Rat and Mouse
Area: Property online
Tue
15
Apr

They’re the Internet’s version of the Oscars, and Foxtons is the only British candidate in the real estate section. See their rivals here. Results announced on April 29.

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Mon
03
Mar

According to research by Rightmove, broadband speeds now outrank schools and transport links in importance to house hunters, and so has started including connectivity speed in listings. More here.

20140303rightmove 8

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Thu
20
Feb

20140220googleglass 2

A £12.5m Battersea Mansion, a couple of enthusiastic fellas wearing Google Glass, and a template for what could be the online viewing of the future. There’s an immediacy about this that’s different to the highly-produced video particulars that were the last “big thing”, and a sense you’re poking into all the nooks and corners as you would on a real viewing. My impression? This less rehearsed, more haphazard approach does a better job of selling a property. (In fact, I’ve made an offer. Only joking.)

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Mon
23
Dec

20131223nestoria 2

We like it. Simple. Clean. In keeping with the design/functionality ethos behind the property search site itself. Go here for the story behind the change. Hardcore geeks can go here to see a slideshow about the design process. 

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Wed
16
Oct

Remember Tepilo? It was SB's no-fees, bypass-an-agent property sales website. We discussed it briefly in 2009, and on the subject of monetization she seemed hopeful of future sponsorship, but reluctant to charge a fee. It's hardly a defeat, given what's happened to the economy in the years since, but it seems that SB's decided the only way forward is with fees… and the new Tepilo offers fixed-fee estate agency with all the online trimmings (Rightmove advertising, for instance). More info and fee structure here.

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Tue
20
Aug

A list of around 10,000 names and passwords is apparently doing the rounds, headed "part 1" of a leak of registered users of the Foxtons websites, after an unconfirmed hacking attack. Users are advised to log in and change their passwords ASAP, especially if they share passwords with other sites. Foxtons haven't confirmed whether the list is genuine. More here.

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Wed
05
Jun

20130605belgian

And blogs devoted to them. 

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[via Curbed]

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Thu
09
May

In America, a blogger uses Tumblr to document NYC's most hideous looking rentals.

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20130509worstroom2

It's addictive.

[via Curbed]

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Mon
04
Feb

So…Thursday came and went, agents had been warned to discontinue data feeds to the PropertyLive portal (agents' own alternative to the commercial giants) in readiness for a Thursday night shutdown, but the news section continued to be updated on Friday and - as yet - the site remains operational. Anybody know what's going on?

PropertyLive 2.0? [January 25, 2013]
PropertyLive: Dead [January 18, 2013]

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Fri
25
Jan

On Monday, Nick Salmon wrote passionately about the imminent death of agent-owned portal PropertyLive, pointing to a failure of management rather than concept in the face of increasing frustration with the expense of supporting the major commercial property portals. On Tuesday, we learned that Rightmove was more popular than the BBC News website. Yesterday, it was all about surfer loyalty. Today, Nick Salmon is counting the responses to Monday, and daring to hope. There's no reason, he argues, why PropertyLive can't be saved, supported, owned and promoted by the agents. And - despite on Monday claiming the fault was very demonstrably with management - he does have "a certain sympathy for NFoPP". Professional cat-herders can contact him at the email address at the bottom of this.

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Tue
22
Jan

According to Rightmove's blog, they're now the sixth busiest website in the country, using data from Experian Hitwise, beating BBC News, and only giving up ground to global players including Facebook, Google and YouTube.

Perhaps their popularity (although not necessarily shared by the agents) is down to the variety of listings, including this igloo in Sutton Coldfield, available to rent (POA). 

We are pleased to offer this compact and bijou studio residence featuring scenic views of Sutton Park and close to Town Gate and Wyndley Leisure Centre. Comprising feature arched entrance porch and domed living space this property is full of character and the occupant will be the talk of the town. The property comes part furnished with bench seating to the living space which could also be used as a single bed if required. The living space has a south facing triple wooden stick barred window adding additional security (this may be upgraded to uPVC double glazed in the future if required).

20130122igloo

Fri
18
Jan

And agents are cross, according to this, after the premature death of the National Association of Estate Agents' £2m Rightmove-rival PropertyLive. One regional chairman has commented: "PropertyLive could have been successful if the management had been up to the job." He commented that some of his local members had even cut ties with the larger commercial portals to support the homegrown alternative. It does seem extraordinary that a trade body, with cash to spend and the good will of an industry often vocal about their resentment of the costs of being on the major portals, can't overcome the early-to-market advantage Rightmove et al. More here.

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Fri
04
Jan

It's that old chestnut… bricks'n'mortar, big tie knots, jangling keys and parking fines versus the new low-cost online bucket shops. It seemed that most industry professionals had reasoned there was room for both, depending on the kind of (lack of) service the vendor wants, but there's trouble brewing once again on the portals, with some vocal criticism of Rightmove and Zoopla for allowing the new breed to list alongside the old. Go here for the sordid details. 

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Mon
10
Dec

Speaking of Zoopla, this interactive map hooks into their data (along with stats from the Land Registry) to illustrate in colour-coded splendour exactly where property's selling and where it's not. Click on a postcode area to see the number of properties on the market, the percentage under offer/sold subject to contract, plus changes in numbers for sale/house prices compared to the same quarter a year ago.  

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… in the form of a £30,000 cheque made payable to Shelter, after personal donations by staff, plus events throughout the year. The property portal group has pledged at least £25,000 to The Prince's Trust for 2013. More here.

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Tue
20
Nov

Rightmove's November index shows asking prices falling by 2.6%, the best/least November fall in three years. Year-on-year, asking prices are up, by 2% (and 0.2% after "removing" London). On the dot co dot uk, activity is up 20% and enquiries up 11% on the same time 2011. See the report here.

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Wed
24
Oct

20121024twitter

Go here to read how Ed Manley and James Cheshire used a dataset of geolocated London tweets to map out language use in the capital. Our reproduction doesn't do the map justice, click through to see colour coded language hotspots in all their glory. 

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Wed
03
Oct

They were always strange bedfellows. Spicerhaart had been super-critical of Tesco's disastrous attempt to break into estate agenting, but joined up with them in a surprise bid to turn the brand into an online portal, with Spicerhaart know-how and the Tesco marketing reach. Now, they're fighting it out in court, in a complicated game of claim and counter-claim involving (alleged) breaches of contract and (alleged) failure to repay loans. Full story here.

Proactive iSold marketing strategy [July 2, 2010]
Agents told, don't panic about iSold [March 10, 2010]
Tesco and property… Indigo again [October 16, 2009]
Is Tesco selling Tesco Property Market? [May 1, 2008]
Tesco couldn't beat 'em, will join 'em [February 4, 2008]
Estate agents grab whatever's to hand, prepare to fight Tesco [July 30, 2007]

 


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Wed
19
Sep

It's called Netanagent.com. Vendors and landlords register details of the property they want to sell/let, and those details are passed on to interested agents (minus contact details for the agents). The site then passes on "bids", enabling to consumers to choose the most competitive deal. It's not the only website to be offering this service, but it does suggest vendors are interesting in picking an agent based largely on fee, rather than skills, knowledge of the market, local reputation, personal service etc etc. After all, if the agent fails to sell your property, you don't even have to pay anything!

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Thu
13
Sep

Noticed these this week?

20120913taxi

Bit more tasteful than a Foxtons Mini… but "from Hammersmith to Hampstead?" Has London shrunk?

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Wed
05
Sep

Zoopla apparently recorded a 45% rise in the number of visits in the first three weeks of August compared to the same period in 2011. More here.

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Mon
06
Aug

It's Rightmove's bête noir, unrealistic pricing that kills the market, and it's the subject of their latest survey. In London, 65% believe property to be priced more than it's worth. Nationally, half of prospective buyers think property's priced beyond its real value. Only a third of vendors would agree. More here

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It's Rightmove's bête noir, unrealistic pricing that kills the market, and it's the subject of their latest survey. In London, 65% believe property to be priced more than it's worth. Nationally, half of prospective buyers think property's priced beyond its real value. Only a third of vendors would agree. More here

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Wed
01
Aug

Bad news from LSL property services… pre-tax losses of £7.9m (after a profit last year of £6.5m) plus the apparent intention to start closing estate agency offices (the LSL group includes Marsh & Parsons and Reeds Rains). While slow sales are blamed for the agency closures, it's legal action from small lenders disputing pre-bust valuations causing the major problems for the group, whose shares fell 12% yesterday. According to a spokesman, they've been caught up in a tide of no-win-no-fees actions. Hardly healthy.

A very different story from Rightmove, though, with income up 23% and profit up 28% in the first half of the year. Profit margin is up, too, struggling estate agents will be delighted to hear, reaching 73.5%. Traffic is up 20% on a year ago. 

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Wed
25
Jul

The study also showed that Estate Agencies that automatically published their blog posts to their social channels get 50% more leads.

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Tue
24
Jul

20120724rightmove

It's an interesting project, an interactive video offering local market intelligence with a Mission Impossible kind of feel to it (apt considering the current market). The "mission" is to get the vendor off on the right track in a buyers' market, using (fairly pointless) average property price data and offering presentation advice. More interesting… the motivation. Rightmove has been banging on about overpricing for some time. A postcode-driven video should always be cruder than advice from an estate agent. Rightmove clearly doesn't think so. Queue the offended estate agents, commenting here

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Mon
16
Jul

The Rat and Mouse's more eagle-eyed readers might have spotted we have a new advertiser… 👆 and 👉. We're very grateful to Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, for helping support the blog.

Stacks - founded in 1984 - is the country's oldest and most experienced independent search agency. Their independence means you can be 100% sure they're working in your, the buyer's, best interests; and their knowledge of the locality, from any one of 18 offices, means you're benefiting from both experience and a working familiarity with the local market. 

Not only that, if you're a property professional with an interest in joining this leading agency, Stacks is recruiting. Click one of the banners for more information. 

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20120716rightmove

The Rightmove Index, which uses the portal's giant database to measure asking prices, shows a 1.7% decline from June to July, leaving asking prices still up in on the year, by 2.3%. The report paints a picture of a buyers' market, with new sellers outnumbering successful buyers by almost two to one. It also blames the weather, and the distraction of the Olympics, for a poor month. The message to vendors: first impressions count. Web users are apparently spending an average of 2.7 seconds on a property, before either moving on or seeking further information. (That might be potential buyers dismissing properties quicker; it might be potential buyers treating the process of seeking further information more casually, since it's a click of the mouse, rather than a call to an agent.) Get your own copy here.

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Thu
05
Jul

Some lateral thinking with this listing.

20120705gorillas

This large family home within Bristol Zoo is steeped in history and is set within its own private island of approximately one acre. Situated in the North East of the zoo, the property has an unusual combination of neighbours including lemurs, penguins and pygmy hippos, all of whom form a strong community spirit resulting in low crime rates. The interior of the property is in need of some modernisation to ensure it provides the most stimulating environment possible. Suggested enhancements would be to enlarge the main living area as well as the bedrooms, which could affectively double the amount of living space.

It's an interesting idea - a cross-promotion, in effect - with Rightmove lending the portal's eco-system to Bristol Zoo to publicise its effort and educate the public. More here.

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Tue
28
Feb

20120228PropertySorter2

An interesting launch, not really a new property search engine but an added layer of functionality for Zoopla, PropertySorty.com takes the Zoopla database, strips out duplicates, adds new sorting facilities (leasehold length, square footage for example) and presents the properties in a clean and pleasing way. It also incorporates Rightmove's "draw a search" tool. It's in beta and it's currently London-only, but so far it appears (very) quick, smooth (I like the fade-outs and fade-ins) and functional.

I asked Michael Dent, of developers Liberty Tech, about his plans for the website. He told me it was designed primarily as as technical exercise... an experiment by some property website addicts to see whether they could improve upon the user experience.

20120228PropertySorter

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Thu
23
Feb

If you're looking a new build, and you've an iPad, iPod Touch or smart phone running Apple's IOS or Google's Android, you might want to consider this from What House:

Available for Apple here, Android here.

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Mon
09
Jan

It's not exactly this, but think you've got the skills to battle the Granny?

Then enter the competition here.

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Wed
28
Dec

Back in early November we wrote about Google's decision to start charging commercial websites for using their GoogleMaps API if they exceeded certain bandwidth allowances. We wondered how this would affect the many property search sites that rely on the facility.

Yesterday, Ed Freyfogle, founder of the innovative Nestoria property search site, appeared to answer that question by announcing he was ditching GoogleMaps for OpenStreetMap. In an interesting and equable blog post he pointed to OSM's excellent service and its sympatico, open-source philosophy, before describing a contact with a Google salesperson that was a less than winning experience.

Having agreed to a time for a call, the sales rep missed the appointment with no warning, instead calling me 45 minutes late. It was quickly obvious he had done no research whatsoever about our service, what we do, or even where (in which countries) we do it. He was unable to explain the basics of the new charging regime - for example, what exactly is a "map-view", telling me instead to "ask your developers". Finally he quoted a price to continue using Google Maps (just on nestoria.co.uk, one of eight countries we operate in) that would have bankrupted our company.

Ouch. Anybody else have a similar story?

In the meantime, it will be interesting to test the Nestoria experience under OSM, and see how many other sites follow suit.

