Real estate services business is one of those verticals with an overwhelming number of websites. There are thousands of websites with apartments and villa listings. But does it really mean that this internet model of business generate a proportionate amount of revenue? Well, not really!
By many ways real estate services is one of those businesses that are ideally suited for a net based model. On one side you have a seller who wants to sell his property and other side you have a buyer who wants to buy a similar property. The seller lists the property for sale on a website. Prospective buyers finds it on the site and if found suitable, the buyer and seller come to an agreement for sale. No searching for agent, no commission. It all looks so simple. But it seldom happens that way.
The sale of a property incurs an agent commission of 2.5 to 6% (depending on your country, region, agreement with agent etc) of the sale price. The above described scenario means only a small listing fee to be spent by the seller. Consider the online recruitment business where a similar situation exists. It has done very well unlike real estate websites and sites like monster.com and hotjobs.com have a high brand recall. But a similar success is not found for real estate services websites. Spare a few like loopnet.com and costar.com which has found success in the commercial real estate sector. The truth of the matter is that the real estate multiple listing service (MLS) and agents tightly guard the seller data and other information. However, some other reasons also exist.
A real estate listing, unlike a job listing, needs to provide more information to look credible for the buyer. Collecting the required data, pictures of the property, (even videos some times) recent sales data, above all removing outdated data from the database, all this needs money to be spent.
Not all those who buy and sell property are negotiators. The agent claims to be one and normally takes such a role. But on most cases, they just make both the buyer and seller feel good about the deal. Both parties feel they negotiated and got the best deal. Also, not everybody wants to publicize that their property is up for sale, especially for commercial properties. An agent is entrusted to find buyers for the property.
There can be a solution for most of these issues. A real estate website can still provide the first level of information to seller. At least it can narrow down the search to a few properties of ones choice. With a little effort one can get additional information necessary for deciding the suitability of that property against your requirements and budget. As for confidential listing of property, this can be incorporated in a website. For example, KeralaListings.com a property marketing company hides the seller data and other traceable information from a property listing if tagged ‘confidential’ by the seller. This listing appears in search results for the given parameters and the prospective buyer can email the seller of his interest in the property.
As real estate websites adopt steps, to provide information which is updated and verified, this business model will gradually pick up. Though the cost of maintaining such sites is slightly more, this should gradually increase public trust on this model. Even with all this, the cost of property transaction can reduced considerably. Not to mention about the time saved for finding a property.
By John Benson