A World of Ideas

2 minute read

A look around the World for real estate agent websites shows that the best agent real estate sites in Australia if anything are ahead of the rest of them. However the majority of Real Estate Agents websites fall well below the standards we all should aspire to and that my friends is standards based web development. In fact real estate agents websites that are not standards based will fall behind over the next 5 years.

The USA Market is getting attacked fairly heavily because of the way property historically always been sold.

In most cases to buy from a real estate agency you would need to engage with a buyers agent. With the selling agent taking 3% and the buyers agent taking 3% it has established itself as a lucrative industry and it is under attack.

I spent a few hours looking at agents websites and on the whole they are deplorable. If I see another Tammie Faye Baker look alike I will not be able to eat again for quite some time. Some of the traditional portals such as realtor.com (think Real Estate Institute of America) have around 3 million homes for sale.

However the market is being attacked by innovative solutions such as Redfin and Zillow and Trulia. There are also many speciality sites such as City Cribs and Home Values.

Home Valuations is a big industry and companies like RPData have done very well over the years. I believe REA Australia currently has a contract to supply agents sales data to RPData and this expires soon, so expect to hear an announcement on this in the next year or so. This could be another revenue bonanza for REA or Domain.

In the US you consumers can search for sales data for up to 60 million homes for free on Home Values and there are many new innovations coming our way. Does anyone know of other innovative websites?

Tell us if you liked this content.
Show CommentsClose Comments


  • Stephen Neate
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 11:48 am 0Likes

    Hi Peter,

    I am still impressed by http://spyk.com/. Its real estate, its mapping, its very web 2.0, and its different. Different doesn’t always mean innovative, but in this case I would tend to say they are.

    Not sure about the age of some data, but then its in BETA still so a lot can be excused.

    Tend to agree with you on the look of some local sites, but then again, on a per capita basis I reckon Aussie sites (as in Agent Sites) have other countries beat hands down.

    Culture does have some bearing on this though. In Australia and New Zealand a website (any type) is judged fairly or unfairly on its look as much as its content. Where as in other countries content is generally more important than the overall aesthetics. Having worked for companies supplying to parts of Europe some of the aesthetics make you want to reach for the nearest Airplane Bag, but the content (mostly text) is what the viewer is after, and lack of aesthetics are excused more readily. Mind you, a great looking site, with great content will always win, irrespective of country.


  • Peter
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 12:35 pm 0Likes

    Steve, hi yes I agree with you, however text can look good also, it is the feel for the user that is the most important issue that we must overcome, basic does not necessarily mean ugly.

  • Simon Baker
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 2:50 pm 0Likes


    There is certainly lots happening in the US. My team and i visit there a few times each year and we know all the players you mentioned about – some quite well.

    Realtor.com is aligned with move.com – the largest site in the US. Move.com run the site for the NAR (National Association of Realtors). Move has around 13m UB’s per month and carries almost all listings in the US. These are replicated on the tealtor.com site.

    Trulia is run by two guys – Pete (from the UK) and Sammi (from Finland). They take free data feeds and try to upsell agents with branding packages. They also make $ from display advertising. UB’s are currently around the 1 million per month mark – perhaps a little less.

    Zillow is an example of great PR. They have traffic around the 3m UB’s per month mark. On the site you can look at any house in the US and find out what it is worth – well their estimate atleast. The problem is sale prices and Zestimates (as they call them) are varying lots. They make their money from display advertising – although not much at the moment – probably $15m – $20m per annum.

    Redfin is a discount brokerage (like ZipRealty) and charges commission rates

  • Mark Cohen
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 10:48 pm 0Likes

    (I work at Domain.com.au)

    I agree with Stephen’s take on Spyk, in that I find their variable width implementation refreshing, and their maps work well on my mac. Even the wheelmouse zoom works – this level of Mac support is fantastic in a Microsoft product. I think Stephen’s point about aesthetics / presentation is valid too – you only need to look at craigslist


  • Simon Baker
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 5:07 am 0Likes


    Here is the rest of my post … the internet at Dubai airport was troublesome

    Redfin is a discount brokerage (like ZipRealty) and charges commission rates

  • Simon Baker
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 5:08 am 0Likes

    Redfin is a discount brokerage (like ZipRealty) and charges commission rates less than the 6% charged by most. They rely almost solely on the internet for lead generation. Also their sales people are salaried and not commissioned.