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Tue
20
Dec

There's no such thing as standing still at property search engine Nestoria. Its Indian operation went live at the end of January, now it announces an important strategic partnerships with the mighty Hindustan Times, something of a behemoth of an English language newspaper in India. (Here's what happens when you click "property".) Congratulations to Nestoria. The developing world... "It's the future", as Nestoria's Ed Freyfogle points out.

20111220nestoria

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Mon
12
Dec

An apocalyptic neo-dark age of inequality-fueled riots, theft and depression might be just around the corner, but it's not stopping Brits from surfing particulars of expensive properties online until their wrists ache and their eyesight's impaired. According to Rightmove, a £36m St John's Wood mansion and a dream property in Mayfair with a £48m price tag are two of the top three most viewed properties on the website. (The other one was an equestrian place in the 'burbs.) But David Tucker, whose company developed the St John's Wood house, is nobody's fool:

Despite the popularity of property porn, Mr Tucker thought serious buyers would arrange a viewing in person. "No one is going to spend £36 million just from the internet," he said.

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Fri
28
Oct

Apparently, the number of monthly UK searches on the property portals for unmodernised properties is in excess of 40 million. You know what? Somebody ought to build a website just for doer uppers.

20111028unmodernised

And it's called Unmodernised.com. It's been developed by a property investor/developer, with an eye on the developer's needs (ticker-tape links to the latest properties as they go up, news, information, project management software), and it currently features around three thousand properties, which isn't a bad start. Check it out. Let us know what you think.

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Wed
05
Oct

Yes, according to Wooster & Stock estate agents of South London. They point to funding campaigns on Facebook and information about neighbourhoods on Twitter as examples of how areas are being boosted by online chat. More here.

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Tue
04
Oct

20111003luckywu 1

LuckyWu.com... it sounds (and looks) like a dodgy gambling site but actually it's the first specialist portal marketing London property to Chinese buyers. It's already shifted a £1m+ property. More here.

 

Tue
20
Sep

The Telegraph is making much of Primelocation research showing 41 towns with a higher proportion of properties valued at £1m or above than London. Leading the way is Beaconsfield (47%), followed by Virginia Water (44%). The article uses the research to rubbish the LibDem mansion tax proposals. It looks like a bit of opportunism timed to coincide with the conference, though, since this is fairly old data. What also isn't clear is whether the data set is simply made up of properties currently for sale, which would tell us very little given current levels of supply. It is interesting, however, to notice how the top slots are all taken by commuter towns, contradicting - for what it's worth - this recent report courtesy of the Halifax. For better reasons to rubbish a mansion tax, go here.

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Wed
31
Aug

20110831Kevin McCloud

Kevin McCloud will be taking questions about this October's Grand Designs Live show tomorrow at 4pm (UK). If you've questions you want to ask, start tweeting now to @GDLive_2011.

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Thu
11
Aug

Some recent praise for the Rat and Mouse...

Big thanks to Channel 4's 4homes for including us in their "Favourite Househunting Blogs":

201108114homes

And to Quickmovenow.com, for giving us top spot in their "Top 20 Property Blogs on the Web". (Check out an interesting list, including some great US sites.)

Thanks, too, to Giles Milner, who became our 1,000th Twitter follower. Go and encourage Giles to tweet here. Follow the Rat here.

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Nothing to do with a riot... Zoopla's newly updated heat maps are available, illustrating average property price hotspots. Informative and addictive.

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“Are the riots affecting where you live?” Rightmove asked its 13,600 followers as buildings burned, shops were looted and families feared for the safety of their children. “What do you think will happen to house prices in those areas?”

According to City AM, Rightmove issued a swift apology in the face of a barrage of contemptuous responses, only to see its share price rise in the face of falling markets.

Follow Rightmove on Twitter here. Follow the Rat and Mouse here.

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Fri
22
Jul

Home Bunch - a fun American interior design blog written by somebody who proves not all bloggers have to look like this - has featured a London property in its "Cool or Fool?" Friday feature (in which readers get to slug it out over an interior design "statement"). It's a remarkable home, and the way lovely Luciane found it leads to another interesting website. First off, the place looks like this:

20110722cool fool

There are a whole load more pictures over on her blog. Okay, to many of you I'm sure this looks like an unusual room; over at the Rat and Mouse HQ, we're just wondering where the rest of the restrain furniture's kept, because... one sexual ragdoll at a time? That's so 2010.

Luciane discovered the property at 1st-Option, a completely addictive site aimed at location scouts. It's packed with fascinating properties, many of them in London, and I suggest you head there right now if you've some time to waste.

Incidentally, the above property is "Wonderland", and it's in NW3.

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It's a "campaign", no less, according to Rightmove's Miles Shipside, and it's aimed at...

... educating the millions of current and prospective sellers who visit Rightmove each month about the realities of the current property market.

In other words hoover your home, price it at a discount and employ an estate agent who knows what they're doing. The campaign follows figures showing that 70% of properties brought to the market in the first half of the year are still unsold. Here's a little film:

More here.

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Wed
13
Jul

20110713Google Real Estate

Remember how Google was at one point dabbling in the property search game? They've pretty much given up on that now, and so presumably took their eyes off the game long enough for one quick-thinking property blogger in the US to buy this.

[via Curbed]

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Mon
23
May

In Deed

A new launch by Rightmove founder and former Countrywide CEO Harry Hill sees the property business entrepreneur take on the solicitors, with an interesting online conveyancing product aimed at making the legal side of a property purchase more transparent. It's called in-deed, and it looks something like a digital UI between you (the buyer) and your solicitor... a place to go to get access to a vetted property lawyer, and then an interface where you're guaranteed updates at least every two days and clear communication showing exactly where you are in the process. There's also a price guarantee... they'll stick to the quote, and work on a no-completion, no-fee basis, which is significant in the property market's current climate. Sounds interesting. (Phil Spencer's set to promote the service, when it starts a serious advertising campaign in the autumn.)

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Wed
27
Apr

 

20110427ideas factory

We love the design, but disagree strongly with the assertion that there's no such thing as a bad idea. Oh yes there is.

Anyway, this is how it works. You submit ideas to improve Rightmove. They publish them. You vote on them. Five people win iPads. Rightmove gets tons of publicity and some free focus group feedback. Go here for the details.

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Fri
01
Apr

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank House Hop for their support. House Hop is an online private sales website that reaches more than three million house hunters a month... wait for this... for free. It funds itself through the sale of third-party services, and delivers a proportion of profits to charity. What's more, it's a listing service, not an estate agency, so in theory it should be possible to use House Hop and your high street agent, without risking paying fees to your agent after achieving a private sale. So what have you got to lose?

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Fri
18
Mar

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank House Hop for their support. House Hop is an online private sales website that reaches more than three million house hunters a month... wait for this... for free. It funds itself through the sale of third-party services, and delivers a proportion of profits to charity. What's more, it's a listing service, not an estate agency, so in theory it should be possible to use House Hop and your high street agent, without risking paying fees to your agent after achieving a private sale. So what have you got to lose?

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Tue
08
Mar

Just so you know...

Phil Spencer

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According to the Telegraph, they're partnering up with BT to equip all listings with details of a property's fastest possible DSL speed, following research that suggests the growing importance of a good, robust, speedy broadband connection among house-hunters. Of course, property's for the long haul, and broadband speeds are improving all the time (fibre-optic is apparently being rolled out at 80,000 homes a week), so choosing one home over another for its connection might not be wise.

Oddly, the Telegraph piece opens with "Rightmove is teaming up with BT", but also features a Rightmove spokesperson quoted thus: "we are not currently in any form of partnership with BT" and "BT declined to comment". Watch this space, obviously... but our guess is this may turn out more like a BT sponsorship box ("BT could provide broadband to this property at....").

Tue
01
Mar

Chulmleigh2

... is the question being asked over at Mumsnet about this four-bedroom house in Chulmleigh, Devon. Among the comments:

not a chance would i live there!!!

Definitely gave me a chill when I looked through the pics.

brr, very creepy. it's just the kind of house i'd expect to see yvette fielding screeching around in ghost hunters

Interestingly, it used to be a police station. I wonder if the owners know it's giving mums the creeps?

Chulmleigh

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Wed
23
Feb

Rankdesk2 4An interesting start-up by LSE fellow Savvas Verdis, Rankdesk ranks London's top ten properties submitted by agents for investment potential (based on its own "RQI Method" parameters - proximity to transport, parking, outdoor space, facilities etc for "Q"uality; price, yield, appreciations etc for "I"nvestment). You can access the top ten for free here, sign up (for free) to access a further 90, and a couple of sample full-length reviews. Paid services include on-demand reviews of properties submitted by you but not yet on the site. Interesting? Definitely... although the RQI methodology looks very like common sense and if you're not asking these questions of properties already you probably shouldn't be thinking about investment. It looks like some investors are already paying attention though, the number one property - a three bedroom place in SW7 - has gone under offer. What's next on the list? This five-bedroom £2.95m terraced house in Holland Park.

Rankdesk2

It's a good idea, and pretty addictive. As someone who doesn't find it easy pronouncing my "r"s, though, I'm worried about that name.

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Wed
16
Feb

Here's a new Twitter account demonstrating the dangerous negative power of anonymous online micro-blogging. @hatefoxtons began tweeting a few days ago, and is already stirring up the kind of negative commentary no brand needs. Ignoring, for the time being, whether Foxtons deserves to be singled out like this, it's a good demonstration of how anonymity, unaccountability and the power of reach can spell trouble for a brand.

[via Michael Day]

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Wed
02
Feb

I only didn't mention Private Finance's Melanie Bien by name in the title because it seemed unfair to suggest this was a two-sided hemline spat, and thus give the impression that two professional women were spatting over clothes when the subject should have been mortgages. The spat was pretty one-sided. This is how Bien began her day:

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The show was BBC Breakfast. And Allsopp was watching:

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Unfortunate. And the curse of new media... the ease with which it's possible to throw personal comments into the digital soup and forget they're likely to reemerge on somebody's spoon:

Bien2.jpg

By mid-day, #hemlinegate wasn't trending, but it did have a couple of mentions:

hemlinegate.jpg

But now - it's made the mortgage news. All-in-all, not Kirstie's finest hour. #hardtotakeherseriously

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Mon
31
Jan

... who continue their bid for world property search domination. Today, they're in India (in addition to Australia, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy).

Nestoria_India.jpg

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Thu
27
Jan

We asked Ed Freyfogle, founder of innovative and fast-growing independent property search engine Nestoria, what he makes of Google's swift exit.

I give Google lots of credit for admitting it wasn't working. For us, this is yet another validaiton that the free to list model is exceptionally difficult (see also Globrix, who had all the backing of News Corp). The free model means you'll be spammed, get expired and fake listings, which are bad for users. And because you're not earning any money, it's hard to justify investing in the service.

I believe Google made things worst with the way they entered the market in Australia. First, they had no detail pages, then they suddenly added them. So it was unclear what the service was. A search engine? Or a portal? Likewise there was the typical Google lack of clarity on how deduplication would work. In short, it could have been executed better.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure portals should crack out the champagne just yet. Google will not give up on local services. They're investing in that space like crazy. More importantly, they will continue to target estate agent marketing budgets with Adwords. Increasingly there is a tension between portals (especially market leaders who push prices higher year after year) and estate agents who have over the last years invested in their own online presence. These agents want the user to visit their site, not the portal. Adwords is one tool these agents can use, Although we're also seeing several new players enter the market to address this discrepancy, Adwords is one tool these agents can use.

Visit the Nestoria blog here. Follow Ed on Twitter here.

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It's an interesting and unexpected development. After launching the property search facility as part of its maps offering in America in the summer of 2009 (and then expanding it to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and, of course, the UK), Google announced yesterday that it was throwing in the towel. This, from the Earth and Maps team blog:

In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real estate websites, and the infrastructure challenge posed by the impending retirement of the Google Base API (used by listing providers to submit listings), we’ve decided to discontinue the real estate feature within Google Maps on February 10, 2011.

When Google announced it's move into the property space, the fear - among UK property search business and portals - was tangible. What the search giant had given them (the mapping API so many of the business relied on), it could take away and use itself, along with the years-worth of innovation by both smaller startups and property portal giants. Its power, too, as the web's most significant controller of online advertising posed a threat to established businesses. So why the abrupt change of direction? Perhaps they've realised that providing a decent service is as much about property as it is about search, and that's an area in which they're just not that interested. Google's official statement seems to both point to conservative users reluctant to shift from brand name portals, and admit the web's master-innovator has been out-innovated by existing property search tools.

Google: are maps best for property search? [July 21, 2010]
Google Property just launched [June 16, 2010]

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Fri
21
Jan

Award.jpg

Nice to end the week on a high... so a big thanks to Simply Business for including the Rat and Mouse in its list of (deep breath) Simply Business Landlord & Property Website Award winners. It's a good list, with some very absorbing websites (if you're into the property thing), so I wholeheartedly urge you to go and check them out. Thanks again, Simply Business.

A bit of housekeeping... to those of you who've emailed, I'm aware there are comments waiting to be approved. I've spent much of the week working out of a hotel and in and out of meetings and I've managed to get a bit behind. The Rat and Mouse is unfortunately the target of entire supermarket shelves of comment spam, much of which - but not all - is filtered out. The problem is that the good comments are often filtered, too, so I have to dig through an awful lot of pill ads before I get to them. My project for the weekend.

