N N Y N N Portal Country Format Data Frequency Designed For House Price Data Listings /Transaction Data Behavioural Data Survey Data Dedicated website section Blog reports PDF Download Video analysis