Homehound.com today relaunched a new site with a real Web 2.0 feel. I actually like many features of this site and some I do not like at all. Whilst there is nothing new, it is the first portal of note to actually launch a front line offering with this technology. The site looks a little basic, but I think this is deliberate and it is clean!
Type in an address, suburb or postcode and the server returns results from the database to do some more searching. Nothing really new, but the way it is done deserves a pat on the back. You can then select either sales or rentals and receive your search results. Maybe they should tell the user what to do next as you have to then click either sales or rentals.
Search results come to the left hand side and a map appear to the right – well sometimes, I tried a few searches and the map did not appear. The results are clean and you can view very small thumbnails of listings before jumping to the actual property page. The map unfortunately does not scale as you increase the size of the page.
I would really like someone to do this as many Internet users have large screens and this is where portals can take advantage as it is my belief that most people with larger monitors are more than likely more Internet aware and have more money.
Ok, so we go further and click on an icon on the map and get a little pop up, again you can scroll through images (tiny) which is a great little innovation. You can also save your favourites and view them later (but I cannot find where I click to see these.)
You can also view full details in a new window or by clicking on and going to another page and then going back. I would like to see view listing in new window as default and more prominent because it makes more sense to users rather than having to go back and forth.
Advertising on the site is at a minimum but it must be said this may well be because not many companies want to advertise on the site. Will be interesting to see if advertising increases with popularity.
All in all a lovely little development, clean and crisp, fast enough with only a few minor quibbles to begin with.
These Web 2.0 sites are in their early stages and this site has shown you do not need to overload the site with cool stuff. Just give the user what they want and quickly and no users do not go to real estate sites to get quotes on home loans or to view pop overs/unders of ads crawling across the page.
The site is no blow away winner but I know they have a small budget and credits must go where credits are due…But they must get more agents and then tell Australia about the site.
I think homehound.com will only ever be a fringe player as it is owned and operated by major franchise groups and PPL and that pretty much means most (not all) private agencies will not get involved. The site also makes no mention whether it is FREE forever and has no policies on competition for listing placements in their terms and conditions.
Please Note: homehound.com.au is a partnership between Property Page Pty Ltd (PPL) and the Independent Print Media Group.
PPL is a company owned by the real estate industry’s major franchise groups. The shareholders are Century 21, L.J. Hooker, Ray White and Raine and Horne – all members of the National Real Estate Franchise Association (NREFA).
Please Note 2: I only spent around one hour on the site and I am sure their will be a few more issues. But have a look for yourselves and let me know what you think.