Speaking of which. Have a mighty mighty one.

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Wed
19
Jan

An interesting new site using data from property search engine Nestoria. It gives you graphs showing average prices, rents, yields and their movements, plus available properties, compared to the average and given thumbs up and down depending on asking price and perceived value. Obviously, it's something of a blunt instrument in terms of individual asking prices, but as a tool for quickly discovering micro-geographical price trends in different parts of London it's useful. Go here.

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A website where you can rate and review UK cities, towns, villages and suburbs, and where you can promote or talk about, well, just about anything related to your place.

It's in beta, it's not being promoted, but it could turn out to be a potentially interesting adjunct to the UK's biggest property portal. In some ways, it looks like a kind of Facebook for places, with locations getting their own noticeboards, walls. A fun feature... a house price game (a kind of The Price Is Right) for each location, in which you can vote higher or lower in competition with Miles Shipside. They're relying on you, though, because this type of web property is only ever as interesting as the content provided by its users.

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Wed
12
Jan

An interesting piece, here, by Daniel Hare at the EstateAgencyAcademy blog, about Rightmove's decision to include a Facebook "Like" button on each property page. The idea is that if you, er, like the property, you click the button, and the property begins to accrue "Likes". Interestingly, Rightmove has opted for anonymous "Likes", so you can't see exactly who has expressed enthusiasm for some bricks and mortar. But will it sell houses? Hare draws on the example of a large country house currently marketed by Hamptons, which has garnered 651 "Likes".

If you work on the basis of an average of 150 friends per Facebook user, that means this property has probably been shown on Facebook nearly 100,000 times (Country Life's readership is estimated at 215,000). When you consider that there is no direct cost associated with this level of exposure on Facebook wheras even a small ad in Country Life is upwards of £400, you can start to understand the potential value here too.

Is the property being shown to the right people though? Hare points to the geographical connection between groups of Facebook friends (although my own are quite geographically disparate). But are they looking to buy houses?

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Fri
31
Dec

At the beginning of last year, 1000wattConsulting - a new media consultancy with a specialist interest in the real estate sector - launched the 1000wattIndex, a useful compendium of companies working in the space where the US real estate meets technology. A year later, they're going global. Introducing the Global Real Estate Index, now including Europe, Canada and Asia Pacific. Click the "Submit a Company" button if you'd like to be listed.

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Tue
07
Dec

The perfect gift for Christmas.

20101207software.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's being marketed as estate agency software ("brand-new, unused, unopened and undamaged item"), with the ability to feed your properties to the major portals, but a closer look reveals it's actually "cloud based", in other words an online service. Ninety-nine pence (unless you're dumb enough to get into a bidding war) pays for the first three-months of hosting, after that it's £10 a month. It's called EAS (which I assume stands for "estate agency software"), and I think it's here. Unorthodox ebay listing here.

[via Pete Fenwick]

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Fri
12
Nov

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Mon
01
Nov

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Mon
25
Oct

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
22
Oct

Congratulations to our sponsors, Primelocation, who come out rather well.

The Rolls-Royce of property websites, primelocation.com was set up with the high-end market in mind. Like the glossy magazines that support the luxury sector, the emphasis on this site is on big seductive photos that are easy to scroll through.

Is that true, though? Is Primelocation still luxury-heavy?

The guys at innovative property search engine, Nestoria, must feel a little sore:

You can't register with Nestoria so if you want to find out whether new properties have been added, you'll have to keep revisiting the site and running your search again.

That's simply not true. There are buttons on the top right of the screen, giving a host of options, from emails to rss.

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Mon
18
Oct

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
08
Oct

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
01
Oct

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Mon
20
Sep

As recently as June, the talk was of Rightmove’s impending decline. Google had just dipped one of its giant toes into the UK property search market, sending a wall of water over the established portals. Even Rightmove’s managing director, Ed Williams, was shedding stock as fast as he could, reportedly selling £8 million of shares (almost half his holding). 'A time to short Rightmove?' pondered more than one analyst. Rightmove’s share price was 664p. Before that, in February, Investors Chronicle had described Rightmove’s business as 'old hat', and marked it 'sell'… at 535p. The punch line? A few days ago, Rightmove shares peaked at 740p on takeover rumours.

Our publisher looks at Rightmove's recently unstoppable share price, in his guest column for Citywire.

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Fri
03
Sep

It's called Fabric Property (is that weird? I think that's a bit weird... but it's named after Fabric magazine, which you'll know if you live in a favoured postcode) and it's run by a consortium of London agents, including some big names... Savills, Winkworth, Chesterton, Hamptons, and high-end boutiques Beauchamp Estates, Glentree Estate and a host of others you can see by heading to the site and watching the flash window on the front page. The emphasis here will be luxury property, lifestyle, video particulars.

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Wed
25
Aug

The right time to offset [Daily Mail]
Complicated house swap [Guardian]
More London properties for sale [This Is London]
The new Zoopla TV ad [YouTube]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Fri
20
Aug

Let's end the week by giving thanks... a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Wed
21
Jul

One expert thinks not:

Also, the most important component of real estate search is not the location but photos. In my mind, it makes more sense for Google’s real estate efforts to be housed within Google Images rather than Google Maps. Something more like PicClick (a visual search engine for products) or Like.com are more innovative in user interface design.

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Wed
14
Jul

Or, rather, they've bought Cainea Analytics, the company behind the Land Registry completion price data analysis site Mouseprice. This makes Mouseprice stablemates with Primelocation and FindaProperty. Congratulations, Selwyn. More here.

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Mon
05
Jul

Let's start the week by giving thanks... a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
18
Jun

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

And don't forget Primelocation's very popular iPad app, which offers just about the most fun it's possible to have searching for a property with your clothes on.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Wed
16
Jun

The long-awaited, much-discussed, widely-feared Google Maps-integrated property search service launched, with zero fanfare, this morning, catching pretty much everyone by surprise. Not really aimed at private sellers, but agents and pre-existing portals with their own linked-up websites, it's already fairly well populated, although - with the bigger portals staying away - it's hard to see how it could be a first port-of-call for a homebuyer. It's a game, now, of data v exposure. Rightmove, Primelocation & co will know that it's all about the data. Google will argue it's all about the exposure, and when it comes to search, Google's king. Here's the Google page. If you want to give it a whirl, go to Google Maps and type in "property" plus a location.

20100616GoogleProperty.jpg

 

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Wed
09
Jun

It's a online property management software for landlords, enabling you to manage properties, communicate with tenants and other property professionals, track payments, maintain documents etc... all in one place and accessible from any computer. We like... but it's strictly beta right now, so they're looking for testers. Interested? Sign up or ask questions here. Tell them the Rat and Mouse sent you.

Uk Online Property Management For Landlords – Manage, Connect And Share With Your Tenants Online - Rentbuddy

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Mon
07
Jun

20100607Zoopla Ebay

Property listings portal Zoopla has announced new partnerships with eBay and Gumtree. The deal, they say, is exclusive, and will include, on eBay, all the latest sale and rental properties, while the Gumtree deal will be limited to properties that are for sale. The listings will be featured in special "channels", which will direct enquiries to agents via branded emails or redirect numbers (in the same way the portal operates elsewhere). It's innovative and shows willing, but I'm not convinced the claim the deals will give Zoopla agents "the opportunity of being seen by over 73% of all UK website users monthly, a far higher figure than any other portal" is meaningful. Unless you consider someone bidding for vintage sunglasses or Pokemon cards who stumbles across a property listing a useful lead; or that there are Internet users who know how to access eBay, but not Rightmove, Primelocation or Zoopla. There's a matter of profile, too. Will owners of more expensive properties welcome a Gumtree listing?

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Fri
28
May

Mmm... it spins like a digital property Rolodex.

More here.

STOP PRESS We're told the Primelocation app is currently number one in the free apps Lifestyle category.

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Mon
24
May

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. And remember, Primelocation isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, it's about using a fast, refine-able and user-friendly search tool, too. Which is about to get faster, more refine-able and more user-friendly. Primelocation want you to know there's an iPad app on the way. Watch this space.

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Fri
14
May

Yesterday, Rightmove launched a desktop property search application, Rightmove Desktop. It runs on Adobe's smart Air platform and it's fun. Watch a demo and - if you like - download for Mac or PC here. But what's the point? asks The Modern Estate Agent, you can pretty much squeeze all of its functionality out of a visit to the homepage. I think its ability to interrupt your workday with regular updates, should new properties, meeting your description, become available is interesting. But I wonder if its main function - from Rightmove's point of view - is to encourage house-hunters to take their search out of the browser, where they might be just as likely to punch in the addresses of some very compelling rivals, and into a controlled Rightmove-only environment.

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Tue
27
Apr

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
23
Apr

Remember how PropertyLive came about? A group of National Association of Estate Agents members, close to throwing their toys out of the pram at Rightmove listings charges during the decimated property market, decided they indeed held the trump card... if they owned the listings, they owned the data upon Rightmove and co. relied, and so why not launch their own NAEA listings portal? PropertyLive eventually appeared under the management of umbrella organisation the National Federation of Property Professionals. But now - according to this - the NFoPP have realised running a big portal and advertising it costs money, and a letter is apparently circulating mooting charges, of around £840 a year per office. Imagine how well that's going down.

Never, in the field of property search, were so many properties listed so quickly by so few [October 23, 2008]
What's the story with PropertyLive? [October 14, 2008]

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Fri
16
Apr

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Mon
12
Apr

Thanks to a Rat and Mouse reader for the tip, here. Is it us, or is there a complete and total absence of Foxtons properties on Rightmove right now, compared to a plethora on Primelocation? I have to admit, I haven't used Rightmove in a while, and so can't be sure how long this has been the case, but I notice that the Foxtons website (under "Online marketing") claims to advertise on Rightmove. What's the story?

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Fri
05
Mar

It's time to say a bit "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com, for both continuing to support this labour of love, and providing a very useful property search function to the Rat and Mouse. We're hope you're using the box (top right) and coming here to get your daily dose of property news, gossip and opinion, before searching for bricks-and-mortar.

Plans for the Rat and Mouse in the coming weeks? More guest blogs, from people either working right on the property market front line, or those with the data/access to provide Rat and Mouse readers with interesting and original views and offers. If you think that might be you, please get in touch.

In fact, why don't you just get in touch. Either by email, or chat with the Rat on Twitter, with any ideas for what you'd like to read this spring. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

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Thu
18
Feb

Google property listings arrived early down under. British estate agents and property portals might be interested in this sneak peak at what might be heading our way.

In the US... Google moves into mortgage comparison {February 5, 2010]
Can Google steal the UK's property search business? [December 3, 2009]

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Thu
04
Feb

A big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Mon
01
Feb

20100201Chainfree

And it's called... ChainFree.com. According to this it's a Spicerhaart production, and properties featured are a combination of repos, new builds and housing assocation stock, and have been valued by two independent surveyors.

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Thu
28
Jan

20100128Propertysleuth3
It's a new (to us, anyway) and interesting web service for estate agents to keep a track on their market share and performance in a specific postcode, or to help the rest of us choose a dominant and high-performing agent. Register (free), stick a (full) postcode into PropertySleuth and you'll be rewarded with a colourful graph showing agent market share. The data can be drilled down to specific property types, and will show new instructions, price reductions, conversion rates and more. I've found a few teething troubles (plenty of "sorry, no data to display") and if you've a choice of Safari and Firefox on a Mac, I'd definitely point you toward Firefox (I'm not getting the buttons on the left to work on Safari)... but there's time for improvement. The idea's good, and the design's solid.

20100128Propertysleuth1

[via Property Hawk]

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Tue
26
Jan

I hate doing this (I've never canvassed for votes before), but since we find ourselves nominated for a blog award, we'd really hate to end up being embarrassed because we started off trying to look call. If the Rat and Mouse's daily efforts for the last five years have brought you any pleasure at all... here's your chance to say thanks. Go here, and click in the box that says Rat and Mouse, and press "vote". It's super-quick, it's free, it's anonymous. Many thanks. - B x

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Fri
22
Jan

First of all, a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

In the meantime, have a great weekend, and don't believe everything the statisticians tell you.

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Tue
05
Jan

The idea is that agents who use the company's services - HIP providers, conveyancing, financial etc - will get a free listing. They say here that profits generated by the portal will be reinvested in promotion for the site. "Profits generated by the portal"? Does that mean ads? Google ads? It'll be here shortly. More commentary, here.

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Fri
18
Dec

This:

Okay, this is pretty amazing... a kind of combination of old-fashioned 360 degree tour and, err, old-fashioned streaming video. Combine the two, it's new. Could it be a technology that will appeal to estate agents? Joel at Future of Real Estate Marketing thinks so:

I kind of like this. It puts me in control of the watching experience in my browser. Something I find natural with the lean-forward nature of the web. And I like the idea of being able to virtual “drive” down a street and see a home from my browser.

