Property portals are not a new thing. Since the mid to late 90s, not long after the internet went public, Property Portals have gradually moved the process of searching for a new property online, allowing people to browse listings and look at photos from the comfort of their own home before venturing out to view in person.
And since the early 2000s the industry has exploded with new and niche competitors worldwide. But aside from making it ever-easier to search for a new home, how are property portals changing the real estate industry and are they indeed making it better for home buyers?
Why do we love a property portal?
Property portals mirror the way consumer habits have changed. A portal offers a greater selection of properties to browse than the traditional real estate agent window or newspaper insert and it offers an easier way to navigate them. There’s also the fact that online listings are not limited in terms of the amount of space that’s available for details. So, buyers can learn enough about a property to decide if they want to take precious time out to visit.
For agents, portals offer an easy way to get your properties and your brand in front of a far bigger audience increasing the numbers of leads and enquiries you receive. Depending on the portal, you’ll also receive data insights into properties that are selling well and tools to help improve your listings.
How are portals changing?
The first portals were developed to focus purely on property advertising, helping to get more eyes on listings. These days, business models are changing.
Established portals are looking for new revenue streams. Many are expanding their services to move away from solely behaving like a search engine. They’re getting more involved with the end customer and even, in some cases, offering direct services at all stages of the buying journey by acquiring numerous companies that offer complementary services. From financial products comparison sites to estate agent back office software and even website design, their aim is to diversify and make money from as many parts of the process as possible.
As industry expert Mike DelPrete points out though, the market leaders, or at least those at the very top, are continuing to focus very much on being a great place to go to buy property. They’re taking a ‘less is more’ approach to make their portals as easy as possible to use. It’s those with lower market share that are integrating new business initiatives such as mortgages, insurance and home valuations. But by acting as a ‘one stop shop’ are they actually giving buyers what they need?
Where does it go from here?
Ultimately, portals want agents to receive high numbers of leads and enquiries through them, so the biggest value a portal can give to an agent is bigger and better exposure of your properties.
Big data is becoming ever more important as we can better monitor people visiting property sites and then use algorithms to predict purchase behaviour and intent. In the long run, not only will this help you personalise the interactions you have with customers as an agent, but it will also help you to understand the numbers, win more listings and outperform your competitors.
Portals such as Kyero are focusing on supporting agents to market in the most effective way: providing them the best tools – such as easy upload facilities and automatic translation – to help maximise their business performance and achieve a valuable marketing ROI.
In the months to come we’ll see further technological advancements in the industry, some are beginning to test a virtual reality viewer that will allow prospective buyers to look round properties without leaving their sitting room. Push technologies and smart phone apps, such as Kyero’s Tinder-style location matchmaker, are putting user-friendly property searching in the palm of our hands.
In the end, what property portals must not forget is their true reason for being: To help people find property. And no matter how they choose to do it, it’s those that do this the best that will ultimately succeed.