    Housevalues is a lead generation company. (Like homegain/reply/realestate.com-no relation). They trawl the internet for leads and then onsell them to the agents. This works in the US as agents appear to be happy to pay for leads – sometimes up to $50 if they are quality leads.

    Simon Baker
    MD REA Group

  • Ralph
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 12:08 pm 0Likes

    Google have just linked to their maps from their homepage, lightning fast, can get directions and find local businesses, only time before this expands to real estate listings. Never quite seen anything so fast it’s like a PC application.

  • Lucas Ng
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 12:34 pm 0Likes

    (I work at Fairfax Digital)

    extate.co.uk is the current darling of the web 2.0 real estate community with its fresh approach – tagging, skype integration, lots of ajax and RSS.

    rentometer.com is also a favorite.

    There are many innovative property websites out there – Inman’s 2006 Innovator awards is a good starting point: http://www.inman.com/connectsf/innovator.aspx

    Few, if any are compelling enough to draw users away from the mainstream industry players. Even ‘old school’ agent websites like remax, century21 and coldwellbanker have more visitors than Trulia.

  • Michael
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 2:51 pm 0Likes

    Lucas – how do you measure site traffic. Infact i refer that question to anyone who can offer some suggestions.

    I plugged the websites mentioned above into Alexa and received the following stats.

    TRULIA: 4573
    REMAX: 5786
    Century21: 11968
    ColdwellBanker: 12885

    All with .com

    This would suggest to me that Trulia delivers more traffic in contradiction to your statement above.

    My understanding is that Alexa is skewed US but i also searched

    REALESTATE.com.au: 999
    DOMAIN.com.au: 2748

    This to me is reasonably fair given the published Visitor data both used for last month- and surprisingly far stronger than those other sites you indicated.

    Australia Sites
    LJHOOKER: 32115
    RAYWHITE: 159232
    Roberts site RWM: 1066476

    BUSINESS2: 262700

    This suggest this website generates far more traffic than Richardson and Wrench corporate or Roberts own Franchise site and probably the bulk of real estate websites Nationally.

    Any better tools for evaluating others??? Would love to know. HITWISE and NEILSONS excluded.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 3:21 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Michael,

    I have not done an Alexa comparison for quite some considerable time and I see that not much has changed on that front. What many seem to forget is that many stand alone agency websites continue to raise their own bar with new innovations. So that in their market place they can identify their greater market share, without the portals whereby they drive their own databases to achieved the desired results internally.

    It is not always a case of look at the portals – as “pound for pound”, I think that more than a few can stand “toe to toe” with property portals on individual suburb results.

  • Sam
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 3:30 pm 0Likes

    Alexa only gets site traffic data from those that have the Alexa tool bar installed. I don’t know anyone who has it installed.

    If you take any notice at all of their figures you’re nuts.

  • Sam
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 3:31 pm 0Likes

    It is useful for showing related sites and thats all anyone who “knows” uses it for.

  • Lucas Ng
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm 0Likes

    (I work at Fairfax Digital)

    As Sam mentioned, Alexa only measures traffic via users that have installed the Alexa toolbar.

    The most likely Alexa toolbar users are webmasters. This leads to a heavy skew towards tech-savvy websites. The more webmaster-orientated a site is, the more skewed the Alexa traffic.

    A famous example:
    Ask.com = 4th largest search engine in the US
    DigitalPoint.com = A popular webmaster community forum
    Which site has more users?

    In other words, sites like trulia that have a more web savvy audience tend to show a bias result in Alexa. The stats I mentioned were from Comscore Media Metrix, who use a browser cookie methodology like Nielsen Netratings (which has its own flaws, but that’s a story for another time) and in Dec 2006 reported 580,000 unique visitors for Trulia, well behind the aforementioned agent websites.

  • Michael
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Lucas –

    (anyone know whether google is going to enter this measurement fray at any stage – they seem like the perfect choice considering their penetration)

Leave a comment