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Thu
03
Dec

All the chatter, today, is about this... reports of Google cozying up to UK estate agents with a view to launching property search in the UK. Could it happen? It's happened in Australia, so yes. Should Rightmove, Primelocation et al panic? No. Google knows the search game better than anybody else, sure, but property search is a very specialised business, subtly culturally different from country to country (and particularly culturally "different" here in the UK). For it to work, it needs the support of the larger estate agents, and it's hard to imagine UK agents - having waited out an agonizing slump and ready to capitalize on what might turn out to be a recovery - pulling their listings off tried-and-tested high-traffic portals to get behind newcomers-in-cargo-pants. That's certainly not what's happened in Australia.

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Tue
01
Dec

Yesterday, property search engine Globrix parted company with New International, buying back its 50% stake after being partners for almost two years, and leaving the company entirely in founders Dan Lee and Ian Parry's hands. The engine will continue to power property search for the Times. Hats off to fellow property blogger Renthusiast who kind of saw this coming back in August... although he went one step further, and suggested Zoopla might be Globrix's next buyers. We'll wait and see.

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Fri
06
Nov

A new week, and about time I said a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

Last month the Rat and Mouse broke all previous records with a new traffic high. If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
30
Oct

A new week, and about time I said a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

Last month the Rat and Mouse broke all previous records with a new traffic high. If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Thu
29
Oct

I know, didn't the National Association of Estate Agents launch a Rightmove-killer almost exactly a year ago? And yet... the big guns Rightmove and Primelocation and independent search engines such as Nestoria all live on.

Now, according to an Estate Agent Today scoop:

A new portal run by agents for agents is to launch on Monday. Radar Homes is aimed at breaking Rightmove’s virtual monopoly, and is already being hailed as the potential internet breakthrough that agents have been waiting for.

Radar (not, it must be stressed, an NAEA product) is being launched by three NAEA members (who clearly can't be satisfied by the NAEA's PropertyLive) Mark Flynn, Julian Partridge and Jon Williams, and the business model consists of charging agents a one-off £100 joining fee (rising to £200 shortly), for which they get a share in the company. Then £45 per month per branch pays for unlimited property listings. But the success/failure of the portal will ultimately depend on how attractive it is for the end-user, not the agents, and property portals and search engines have both come along a lot recently. The bar is set high. According to EAT, the engine will be based on technology provided by (slow-loading and slightly hit-and-miss, in our experience) online property dating service HomeSwapShop.

Radar Homes launches on Monday.

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Fri
23
Oct

In the US, an honest approach to advertising.

[via Future of Real Estate Marketing]

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Fri
16
Oct

A new week, and about time I said a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

Last month the Rat and Mouse broke all previous records with a new traffic high. If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Thu
15
Oct

Thanks to the Twitter friend who sent me this... the Times's very entertaining guide to the worst carparking spaces in the country. Talking of Twitter, here's ten Twitter tips for property professionals, courtesy of Hip-Consultant.co.uk. (Tweet to the Rat, here.)

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Wed
14
Oct

Because they've an itch that needs scratching. (Hmmm.)

Uber-engine Nestoria are planning to open up in Australia. But first they need the right help. If you're the one, and fancy joining the team, let them know.

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Mon
12
Oct

A new week, and about time I said a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

Last month the Rat and Mouse broke all previous records with a new traffic high. If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Tue
29
Sep

We'd be interested to hear from a spokesperson for Wow Property, whom we wrote about back here. They appear to have - er - vanished, although their listings remain on major portals. We're just wondering, because... well... this:

20090930Wow

Mischief? Or what? Feel free to use us to put the record straight.

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Mon
28
Sep

I'm packing up for the weekend, but before I go I want to say a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Fri
18
Sep

I'm packing up for the weekend, but before I go I want to say a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Tue
15
Sep

Remember property search engine, Extate? Those with long memories might remember it becoming Dothomes back in November 2007, and since then... it's been involved in an attempt to take on the US real estate listings search market too. You didn't know? Exactly. Now - according to Future Of Real Estate Marketing - it's for sale.

The reason for the sale? From the founder directly, “real estate was never our cup of tea…”

Huh? Anyway... private auction, concluding October 1. Website, here.

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Fri
11
Sep

I'm packing up for the weekend, but before I go I want to say a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Thu
10
Sep

We promised SpareRoom we'd remind our readers... there's a free and ongoing competition here, giving any flat or house-sharer the chance to win a month's rent. The deadline's September 30 for October's rent... read the small print for ways to earn extra entries.

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Fri
04
Sep

The apparent up-turn in - at least - interest in residential property seems to be feeding through to the portals. Or is it that old-fashioned foot traffic to estate agents has just, finally, ended?

Australia’s Realestate.com.au has reportedly broken the 5 million monthly unique user mark while Zoopla in the UK has surpassed 1 million users for the first time in its history. To add to the mix Digital Property Group which owns Primelocation.com and FindaProperty.com in the UK is reporting 4.6 million monthly unique.

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Fri
21
Aug

August 10 apparently saw the most Rightmove visitor's in the site's nine-year history. More here.

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Fri
24
Jul

I'm packing up for the weekend, but before I go I want to say a big "thank you" to our sponsor, Primelocation.com. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

Next week, the Rat and Mouse will be trying something new, so be sure to come back on Monday to see what's happening. Have a great weekend.

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Mon
06
Jul

Those of a nervous disposition, look away now.

We're lucky enough to have the strength of our content recognised by Google. So when you search buy-to-let our buy-to-let guide is the top result. So if we measure the amount of people clicking on it, we can gauge British appetite for investing in property.

Ironically, the conclusion - the bubble's not deflated yet - is probably spot on. But extracting that conclusion from the above data? How do you explain this?

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Wed
01
Jul

That's the rumour. And it makes sense. Zoopla began as an information resource, but moved into the portal racket relatively recently. They recently raised cash, and how better to spend it than on an established portal that would bring them credibility and traffic?

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Fri
26
Jun

Before we go... a big thanks to our sponsors for continuing to support the Rat and Mouse. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links. An example? Go here to search up-to-date real life completion prices for UK property. Snoop on your neighbours. Do the maths before making an offer. It's useful, it's free... you need to register, but it's quick and easy. If you've feedback, let us know and we'll pass it on with pleasure.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

That's all the housekeeping for now. Be yourself this weekend.

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Fri
19
Jun

Nestoria's Ed Freyfogle chats to Renthusiast on third b'day (Nestoria's, not Freyfogle's, or Renthusiast's) [Renthusiast]
Disappointing lending figures [BBC]
Yorkshire Tea box cottage for sale [Telegraph]
Exclusion in the housing market [Times]
Job done on London architecture, Prince turns to rural house prices [Google]
Loving garages [Daily Mail]

The Rat and Mouse - London's property blog since 2005

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Tue
16
Jun

A big thanks to our sponsors for continuing to support the Rat and Mouse. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links.

For instance: this - on the winner of Channel 4's I Own Britain's Best Home - or, more to the point, I Used To Own Britain's Best Home, because, as Primelocation has discovered, the Norfolk eco-mansion is for sale.

If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.

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Wed
10
Jun

Developer in hot water for bulldozing historic Wanstead building [This Is London]
Glenda Jackson: Social housing policy can beat the Fascists [Independent]
Tweetlister: tweets your property [Tweetlister]
Footballers who lose on property [Realestateweb]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Fri
05
Jun

He's Marsh and Parsons MD - Peter Rollings - the latest to take the screen.

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Thu
04
Jun

20090604Rosalindrenshaw Estate Agent Today... it may sound like the start of Have I Got News For You missing word round, but everybody who reads it - including the entire Rat and Mouse staff, religiously - knows that it's one of the most incisive and interesting property publications anywhere. Which is due, largely, to its experienced and talented editorial director Rosalind Renshaw. We were delighted when she agreed to talk with us.

So, you’re at a party, and somebody asks you what you do for a living. Does your answer tend to result in an anti-agent tirade? How do you deal with this?

Yes, I do often get anti-agent tirades, and not necessarily at parties. A few years ago, a journalist on the Daily Mail, who was at that time covering property, literally turned on his heels when I mounted a defence for agents. It is very difficult to persuade people that there are honest, nice and professional agents out there – and that they’re in the majority.

Could you tell me a bit about the background to EAT? Were you its launch editor?

Yes, I was the launch editor and never has there been such a rapid launch. I attended just one planning meeting where we all agreed we’d go for it – which we duly did about three weeks later – and threw around some ideas. It was partly driven by the fact that two weeks or even a month was too long to deliver news, and partly by the feeling that suppliers o the industry, struggling in the recession, might perhaps be interested in a fresh and much more cost-effective environment.Other than Rat and Mouse, which is largely London-oriented, there was not at that time a purely online national news service for estate agents. Yet the print magazines were clearly having a hard time, with advertising revenues plunging and production costs remaining high. Having experienced the recession of the early nineties, when I was working as a property editor and saw four of my five titles fold within the same week, I knew that traditional trade print mag
azines, which are wholly reliant on advertising revenue, were in for a prolonged and very savage ride. The launch was very exciting, as it rapidly became clear we had a winner. We made all the mistakes we would have made in a soft launch in public. We also played around with frequency, trying it daily, once a week and twice a week, before settling into a three-day week format (although the website can be accessed daily, and there is usually something new on it).

And this was after a long period at The Negotiator? What encouraged you to make the move?

The credit crunch and the desire to break new ground.

Who owns EAT? How does it make money?

EAT is owned by a tiny publishing group called Angels who are young and entrepreneurial, and busy bringing out other ‘Today’ titles. The idea is that they make (or at least, will make) money by offering a range of online marketing and advertising solutions. We don’t ever plan to charge subscriptions and we will always keep the editorial side of the site totally independent from advertising.

How many people write for the website?

I have as many staff as I did when I was at The Negotiator – me!

The rest of the interview, including Rosalind's favourite estate agency joke, here.

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Fri
29
May

Estate Agent Today is first out of the gate with news of an announcement by Australian digital publishers REA Group that it will be "reviewing" its UK operations. REA's UK operations are led by property portal pioneer and still currently third biggest property search name Propertyfinder, which is co-owned by News International.

The announcement about Propertyfinder comes after the recent closure of Propertyfinder’s print magazines, and amid rumours of an attempted sale of Propertyfinder to its main rivals, Rightmove, and the Daily Mail which publishes four portals including FindaProperty and Primelocation.

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Fri
08
May

It's up there... see it? Top right... just underneath the very funny faux-dictionary definition box that explains why the Rat and Mouse is the Rat and Mouse. That clever box allows you to search directly for UK sales and rental and even international property from the comfort of your favourite blog's front page. It's powered by Primelocation.com, who list property from more than 4,000 leading estate agencies, carry a mine of useful information, tips and advice across their portal, and who keep the Rat and Mouse going by kindly sponsoring the website. Thanks to Primelocation. Please use the box.

If your firm is interested in advertising on the Rat and Mouse, or if you've creative ideas about how we might work together, drop me a line.

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Wed
06
May

Ralph Bending is banned from Rightmove and Primelocation, that is, for property descriptions like these:

Lease available for what can only be described as a prime piece of retail crumpet.

Horticulturally minded three bedroom thatched cottage with hall, kitchen/breakfast room with 'boil your nuts off' aga.

The Guardian blog admonishes the portals for sense of humour failure, but I'm not so sure this comedy car-crash offers much to laugh at. Stick to selling houses... leave the jokes to the professionals.

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Fri
01
May

It's up there... see it? Top right... just underneath the very funny faux-dictionary definition box that explains why the Rat and Mouse is the Rat and Mouse. That clever box allows you to search directly for UK sales and rental and even international property from the comfort of your favourite blog's front page. It's powered by Primelocation.com, who list property from more than 4,000 leading estate agencies, carry a mine of useful information, tips and advice across their portal, and who keep the Rat and Mouse going by kindly sponsoring the website. Thanks to Primelocation. Please use the box.

If your firm is interested in advertising on the Rat and Mouse, or if you've creative ideas about how we might work together, drop me a line.

Technorati Tags:

Fri
24
Apr

It's up there... see it? Top right... just underneath the very funny faux-dictionary definition box that explains why the Rat and Mouse is the Rat and Mouse. That clever box allows you to search directly for UK sales and rental and even international property from the comfort of your favourite blog's front page. It's powered by Primelocation.com, who list property from more than 4,000 leading estate agencies, carry a mine of useful information, tips and advice across their portal, and who keep the Rat and Mouse going by kindly sponsoring the website. Thanks to Primelocation. Please use the box.

If your firm is interested in advertising on the Rat and Mouse, or if you've creative ideas about how we might work together, drop me a line.

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Mon
20
Apr

20090420Twitter

Curbed reports on Techcrunch editor Erick Schonfeld's attempts to privately offload his New York condo.

"We also have an ad in the NYT online and Trulia. So far I've gotten more responses from Twitter."

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Fri
17
Apr

Kudos to our sponsors Primelocation.com for combining both Microsoft Virtual Earth's "Bird's Eye" and Google's "Street View", to give two different perspectives on a neighbourhood. Click through to a property from your search results, click local information and maps and then choose from Microsoft's view or Google's, to drill down into the neighbourhood. We like... and we thank Primelocation for continuing to help us bring you the daily London property news headlines and more.

If you want to know more about how you can advertise on the Rat and Mouse, and why it's a great idea, email me here for more information.

