I’m somewhat of a night owl, so I thought I’d have no problem waiting out the U.S. launch of the UK site DotHomes. But it is getting pretty late and the U.S. version of the site still hasn’t gone live. 🙁
However, TechCrunchUK published their story (with the not so promising comment: “The question, is will the US – packed to the gunnels with property search engines and in a sub-prime slump – actually notice?“), so I thought I’d give my analysis based on what I learned from a good, long conversation with one of their co-founders, their press release and a bit of playing on their UK site.
Let’s start with the good stuff:
- They have slick crawling technology that does a great job indexing home listings from a variety of listing sites
- They have a well developed one-box search that allows for all kinds of inputs and actually delivers decent results
- They have a healthy sense of flair as demonstrated by their “I’m feeling wealthy” button
Whereas the recently released search site Roost.com appears to be going for the “kayak of real estate”, DotHomes is clearly going after the “google of real estate”. Like Google, they display only the teaser information on listings before sending you back to the original source (the crawled website) for more information. So far, so good!
However, I’m a bit skeptical this site will generate much interest or buzz in the U.S. for a number of reasons (none of which are fatal, but…):
- DotHomes is following less than a week after the release of the Roost.com site, which got some great buzz around the RE.net for having a listings aggregation approach that made sense (i.e. get all the MLS listings!).
- Besides entering a crowded space, DotHomes is also opting for a crawl approach to get listings, which will never compete in either comprehensiveness or timeliness with direct MLS feeds.(although it does allow for more freedom to add other listing types).
- And finally, I didn’t get the impression that the DotHomes team really understood oddities of the existing US real estate market. Some of the background material they presented made me think they hadn’t really done their homework in terms of really understanding the complex dance of agents, brokers, brokerages and MLS organizations that allow listings to get placed on the internet in the first place.
With all that said, I’ve been following the cofounders of this site for quite some time (including back when the site was called Extate.com). Artemi Krymski and Douglas de Jager are extremely smart guys and I’m sure that after they get some U.S. experience with this launch, they’ll regroup, adjust their tactics a bit and continue to produce interesting products that will keep us talking.