Barcelona based Properazzi.com, the award winning search site is now boasting over 4 million listings in its database, making them the worlds largest search engine exclusively dedicated to property. This follows a trend in the European vertical property world, starting with Extate launching a South African service this past spring followed by Nestoria's Spanish based service, a few weeks later.
Properazzi's new service now includes natural language search processing; a density Google map feature; localized interface translations in 32 languages and the impressive ability to view property prices in nearly 100 currencies.
I still did find the map a little clumsy to use, and got frustrated trying to look for property in Libya (I've always wanted to live there, the weather and the women are really nice I'm told :)
Surprisingly in my Libyan search I wasn't able to come across any listings in Tripoli, the capital and largest city in the country. And no properties found in Dubai or the Emirates, which has a much hotter property market than North Africa, and which in my opinion, would have made more logical sense for Properazzi's expansion out of Europe.
From a UI standpoint, even though I'm feeling the look and feel of Prop's Google mapping, I still wish they had included an old skool drop down menu listing all 49 countries on their database. With so much choice available to me it was difficult to know exactly where and how to start searching. Plus geography was never my strongest subject, so even though I may have known the name of a country, town, or city where I wanted to search, I had difficulty finding it on the map (like Tripoli for example).
Properazzi's technical success poses a dilemma for them from a business and marketing perspective, in that their unique strength of having properties listed from 49 different countries may actually prove to be their greatest weakness. All real estate is local and consumers want local intelligence, which is something Properazzi fails to deliver. Even though they have the technical ability to cover 49 unique markets, they lack the local intelligence that consumers ultimately look for when choosing real estate. One thing Properazzi has to do to gain credibility with consumers is to actively engage the local agents in the individual markets they cover. If they don't do that, their impressive technical abilities will soon prove worthless. It's probably the main reasons why Trovit fell off the map (pun intended) after starting out with a bit of hype. Certainly here in London they never bother to engage with the local agents. Maybe they act different in some of the other markets they cover but except for posting the odd comment on Techrunch or Blognation, Trovit is nowhere to be seen, so people forgot about them. They exist in the abstract world of the afterthought, maybe that's how they want to exist. Properazzi may end up in the same world if they're not careful.
The flip side however, is that with all this data that they collect, Prop is in a privileged position to begin servicing global property professionals and investors, who pay big bucks for this kind of data. That's what's making Cushman Wakefield, Knight Frank and CBRE the multibillion powerhouses they are. If Properazzi were to begin collecting and organizing and publishing information similar to what Nestoria recently did, they could be well on their way to making some serious money. 2.0 real estate guys, you're missing out on a huge money making opportunity by not taking advantage of that aspect of your business. Relying almost exclusively on a advertising model is flaky.
It's perhaps the one reason why Rightmove is the UK's number one property website and will remain that way for a long time, even though their search experience is really crap. They actually don't give a sh*t. They're in the 'search collection business' and by publishing the Rightmove Index every month, they're now considered reliable, credible and authoratative.
A few months ago, Zoomf launched the Zoomf index, which was 'hot'. But now that they're under new management, that idea seams to have fizzled out completely. Nestoria sporadically publishes search analytics, but so far nothing organized and consistent from them.
Of course, once the local agents find out you're using their data to process the information it could get messy, but still ultimately worth the price.