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Fri
03
Apr

Kudos to our sponsors Primelocation.com for combining both Microsoft Virtual Earth's "Bird's Eye" and Google's "Street View", to give two different perspectives on a neighbourhood. Click through to a property from your search results, click local information and maps and then choose from Microsoft's view or Google's, to drill down into the neighbourhood. We like... and we thank Primelocation for continuing to help us bring you the daily London property news headlines and more.

If you want to know more about how you can advertise on the Rat and Mouse, and why it's a great idea, email me here for more information.

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Thu
02
Apr

Poor FindaProperty.com have had their name taken in vain... by property rental scammers, no less.

A company is contacting people who are looking for property to rent, usually via another website, and asking them for money for a deposit on a property they are interested in.

The company is acting under the name FindaProperty and refer to themselves as an impartial third party asking for money to be transferred to a Western Union bank account. In most cases they are claiming the landlord is out of the country and FindaProperty is acting on their behalf.

Please be aware that this is nothing to do with FindaProperty.com and seems to be an online property fraud.

Consider yourself warned.

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Fri
27
Mar

Kudos to our sponsors Primelocation.com for now combining both Microsoft Virtual Earth's "Bird's Eye" and Google's "Street View", to give two different perspectives on a neighbourhood. Click through to a property from your search results, click local information and maps and then choose from Microsoft's view or Google's, to drill down into the neighbourhood. We like... and we thank Primelocation for continuing to help us bring you the daily London property news headlines and more.

If you want to know more about how you can advertise on the Rat and Mouse, and why it's a great idea, email me here for more information.

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Fri
20
Mar

Before we go and start ushering in the weekend with the help of a couple of daiquiris and some dips, there's just about time to once again express our gratitude to our sponsor. Primelocation offers buyers and sellers an international reach, and its portal is a mine of useful information, including useful guides for homeowners, landlords and movers. It also, of course, features property from 4,000 leading estate agency firms. The Rat and Mouse needs the support of forward-looking organisations like Primelocation if it's to continue bringing you your daily dish of property news and gossip, so we hope you'll support them in return, by using the search box in the top right hand corner.

If your firm is interested in advertising on the Rat and Mouse, or if you've creative ideas about how we might work together, contact me here.

In the meantime, remember... the economic news might be bad, but it's never the wrong time to slip into something white, and dance with the ladies. Love to love you baby. See you Monday.

Rat and Mouse in the times' top twenty personal finance blogs [January 23, 2009]

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Thu
19
Mar

Hats off to FindaProperty for being one step ahead of the game, and integrating Google Street View from the start. It's nicely integrated, too. Simply click on a London property shown up in your search results and check the list of icons on the right hand side for this:

20090319Findaproperty

Click the Show Street View button and you get an integrated Street View image of the property, from where you can explore the neighbourhood and look for acts of random violence and naked people in windows.

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20090319Ken

It's been a while coming but it's here. If you don't know what it is... a quick rundown. Google dispatched cars to photograph every part of every street from every direction in London. The result? A drag-able 360 degree view of London life. Go to address on Google Maps, click "Street View", then click the little white arrows to find your way around, and drag the screen for different viewing angles. It's addictive, fascinating, possibly a privacy threat, definitely useful for house buyers. Lift the postcode from the online particulars, plug them into Google Maps and then take a virtual tour of the neighbourhood.

20090319Foxtonscoffee

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Tue
03
Mar

I like the Marsh&Parsons web design. I like the way the area guides respond to a click. I like the red/brown colours. Now, they're offering video particulars, too. Here's the first; what do you think? I say... top marks for simplicity, and thank God... no Alan Partridge voiceover.

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Mon
02
Mar

Estate agents killing time this morning might want to avoid flicking on BBC1 for much of the morning. Although they might be heartened to hear the case of the Barnsley homeseller featured on a later episode who, despite claiming to be acting as his own agent, managed to get his property listed on Rightmove. (As you may know, Rightmove is an agents-only listings service... no rep, no listing.) The listing appears to be here... with a modern online agency acting for the vendor. Still, technically, an estate agency.

[via EstateAgentToday]

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Fri
27
Feb

Kudos to Rightmove, who have managed to increase pre-tax profits by an astonishing 40% during one of the worst property market busts in living memory. The money has apparently come from holiday homes and lettings businesses, and a successful rise in fees... despite all the talk, not too long ago, of Rightmove being relegated to history following the launch of the National Association of Estate Agents' own portal. While we're on the subject of the agents, Rightmove also reports that they've evidence that a fifth of all estate agencies went out of business last year. More here.

Rightmove shedding clients [November 14, 2008]
Online "boycott Rightmove" petition fails to find much support [October 29, 2008]

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Tue
24
Feb

There's nothing we like more than a new property price toy, and this one's great. Go and play with the Times's new buy v rent calculator. Slot in a property price, the rental cost of an equivalent property, your potential mortgage deal and savings rate, and an informed view of where the market's going... and it will spit out a graph that shows you how long you'll need to wait before you're saving money by buying rather than renting. Very nice.

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Thu
15
Jan

20090115Where

Fresh out of Lokku Labs (the search experts behind Nestoria) comes Where Can I Live?, a clever property-transport mashup for Londoners still with jobs. You tell it the nearest public transport to your place of work, a maximum commute time and how much you can afford (to spend on property or rental), it gives you some suggested locations where the average property price and commute times meet your criteria, and even leans on the Nestoria data to suggest actual properties. Sweet.

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Fri
19
Dec

When Look4AProperty launched, it launched with the slogan "The UK's Number One Property Search Website". Two years later, it promised to spend £40m on TV advertising. Remember? Now, it's the slightly less chippy "The UK's Property Search Website" (TM, no less), but it's just sold a 25% stake to Dragons' Den star and shrewd operator James Caan. After four years of offering agents for free what Rightmove et al charge for (and banging its head against the undisputed established-brand advantage of the market leaders), it still must believe it has something to offer, above and beyond what the National Association of Estate Agents can offer with its own free service.

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Mon
15
Dec

Primelocation offers buyers and sellers an international reach, and its portal is a mine of useful information, including useful guides for homeowners, landlords and movers. It features property from 4,000 leading estate agency firms, and the voice of Terence Stamp in its ads... which makes me happy. The Rat and Mouse needs the support of forward-looking organisations like Primelocation if it's to continue bringing you your daily dish of property news and gossip, so we hope you'll support them in return, by using the search box in the top right hand corner.

If your firm is interested in advertising on the Rat and Mouse (stop press: 205,000 page impressions in November), contact me here for more information.

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Fri
12
Dec

Connells, the last remaining shareholder of the original Rightmove founders, will be renewing its deal with the portal. Which is a vote of confidence for the troubled Rightmove, sine Connells is a giant collection of agents, including Fox & Sons, Barnard Marcus and Allen & Harris. Less of a vote of confidence is news that it's put its 17% stake in the portal up for auction. I guess liquidity's stretched with volume where it is and - well - £40m could come in handy.

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Thu
20
Nov

Congratulations to property search engine Nestoria... they've just added the Telegraph to their growing roster of search partners.

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Fri
14
Nov
Property website Rightmove today reported that up to 300 estate agents were quitting the service each month as they struggled to survive the property downturn.

To put this into some kind of perspective, that's 300 a month from peak membership last year of 12,600, survivable – at that rate – for, realistically, how long? Three out of every four had either gone bust or removed because they hadn't kept up with fees. This suddenly makes a lot sense. And yet it seems like only yesterday.

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Fri
07
Nov

It's an online agent known as TheDiscountPropertyShop and according to EstateAgentToday it's shifting properties at four times the national rate, by knocking 10% off the asking price and advertising super-wide.

Sellers are required to have their properties valued by an RICS surveyor and then to reduce their prices by a minimum of 10%. They must also purchase a HIP, which the site can arrange. Once the properties are on the market, they receive some of the widest online advertising coverage in the industry, and are listed on all the main property portals.

The agency will deal with serious enquiries only... in other words: no mortgage, no solicitor, no conversation. So what does this mean? Are we 10% off a functioning property market? Or does a functioning estate agent need to be selling 10% below everybody else? It's certainly another win for the online model.

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Thu
06
Nov

Innovative property search engine Zoomf have been picked up by Trinity Mirror... to complement a growing collection of online property sites, including SmartNewHomes.com, email4property.co.uk and Fish4Homes.co.uk. After the rumours, it's official.

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Wed
05
Nov

Urban Spaces' Jacqui Daley tells Zoomf about their new YouTube campaign.

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Mon
03
Nov

It's all about the private sellers. Over at Rightmove, the traditional bastion of estate agency exclusivity, the news is that its overseas division will be accepting listings from private sellers... for two hundred and fifty pounds a month, the same fee it charges agents and developers. Meanwhile, timely part exchange site PartExMyHome is going in the opposite direction... and is moving agent-only. More here.

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Wed
29
Oct

20081029Enormoww

... ENORMO. A better name for an international property search portal? I can't decide. It says less about property, more about size... in a porn name kind of way. And on that subject, can you ever imagine this on the Tube?

[via Future of Real Estate Marketing]

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20081029Rightmove1

It's been around a full week and so far it's managed to find just seven signatures. Perhaps the strength of feeling among estate agents was exaggerated.

20081029Rightmove2

Rightmove's sacking [October 23, 2008]
Is Rightmove calling the agents' bluff? [October 22, 2008]

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Mon
27
Oct

Innovative online estate agency Brightsale have announced a new partnership with north-west group Thornley Groves. How's it working? TG buys a 25% stake in Brightsale; Brightsale lists all its 650 properties, bringing its total listings to more than 900 (note that Brightsale isn't a search engine or portal... it's an agency that exists online).

It's an interesting development - you'd think hardly surprising at a time when agents are struggling to cover astronomical, 20th Century costs in a frail 21st Century market. But British estate agency is famously conservative. Watch this space.

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Thu
23
Oct

A message from the National Association of Estate Agents' Peter Bolton King:

Propertylive.co.uk has already been inundated with enquiries and properties for listing; we anticipate a further upsurge in activity in the coming weeks. I would, however, like to ask that our members remain patient and allow Propertylive.co.uk a few weeks to get up and running. No other property portal has ever attempted to upload such a large number of listings in such a short space of time, therefore we will all see the site evolve substantially over the next few weeks and months.

Is Rightmove calling the agents' bluff? [October 22, 2008]

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Breaking early morning news... Rightmove is apparently waving goodbye to 20% of its workforce, as the housing slump bites, and agents get increasingly antsy with listings charges.

[via Reuters]

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Wed
22
Oct

Do estate agents have a collective "bluff"? In any case, online agents Brightsale suspect it's being pulled, in a missive to members warning them that if they don't like current listings charges, they'll just have to, well, not like them. Meanwhile, the National Association of Estate Agents' own rival, PropertyLive, is finally available. So far (it's a beta), no mashups (other than a simple map), no fancies, just listings. Not many of those, either, but a pop-up tells us they're feverishly loading properties as we speak and, after all, you have to start somewhere.

PropertyLive goes live on Tuesday, bad news for Rightmove [October 10, 2008]
What's the story with PropertyLive? [October 14, 2008]
PropertyLive on track for end of week [October 16, 2008]

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Photos by Seety, map integration by Earthware, as seen on the NovaLoca commercial property search site. and available to residential property agents. I've played with it and it's good. The photography's sharp and it's very easy to navigate. Seety, an Italian company, must have been over here surreptitiously snapping while Google were still planning. Enjoy your walking tour of London.

20081022Seety

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Thu
16
Oct

A Rat and Mouse tipster has forwarded a new message from the NAEA to members. The new portal will, apparently, "be delivered on time at the end of this week". And if it isn't, it will presumably be delivered on time at the end of next week. Interestingly, it's the uptake that has apparently slowed things down, with "2,500 office applications to date". There's a reminder, too, that what we will see at the end of the week is, strictly, a beta. No mention of the pretender.

What's the story with PropertyLive? [October 14, 2008]

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Tue
14
Oct

All our information suggested that today was the day when the National Association of Estate Agents' Rightmove-killer, PropertyLive.co.uk, was due to become functional. As yet - no sign of anything other than a static welcome page... and a bit of visible code on Google:

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There is - however - a cheeky pretender, hovering above in the Google Sponsored Links banner - a PropertyLive.me, planning on catching a ride on the NAEA's coattails, perhaps?

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It's an odd site... seemingly consisting of a handful of Knight Frank listings, and not much else. Where's the plan?

[thanks to the Rat and Mouse reader who alerted us to this]

PropertyLive goes live on Tuesday, bad news for Rightmove [October 10, 2008]
On the NAEA's portal challenge [August 27, 2008]
National Association of Estate Agents "weeks away" from launching Rightmove-style portal [August 18, 2008]

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Buying and selling property might be so 2007, but renting it while you wait-and-see whether you can get a mortgage/find a buyer [delete as appropriate] is bigger than ever. Upad is one of a number of businesses launching to capitalise on the changing face of the UK property market. It's a rental-specific search engine, which matches renters (directly) with landlords. Search criteria include parking, broadband, transport links (via the slightly unsavory-sounding "spec up your pad" menu). Landlords have to pay to list their properties, but they pay once, and the property remains in the database until it finds a tenant. Upad also claim to have deals in place with Gumtree, Nestoria, Zoomf and others. So far, it's London-only, and beta, but worth a look.

