Just when you thought there were enough competitors in the real estate vertical, here comes some more. Last week a new real estate search engine, Roost, launched in selected US markets. Today UK-based DotHomes, which has been operating in the UK and South Africa, makes its US debut. DotHomes seeks to become “the Google of property search” and is crawling for listings. By contrast, Yahoo Real Estate, Roost, Trulia, and Zillow, as well as others, get feeds from brokers and MLS services.
I spoke last week with DotHomes founder Douglas de Jager and had a chance to use the site over the weekend, however I haven’t done any systematic comparison of how it stacks up against competitors. I can say that some quick comparisons showed that it had fewer listings in some cases than Trulia. However, the site is very straightforward and easy to use and the data will improve over time.
Assuming the data get stronger, the approach DotHomes is taking allows consumers to perform very specific “unstructured” lookups, as well as browse for listings. For example:
Again, the data in my preliminary investigation were incomplete but the interface is attractive and the site is very simple and usable. But comprehensiveness is key to success in this vertical.
Real estate search is very much like travel in that there’s no single site that so far can be trusted to be comprehensive or contain all the desired information. Accordingly, would-be home buyers must use multiple sites. However, the segment is becoming increasingly competitive and there isn’t room for 10 or 12 successful sites.
That’s especially true in a slumping US real estate market, because while traffic is up to real estate sites, advertising is down.