20081014Upad

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Fri
10
Oct

We're hearing that October 10 14 is launch day for the National Association of Estate Agents' own property portal, PropertyLive. It couldn't happen at a worse time for market leaders Rightmove. An independent survey conducted by EstateAgentToday suggests that 75% of agents won't be renewing their Rightmove subscription. If this isn't a bluff, it's a very serious development for Rightmove.

On the NAEA's portal challenge [August 27, 2008]
National Association of Estate Agents "weeks away" from launching Rightmove-style portal [August 18, 2008]

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Fri
03
Oct

Inman News founder and publisher Brad Inman will be in London on October 16, and will be attending an informal event, from 6pm, at Mayfair's Windmill Pub. Inman News is the US's number one news source for the real estate industry... a powerful brand, respected voice, and, of course, the organisation behind the twice-yearly Real Estate Connect conference. Any industry professionals interested in meeting Brad (and others from the world of property online) for a beer and a chat should put October 16 in the diary right now. For more about Brad and Inman News, read Nestoria's interview here.

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Wed
03
Sep
So all is good in real estate’s Second Life at least? Not necessarily. In an eerie anticipation of offline troubles, Second Life began 2008 with a bank run. Enterprising individuals had established banks in Second Life, luring players to deposit money in virtual accounts in exchange for promises of rates to beat those in the real world. When many failed to make good, Linden Labs responded to complaints by shutting the entire banking sector down. Virtual queues formed outside virtual banks, virtual 'no-withdrawal' notices were posted on virtual ATMs. Real money – and nobody seems at all sure as yet how much – has really been lost.

Our publishers looks at property in Second Life, in his weekly guest column for Citywire.

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Wed
27
Aug
Recently news of a property portal launch, scheduled for autumn and masterminded by none other than the National Association of Estate Agents, has not only dented Rightmove’s share price but the confidence of an entire sector. But with Web 2.0 technology cheap and the Google-mapping experience tested on numerous other property search sites, wasn’t something like this inevitable? Weren’t our wily estate agents always going to opt for their own, free solution rather than pay for somebody else’s?

Our publisher, on Rightmove, the National Association of Estate Agents, and the rest of the competition for clicks, in his weekly guest column, over at Citywire.

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Fri
22
Aug

And on the subject of branching out, news reaches us that Nestoria's now in Germany, too... not long after recent expansion into Spain and Italy. Congratulations, Nestoria.

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Mon
18
Aug

As the fallout from Rightmove's controversial insistence on charging agents higher re-joining fees continues, Globrix boss Daniel Lee tells EstateAgentToday that he thinks Rightmove's behaviour "reads like a suicide note". With so many hungry and ambitious recent start-ups snapping at Rightmove's heels, surely they couldn't have expected to get away with this without a few teeth marks. And this is interesting and potentially very significant:

However, Rightmove also faces another new challenge, in the form of Property Live, the National Association of Estate Agent’s new portal. This will be a free membership benefit and its launch is just weeks away.

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Mon
30
Jun

20080630Zig An odd time to launch an estate agency, you might think, but Simplyzigzag ("The People's Estate Agent") is a new and ambitious name combining DIY homesales with an online estate agency model. So which is it? Is it a DIY sales site or an estate agency? You decide. For £50, you get a three-month listing with five images, plus password protected access. For £500, Simplyzigzag act as a full agent, handling enquiries, organising viewings, and - most importantly - earning access to a number of portals that cater to agents-only, including Rightmove and PropertyFinder. For £1,500, your property's featured on the homepage, you get a dedicated account manager who'll oversee the entire process, from offer to closure, to liaising with the solicitor. Like other flat-fee agencies, they point out the money to be saved over the more conventional commission model. It's perhaps a more convincing argument at a time when property's selling easily. Right now, no-sale-no-fee might be more attractive than a £1,500 speculative punt. But £500 to put a property on Rightmove and PropertyFinder seems like a decent deal.

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Wed
11
Jun

The Rat and Mouse is always interested to discover new and interesting ways in which estate agents are using social media (and I've long been urging agents to blog). Nor is this the first time we've come across houses for sale on Flickr. But we've really got to take our hats (bowler for the directors, R&M baseball caps for the interns) off to Barnet estate agents Alex Kale, who mixes homes for sale with pictures of his Staffordshire Bull Terrier and his Porsche 944 Turbo all on the same Flickr feed. Proving that, in a Web2.0 world, there is no separation between the private and the professional.

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Mon
09
Jun

Head over to the Sunday Telegraph for a useful list of the 50 Best Property Websites, including:

Perhaps the most informed property enthusiast's website is www.theratandmouse.co.uk, a highly readable mix of fact and irony. It culls papers and magazines twice daily for property gossip, whether it is the latest legal action against a dodgy estate agent or the scoop on Bruce Willis buying in Marylebone.

Thanks for the kind words...

Rat and Mouse in Googlewhack triumph [February 15, 2008]
Times lists Top 25 Property Blogs... Rat and Mouse celebrates [June 29, 2007]

Why advertise with the Rat and Mouse?

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Wed
21
May
Brightsale’s Andy Etches tells me that listings on his website have risen 25% a month since February and that viewing levels are higher than in August 2007. He believes that vendors who would have used Brightsale alongside a traditional agent last year are happier to use the website alone, and even more people are considering adding Brightsale’s services to their high street representation. With low overheads built into the business plan, the company’s well positioned to deal with the current downturn.

Our publisher on estate agency 2.0, in his guest column for Citywire.

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Fri
16
May

Halifax was one Rightmove's founding partners, along with Countrywide, Connells and Royal & Sun Alliance, but the news is that they've just bailed, selling their entire 13.1% holding. Rightmove's share price has dropped today, but not catastrophically. The sale follows bearish predictions by Rightmove, a company whose fortunes are linked closely with the fortunes of the housing market. More here.

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Fri
09
May

Property search engine Zoomf have announced a new feature they're calling "Boost". Aimed at estate agents, it borrows its MO from Google Adwords. Agents pay a set monthly amount to see a priority ad appear alongside relevant geographical search results, but are only charged when they receive leads. Unused credit carries over to the following month. It's a slick idea... although Zoomf could do with a page explaining/introducing it. And if you're browsing with Safari, you appear to be out of luck this morning. (I've just emailed the Zoomf team... I'll post their response.)

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Thu
08
May

Interesting, Australian, Web2.0 action from Streetfolio... a "simple property management" solution aimed at property investors and buy-to-let landlords. Plug in a few details of your portfolio... price paid for each property, current value, rental income, mortgage outgoing, and the web application converts the information into a handy cashflow statement and an analytics page, so you can feel on top of your investments. There's a contacts and reminders section, too, plus a place for insurance and mortgage information. Does it do anything an analogue filing cabinet can't do? No. Will it make you more likely to stay on top of things in these troubled times? Possibly. It's free to manage one property, then there's a sliding scale of membership depending on the size of your property portfolio, but it's not expensive. All the examples are Australian, but don't let that put you off, its scope is international.

20080508Streetfolio

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Thu
01
May

It hasn't had the easiest of times, and now there are reports that Tesco Property Market might be on the verge of being sold... to established estate agency group Spicerhaart. It will - apparently - retain the Tesco name, however.

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Fri
25
Apr

They apparently launched last month, but we somehow must have missed it. AgentQuote are an interesting online proposition... if you're a vendor, you register with them (for free), fill in a little information about the property you wish to sell, you sit back and wait for agents to "quote" for your business, letting you know how many potential viewers they've registered on their books and their rates of commission. Since commissions are pretty much similar across the board - and, in practice, open to last minute negotiation or matching - this probably isn't the most useful aspect. And I'd be very interested to know how AgentQuote intend to check up on an agent's "potential viewers" claims. AgentQuote say they'll be offering a comparison service, too - with agents rated by previous clients. Agents have to register, too, to receive leads... and this is the business bit of the business plan. AgentQuote will charge to add estate agents to their list... because, of course, agents have lots of spare money to throw around right now. We'll be watching this closely.

20080425Agentquote

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Thu
10
Apr

It's a £5.6m deal, and it's going to profit estate agents who - according to this - will now be able to advertise on both sites for the price of one. Traffic figures are always hotly disputed, but realestate.com.au (50% owner of Propertyfinder Holdings) claim they'll be inheriting 400,000 unique visitors with HotProperty. How many, if any, agents advertise on HotProperty, but not Propertyfinder, I don't know...

[thanks, Ed]

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Thu
03
Apr

The Rat and Mouse is used to finding estate agents at the bullish end of the spectrum when it comes to the business game of house price predictions, so it's with a certain amount of surprise that I've received a -15% by 2013 from online estate agency Brightsale (admittedly, an agency that isn't afraid of being different). It's part of a report into the future of estate agency, which uses the prediction as evidence that high street estate agencies will be no more than "niche" rarities by 2013, as diminishing business drives them online and out of bricks-and-mortar. You can read "Is There a Future for High Street Estate Agency here.

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Fri
28
Mar

Grand Designs have a week of live TV planned for May, during which they'll reveal their top 25 houses, picked from all the shows. You can catch up on missed properties, and vote, too, by going here. Vote for this one and you're barred.

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Tue
18
Mar

Property search engine Nestoria continues to innovate. Now property-related websites can display live property price information, drawn from Nestoria data, via a widget. More explanation here. Nice work.

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Tue
26
Feb

You know you want to. RottenNeighbor.com is a new public service website with a twist. Use the embedded Google map to tag your irritating neighbours, and explain why you hate them. Join the message board to discuss further. It's being marketed as a real estate site, aimed at helping potential buyers avoid nasty surprises. But surely there's a conflict of interest here. I wouldn't want to advertise my noisy, abusive neighbours to potential buyers... and so risk either driving down the price of my property or discourage nice, new, fragrant people from moving into the area. Or am I being picky? Anyway, it's a US site, and the London map is surprisingly sparse right now. You know what to do.

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Mon
25
Feb

The plan was to bring you one of those little jpeg representations of the front page that the Rat and Mouse is so fond of, but the front page repeatedly crashed my capture client. So I saved it as a pdf... a 60 page pdf. It's now clear that I'm not going to be able to bring you an image of the House Prices Will Never Crash front page, because it's just too big and too mad... but what follows are a few highlights.

20080225Hpwc1

It's a truly extraordinary creation. It includes dinner party dialogue in screenplay format celebrating house price hikes, predictions of stratospheric rises in property values pegged to the Olympics and lots of pictures of rockets. Most of all, it's about the sell-to-renters. It doesn't like them.

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In fact, the website's so crazy...

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... that it's tempting to wonder whether it's the work of a HousePriceCrash agent out to discredit the bulls.

But... there are videos, too... 140 in the last three weeks, none of which I feel like embedding in the Rat and Mouse, and some of which are entirely unacceptable. What's going on? I'm scared. Who's Bruno?

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Fri
08
Feb

20080208Brickschicks

Returning to the Times, briefly... The Bricks Chicks. Love it. A kind of Charlie's Angels... with interest rates. Although I thought there were laws about this kind of sexual discrimination.

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They don't get a link, but it's pretty clear whom Anne Ashworth is talking about here.

This pro-crash lobby accuses the economists at Nationwide and Halifax of publishing figures that give a falsely optimistic view. Journalists who report these numbers are deemed to be either mouthpieces for lenders or determined to support the value of their own property investments. The motives of this online fraternity that longs for the human misery produced by a market collapse are a mystery. Perhaps they hope that if they spread sufficient gloom, their rantings will become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The Rat and Mouse believes the motives are a mystery because they're a complete mixture. At the more noble end... a mixture of old-fashioned Marxism and a genuine desire to address some of the iniquities of the system. Less noble... envy and a desire to punish (although these motives haven't been thought through, because it won't be the rich who'll be punished by rising interest rates and lower house prices, it will be anybody who just managed to get a hand on the bottom rung of the property ladder). Furthermore... a few instances of a need - at any cost - to be proved right. Clearly, though, after a certain amount of time, all bets are off. You can't predict something, wait indefinitely for it to happen, and then claim a victory. And finally - of course - there are the nutters, who just like attacking people on the Internet. Luckily, the site has enough of the former to make it an interesting read. If that's your thing, don't miss out on HousingPANIC either.

Meanwhile, if you want to know who the nutters are, it might be worth watching the comments section below Anne Ashworth's article for the next few days.

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Wed
30
Jan

Based in California, but global in scope, Ava Living is a niche social network with the aim of hooking up anyone with an interest in interior design... pros and non-pros alike. There'll be contests for design students, and the chance to post questions to designers, and for designers to post examples of their work.

20080129Avaliving

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Wed
16
Jan

News International have brought in Gillian Kent, former MSN UK MD, to head up Propertyfinder, overhaul its business strategy, and make it yap louder on the tail of market leader Rightmove. More here.

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Tue
15
Jan

One we meant to bring you earlier.

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Thu
10
Jan
"By becoming part of FIC's international bouquet of channels, RETV will be able to leverage the company's publishing, online and other channels to further improve our viewers experience while enhancing at the same time the value proposition we can offer to our advertisers."

That's sweet-smelling Real Estate TV's MD Mark Dodd (or just "MD" for short) on Fox's purchase of the satcab channel.

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Wed
09
Jan

What's that? Pitchpuff.com is a web launch by A Place In The Sun's Zilpa Hartley. It's a private sales website with the emphasis on video and property. You can shoot your own particulars and upload the film from your video camera or mobile phone, or ask the Pitchpuff posse to come and shoot it for you. For a limited period, you get 12 months of advertising for free, and then it's £15 per month per property.

20080108Pitchpuff

Property search news... an update... [February 9, 2007]
Hello PodAds [August 3, 2006]
Rat and Mouse trendspotter - video viewings [April 11, 2006]

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Wed
19
Dec

Charmed. Oh, there's more:

Poverty of weather, poverty of emotional expression (save for humor and violence) and, now it seems, poverty amongst first-time buyers of real estate.

Thanks, Chris Matyszczyk... perhaps growing up in the UK with that surname gave you more exposure to humour and violence than is representative. But that's neither here nor there. He's writing for ZDNet about cohabitation and Facebook, and in particular sharetobuy.com, a kind of speed-dating service for would-be home-sharers looking to get onto the ladder. His tone is, er, skeptical and, interestingly, he equates a willingness to use this service with greed. Has any Rat and Mouse reader tried sharetobuy.com? Any experiences to report?

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Fri
14
Dec

It strikes the Rat and Mouse that now is a particularly good time to be paying close attention to PropertySnake, the place to watch real-life asking price collapses as they happen. Today, we're particularly taken with this rather charming five-bedroom Victorian house in Clapham, down from an original guide price of £1.399m (according to this) to the current £995,000... that's a bargaintastic fall of 28%. Stay tuned for more. And have a great weekend.

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Tue
11
Dec

According to the FT, Tesco - still, officially, in limbo between its suspended private sales service and a possible "new and exciting on-line estate agency service - has complained to the OFT about Rightmove's refusal to list Tesco's properties. Rightmove's response?

"The analogy is, if we opened a grocery store next to Tesco and found people were still going to Tesco, would our next move be to insist that Tesco let us open up on their premises?"

Actually, it's pretty difficult to find an accurate analogy right now, since it's not at all clear what Tesco's intentions are. However Tesco's concern appears to be that Rightmove is much more than simply a shop front... they are a standard online entry into the property market. But do they dominate any more than Tesco dominate the grocery business?

Tesco sounds retreat [October 4, 2007]
Estate agents grab whatever's to hand, prepare to fight Tesco [July 30, 2007]

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Fri
07
Dec

20071207Zoomf

Zoomf, and new snowy logo, here.

[via Renthusiast]

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Mon
03
Dec

Rightmove have gone from green to blue in a revamp that's more about look than functionality.

20071203Newrightmove

Fair enough, looks better, but weren't you kind of expecting a little Googlemaps fancy shmancy-ness, too? No, still stuck with those clunky, non-draggable AboutMyPlace maps, and a little primary and secondary school action to give the impression of usefulness. Or do they know something the young upstarts don't? Do users just want the barest of information... agent and guide price? Personally I appreciate the thought that goes into the Nestoria and Zoomf experience... what do you think?

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Tue
27
Nov

20071127Vision

Nestoria has cleverly linked its live search data to a GoogleMap. The result? You can sit back and watch what's being searched, live. Perfect for the property addict who's so far gone their bodies have developed a resistance to Channel 4's televised output and so needs something pure and uncut to stare at. Watch it, here; but remember to blink once in a while.

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Mon
26
Nov

First [via Renthusiast], Extate appears to have become DotHomes. Sensible?... asks Renthusiast. Yeah. I reckon.

And - fresh from the blog that is all things Nestoria - now it's easy for anybody to use the Nestoria data to show average house prices for a particular area. Each Nestoria search offers you a simple cut-out-and-post widget, which you can embed into your blog.

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Thu
08
Nov

20071108Zoomf

First, Zoomf announce visual search... a tasty alternative to entering a postcode or street name. Now, you can draw the areas that interest you directly onto the map. It comes as part of a colourful redesign that's keeping Zoomf fun and fresh. Meanwhile Nestoria have teamed up with Sportsbase to add sports information to their listings. If living close to a pitch, court or club is as important to you as living close to a tube station or school, Nestoria have the tools to make it happen. Don't expect this kind of innovation or responsiveness from the larger portals.

20071108Nestoria

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Tue
30
Oct

They're a property search engine with 450,000 properties in the UK and 700,000 in Spain. That's a lot of data, especially if you factor in historical data. So expect considerable interest now that Nestoria's announced it will make all that data (current, for now, historical to follow) available via its API (application programming interface, the code that allows Nestoria's software work with other developers'). The implications might be significant, not just for existing suppliers of house price data, but other property search engines, too.

[via TechCrunch]

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Fri
26
Oct

A phone-in discussion, starting at 1pm, on Radio 2. If you're "abroad", you can listen online, via the BBC website, here.

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Thu
25
Oct

It's so new it's not actually there yet:

20071025Globrix-1

Interestingly, News International already has a 50% stake in PropertyFinder, which charges agents to list on its site. Globrix will do things differently, using spiders to crawl agents' sites to produce a search database. It's not a new technique, and it's one that's rumoured to have previously got other property search start-ups in hot water with market leader Rightmove. According to this in the FT, Globrix will offer estate agents the opportunity to opt out. Revenue will come - instead - from an advertising model.

With News International cash behind it, it's likely to become a force to be reckoned with. As we all know, it's a competitive market, and - ultimately - success is all about innovation and implementation. The Rat and Mouse watches developments with interest.

[Thanks - twice - Ed]

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Tue
09
Oct

Low fees online estate agency HouseSimple was hired (along with Jackson-Stops & Staff and Walkers) to market a £3m Essex estate, including seven bedrooms, 67 acres and a further cottage in the grounds. According to HouseSimple, the website received 5,000 "summary views" and 500 "detailed views" for the property, and it was the only agency to bring in offers. One, the asking price, was accepted. The buyer exchanged last Wednesday. HouseSimple charged 0.67% (a discount from its usual multi-agency deal of 0.75%), earning just over £20,000 in commission. A more typical high street deal of 2% would have cost the vendors £60,000. It might be an important moment, one you'll hear cited many times in the future to demonstrate that these new, online alternatives can shift expensive properties too.

20071009Housesimple

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It's not quite science, but Oodle's new price tool - based on asking prices on its database - provides a useful point of comparison between one neighbourhood and another. Search here, and click the pricing button.

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Thu
04
Oct

Property blog BricksnClicks has the scoop on news that Tesco appears to have ditched its For Sale By Owner online offering:

Tesco Property Market launched in the early summer offering the public a chance to sell their house privately for £199. The offering immediately ran into trouble with estate agents and the property portals... I understand that all of Tesco’s existing clients will receive full refunds plus a good will payment.

According to BricksnClicks, Tesco's retreat comes after the OFT ruled that Tesco were acting as estate agents, and so must comply with all necessary legislation. The demands associated with that make a £199 fixed fee impractical.

In Tesco's own words:

20071004TescoAs we can't be both an on-line estate agent and private seller we reluctantly have to suspend the private seller service launched earlier in the year. We will however continue to use Tesco Property Market to provide advice and support to home movers, as well as offering great value products including mortgages, insurance, conveyancing and HIPs.

Estate agents grab whatever's to hand, prepare to fight Tesco [July 30, 2007]
Tesco answers back [July 6, 2007]
Tesco - hung out to dry? [July 4, 2007]
Brightsale attacks Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Property portals don't freak out/do freak out over Tesco [July 2, 2007]

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It's "sort by newness"... which - as anyone who's used one of these property search engines for real world house-hunting will know - is a very valuable feature, and should go a long way toward combating misleading/old listings. Nestoria's here.

20071004Nestoria

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Fri
07
Sep

That was fun. I thought Mike Carter and Mark Hopwood - while approaching the subject in very different ways - both spoke eloquently about what Web2.0 is and the opportunities and risks it presents for the property industry, and I enjoyed Andy Etches' robust case for a skilled, value-driven online agency business that can thrive alongside the the more traditional high street names. I have to admit... I'd been a little nervous about the event. I make very few public appearances... I normally send a stunt double. But with such a friendly and interesting panel, skillful chairperson and informed and eloquent crowd, I'm really glad I didn't miss this. Thanks to Zoomf for the invitation, and to any Rat and Mouse readers who showed up... and particularly those who came over and said "hello".

The gentleman from Knight Frank made an interesting and very valid point about the difficulty persuading the old guard running a 150 year old company that a corporate blog might be safe, never-mind desirable or useful. That's simply never going to be easy. But the reality is that it's probably not a question about blogging, Web2.0 or new media. It's a question about leadership and business culture, and it could apply to almost anything, from technology to dress-code. In any case blogging isn't new. And if the word itself is a problem, approach it as a company journal. If the Wokingham Conservatives are doing it...

If anybody wants to keep the conversation going, or for advice about blogging software/tools, feel free to comment or email.

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Thu
06
Sep

20070905Secondlife
Here's the story of (as far as I know) the first open-house to take place in Second Life. US agents Coldwell Banker took an experimental approach to marketing a $3m property on Mercer Island (Washington State)... building a Second Life replica. According to the brokers, the virtual house had 3,500 visitors in three days (and the numbers have continued at around that level), compared to the 50 to 100 people they'd expect to visit the real property each day. And no - they didn't just come and make out on the sofas.

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Thu
23
Aug

It's been an accident waiting to happen for some time... the steady growth, improvement and influence of free-and-easy, Web2.0 online estate agents and their worsening relationship with the sole-agency agreement-loving high street agents. At some point, there was going to be either a big rumpus, with property bloggers standing around shouting "Fight! Fight! Fight!", or (preferably) a big fight, with property bloggers standing around shouting "Rumpus! Rumpus! Rumpus!". Clearly riled by recent comments made by Spicer Haart's Paul Smith, Brightsale (generally regarded as some of the property business's Web2.0 good guys) are doing the only sensible thing and - after seeing some of their own clients penalised by high street agents for signing up online - attempting to bring matters to a head. They've written to the Office for Fair Trading, demanding they look again into the issue of fair competition in estate agenting, making some specific recommendations, including "cooling off" periods for disappointed homesellers. Here's Brightsale's Andy Etches:

“For such a senior figure in the estate agency profession [Smith, above] to call for contracts which prevent the use of online agents is regressive to the development of competition and to the evolution of estate agency in this country. ‘Sole selling rights’ contracts are iniquitous and clearly not in the interests of consumers. We don’t see how any contract which allows an estate agent to claim a fee even when a home owner sells his property to his neighbour following a private chat over a garden fence can possibly be defended as fair to consumers.”

The UK's hippest estate agents? [January 31, 2007]

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It's called IdealHome.tv, and it cleverly turns you existing particulars (floorplan, photos etc) into something that looks kind of like a movie. There are three options. A standard movie costs £99, and will give you two minutes of panning and transitions through 15 photographs, plus subtitles. Two hundred and fifty pounds buys the plus movie, adding script, voiceover and music. Add another £100 for the premier service, and your estate agent's looking at a branded player, floor plans, scene selection, maps and a rub-down with finely fragranced oils. It's an interesting technology. Whether it sells houses, I don't know... but it certainly gives the impression of movie-particulars (all externals shot on a very still day) without the crew turning up. There are examples on the website. See what you think.

20070822Idealhometv

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Wed
01
Aug

I'm not sure the Rat and Mouse has written about PropertySnake before, which is pretty criminal since it's one of the property web's more interesting addresses. Want to know which listings are dropping in price? PropertySnake's the place to go. For now, anyway. They've just been constricted by the portals:

Unfortunately in recent weeks, several owners of property portal websites that we have previously linked to have requested that we remove their listings from our site for copyright reasons. We have of course complied with their requests when asked, but we were disappointed in their decisions as we had previously felt that they would be more than happy to receive the free leads from the traffic we were driving to their sites. Instead, we have replaced all the listings with a new batch which can be seen on the site today. Unfortunately we are unable to provide direct links or photographs anymore.

Hmm. Wonder where the new listings are from? Anyway, it's still a good browse... and recommended.

20070801Propertysnake

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Tue
31
Jul

I enjoyed it... although I'd liked to have seen something about the detrimental effect of developer-led arsitecture on the urban and suburban environment. Another blogger - a northern property writer who knows his patch - is less impressed.

Tonight's must-see TV [July 30, 2007]

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Mon
30
Jul

20070730Braveheart
The rallying cry - reported in Estate Agency News - comes from Paul Smith, chief executive of Spicer Haart:

Tesco might think that ‘‘Every little helps" — but it won’t be at my expense.

Love it. He calls on estate agents to stick together and prove their worth. More controversially:

Estate agents with sole agency contracts need to be careful. There’s nothing to stop their vendors from sellling privately. You need to consider reverting to sole selling rights and include a clause which prevents the seller from using an Internet Property Retailer at the same time.

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Fri
13
Jul

20070713FoxcastDo any of you use the Foxton's podcast/vidcast service? I've got to admit, I wasn't actually aware of it before reading this interesting if slightly confused piece in the International Herald Tribune. Foxtons believe in rss, but their Web manager, Leo Lapworth, is sceptical about video tours:

If I'm a buyer, I don't really need to see someone opening a cupboard door, what I need to see is the floor plan, the room-by-room descriptions, and that's what's going to help me decide whether I want to see the property or not.

Which explains why their selection of vidcasts and podcasts are such a strange hybrid... an automatic computer-generated voice reading particulars, accompanied - in the "video" version - by still photographs. It's functional, fast and cheap, which has got to be right... but the dalek does nothing for Foxtons' friendly image.

More news to me from the IHT piece is BuyAssociation - a website offering advice about buying houses and, er, other stuff. Here, you can listen to podcasts by Adrian Mills and Maggie Philbin interviewing industry experts on property and cosmetic surgery. What?!! Oh yes, it's a homebuying and facelifting site... an impartial buying guide for the property-hungry and slack-joweled. And what's odd about that?

20070713Buyassociation

Your particulars - the movie [July 6, 2007]

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Thu
12
Jul

Nestoria - the property search engine responsible for powering the Rat and Mouse's own search facility (front page, top right, give it a whirl) - have added a clever new feature. Partnering up with ParkAtMyHouse, they now offer information about local parking opportunities - not just conventional carparks but privately rented parking spaces - with each and every property search.

20070712Parking

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According to Rosalind Russell, writing in the Telegraph, estate agents are deliberately populating property listing websites with homes that were sold weeks ago or - in some instances, she hints - were never on the market. The idea is to appear useful and relevant during a property shortage, and to encourage the phone call in order to register the details of a potential buyer. The result for us? A waste of time. For estate agents, should the public get wise to this? It's put succinctly by Nick Goble of Winkworth:

Credibility is being undermined by more than one agent, and if we lose our credibility, we are snookered.

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Wed
11
Jul

Property search engine Properazzi appears to be heading further and further afield to find the sunshine promised in their logo. Rat and Mouse readers will find properties from Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia added to their already extensive roster.

20070711Properazzi

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Mon
09
Jul

Apparently "thousands of estate agents" are threatening Tesco Property Market with legal action if they don't remove their listings. These are particulars which - according to Tesco's agreement with fish4homes - were to stay on the site until October, even though fish4homes have already pulled out of an ongoing relationship with the supermarket-turned-estate agency.

Tesco answers back [July 6, 2007]
Tesco - hung out to dry? [July 4, 2007]
Brightsale attacks Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Property protals don't freak out/do freak out over Tesco [July 2, 2007]

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Fri
06
Jul

Our friends at Property Clip spill a few trade secrets - including £50,000 cameras and pro-editing equipment - in this Independent feature about producing the ultimate movie-style property particulars. Next time the Rat and Mouse calls in the agents, we're going to leverage Property Clip's services as much as possible, including CGI special effects and a full cast to play myself, Mrs Brandt and our glamorous friends. Unfortunately my next-door neighbour already looks like he's being played by Dennis Waterman... but presumably there's something we can do about that.

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According to this, Tesco's Property Market has drawn more than a quarter of a million visitors in less than a week, and they've already managed to sign up a handful of private sellers. The vast majority of their listings, however, are for the chop. Keen to put things right with angry estate agents, Tesco spokesman Mark Davis commented thus:

I’ve spent a decade working in the property industry and I can understand why estate agents might view Tesco’s entry into the market with initial scepticism because competition can be tough. But it benefits consumers and makes businesses work harder for them.

Yep, that should do it.

Tesco - hung out to dry? [July 4, 2007]
Brightsale attacks Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Property portals don't freak out/do freak out over Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Tesco's piece of estate agency pie [June 29, 2007]

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Thu
05
Jul

Congratulations to (free) online home-move planner Moveme.com for winning Best New Business in the 2007 New Media Age Awards. Moveme.com has backing from Advent Venture Partners, The Accelerator Group and no less a new media celebrity as Brent Hoberman.

20070706Moveme

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Wed
04
Jul

20070704Tesco
From Joe Slavin, CE of fish4:

fish4homes continually strives to provide the highest quality service to its network of clients. Because Tesco is one of the UK’s biggest and most widely-recognised brands, we initially felt that involvement in the Tesco Property Market initiative would give our new and existing customers’ property adverts maximum exposure and deliver maximum value for our partners moving forward.

Right, every little helps... but?

Since the launch of Tesco Property Market, we have received valuable customer feedback and have decided that our involvement with the site, in its current format, is not in the best interest of our clients. We are therefore terminating our agreement with Tesco.

Does this mean that Tesco will be left, shortly, with zero properties for sale?

Brightsale attacks Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Property portals don't freak out/do freak out over Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Tesco's piece of estate agency pie [June 29, 2007]

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Mon
02
Jul

... and then fires indiscriminately into the property industry crowd, injuring both sell-it-yourself websites and estate agents. According to a missive from Brightsale boss Endy Etches, Tesco is doomed to failure.

Selling a home is a very big deal, and the feedback we have had over the past six months is that people do not feel confident in going it completely alone. They need the support not just of sophisticated online tools, but also of a properly trained single point person who can negotiate with buyers, deal with solicitors, chase up chains and attend to the many, many other aspects of completing a sale.

Estate agents... don't get too comfortable:

The old style traditional estate agent is similarly in danger of going the way of high street travel agents. The costs of running a branch network have to be passed on to customers, and the lack of investment in online tools by the vast majority of these agencies has left them unresponsive to customer demands in an online world. The future is not bricks and mortar (and logoed cars and flashy suits) any more than it is ‘sell it yourself'.

Unsurprisingly, according Etches, the future's bright, the future's, er, Brightsale... a low-cost, alternative estate agency model, operating online and out of a Manchester call-centre, charging 0.5% (including legal fees). The Rat and Mouse has written about Brightsale before... and we've remained impressed with their forward-looking approach to the industry... a bit of Redfin-style lateral thinking and investment in more than online acreage. Whether Etches will be proved right remains to be seen.

Property portals don't freak out/do freak out over Tesco [July 2, 2007]
Tesco's piece of estate agency pie [June 29, 2007]
Wow - online or off? [June 8, 2007]

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So, Tesco's estate agency site is up and running.

20070701Tesco

Last week, we reported on the strange mating ritual taking place between the property portals and the supermarket giant. Well, according to a connected Rat and Mouse informant, there was more honking and arse-feather-displaying than even we realised.

Continued... after the jump.

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Fri
29
Jun

Everybody wants a piece. Last year, it was Asda. Now, Bricks'n'Clicks appears to have the scoop on a plan by Tesco to enter the online, low cost estate agency market. Tesco themselves are refusing to comment, while the other larger property portals are apparently engaging in a strange mating ritual as they decide whether they want Tesco to pluck their listings or not.

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Okay, it would be dishonest not to admit I'm excited about being up there at the top...

20070629Timesreview

... but I'm also having a lot of fun exploring this list. A New Build Diary, the architecture thread at MyNinjaPlease, and pingmag, in particular, are heading straight for the Rat and Mouse feed reader, and I'm continuing to explore. Thanks, once again, to the Times for the kind words. Get the full list here.

Rat and Mouse in Times Top 50 business blogs [June 13, 2007]

Why advertise with the Rat and Mouse?

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Thu
28
Jun

20070628Flatsearch

If you're a Facebook fanatic you'll be pleased to know you can now search for an apartment without leaving the warm and addictive cocoon of your homepage. Go here, load the Nestoria application, and not only will you be able to search for property at lightning speed, but you'll be able to share your searches with your friends and send them details of properties too, all from within Facebook.

20070628Nestface

I've tested it, and it's very, very good.

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Fri
22
Jun

Remember last weekend's Hack Day contest, sponsored by Nestoria? There was a winner... it's called "Pyzeta" and it enables owners of GPS-enabled Nokia mobile phones to automatically browse Nestoria-listed properties in their immediate vicinity. More here.

20070622Nesthack

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Fri
15
Jun

According to a survey by Alliance & Leicester, private home-sellers using websites to market their properties are finding buyers in an average of less than two months, compared to more than three months via the more conventional estate agency route. The survey featured 2,384 people, 8% of whom had used on online private sales service, 5% had used a local paper, 4% had hand-crafted a "for sale" board and 1% had used eBay.

[via Reuters]

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Thu
14
Jun

That's right, our friends at Nestoria are using Saturday's Yahoo! Hack Day in London to launch a competition. The best (as judged by the Nestoria engineering team) mashup to use the Nestoria API will win a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx GPS... because geeks like to know where they are. Good luck.

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Tue
12
Jun

Fuzzbo - isn't the domain name market a bitch? - is a Googlemaps mashup online private sales website. For £99 and not a penny more... okay, plus VAT... Fuzzbo will upload your property details onto not only their map, but a bunch of partners' too, including Home.co.uk, Hotproperty.co.uk, PrimeMove.com, OnOneMap.com and Nestoria. What's more, you get a real-life for sale board to put up outside your house.

20070612Fuzzbo

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Fri
08
Jun

The Telegraph carried this interesting piece about Wow, an online agent with an offline presence. Wow will apparently only operate in neighbourhoods where they have a local agent who knows the local market and can view the property. It's not entirely clear from the website, but according to the Telegraph they've "branches" in west and south west London. They charge a flat fee of £899 (making them a viable alternative when selling a property worth £400,000 or more), and advertise on a host of larger portals, including Rightmove and Propertyfinder. So... a local agent with an online shopfront.

20070608Wow

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And it looks like this:

20070608Zoomf

[via Renthusiast] [Zoomf]

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It's called Blockhunter, and it's a particularly elegant example of what are - apparently - being called "intention websites". You don't advertise your home on Blockhunter... you express an interest in selling (or letting) it. On the other side of the fence, potential buyers (or tenants) express an interest in taking it off your hands. Both parties remain anonymous... but are matched up via a very nice implementation of the Google Search and Maps APIs. In practice, it's impressively fast and simple to use... an initial search for tenants in south west London found me nine entries in less than 60 seconds. Downsides? Since it's free (and anonymous) there aren't many, but it clearly relies on the quality of user-generated content. Some potential buyers are registering "blocks" (their personal geographic search areas) that are so huge they're effectively pointless (I found somebody looking for a 2-4 bedroom flat anywhere within a 66,095 square kilometre "block" that stretched from Southend-on-Sea in the east to Tipperary in Ireland in the west... not too fussy, clearly). Also, studio flats aren't served in the drop-down menu. But this is a new website, with an elegant and usable UI, and will improve the more people try it out.

20070608Blockhunter

Start marketing your home before it's for sale [March 30, 2007]

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20070608Rmkeyboard
One of the really great things about being a property blogger - apart from the money and the drugs and the girls - is being your own boss. Basically, you can do what the hell you like... and it's a daily struggle not to let all that power and influence corrupt. So today - because I can - I'm declaring this Rat and Mouse tech Friday... expect a handful of tech and web-related property stories throughout the day. If you've a tip... send it in. Please.

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Thu
24
May

20070524Exceptionalhomes
Exceptional Homes - it's a brand new internet agency charging a 1% commission, but limiting its list to homes valued at £1m and more (because, let's face it, 1% of more is... more). According to the press release, the company's financed by an ex-City broker who didn't feel he got a particularly good deal when he paid a high street agent £60,000 to sell his Kensington townhouse. So what will Exceptional Homes do for you? They'll get your property onto Primelocation, they'll provide a 3D walkthrough (hosted, a little disappointingly, on YouTube and then embedded in the EH page), they'll give you an online viewings calendar, do the usual agent viewings stuff and (this is more impressive) pay for a Google AdWords campaign. They clearly need time to do a bit of refining (their site could use a spelling and grammar swipe)... but - since their 1% assumes multi-agency representation - there's no good reason not to sign up.

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Wed
23
May

20070523Findaproperty
Ten years old this month, apparently.

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Wed
16
May

20070516Cbs
Here's an interesting segment on CBS's 60 Minutes about Internet estate agents Redfin and their battle with the conventional real estate agent lobby, which appears to be doing everything its power to shut them down. "Real estate is, for sure, the most screwed up industry in America," says Redfin's CEO. In the States, agents take a giant 6% commission. Redfin takes 3%, and gives two-thirds of that back to the buyer. But - later in the segment - we go on the road with one of those critical 6%ers... an agent from Remax. And, geez, does she work for her money... cleaning and preparing and staging the houses, personally leafletting the neighbourhood with individual ads for each new property she takes on. She's like Annette Bening in American Beauty. It's an interesting little film. Watch it here.

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Mon
14
May

News reaches the Rat and Mouse head office that Nestoria have successfully achieved the latest stage in their expansion plans and are now ready to serve up live property listings to the UK's favourite foreign language property destination... Scotland Spain. Congratulations to Nestoria. We've already had a chance to play with Nestoria Spain, and we're pleased to report you can expect the same refined and intelligent usability and impressive speed that make Nestoria UK so impressive. It's good; it's here.

20070514Nestoriaspain

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Tue
08
May

This time... www.DocklandHomes.co.uk... yours for £795 + VAT. If you want it... drop us a line and we'll pass your interest on to the vendor.

Domain name for sale [April 19, 2007]
Valuable domain name for sale [February 27, 2007]

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Tue
24
Apr

20070424Sbo
If we're to believe the estate agents, the market has gone crazy for sealed bids. And yet surveys suggest that, for a lot of people, the process just adds another layer of distrust and suspicion. Are all the bids being passed along? Are they really sealed? Here's a new website aimed at banishing some of the uncertainty. Agents or private vendors sign up. Their property's listed on the site, which then provides secure software for the sealed bid process. Bidders sign in and submit their maximum bids, which are date stamped, kept secret and gathered together until the deadline. Agents/vendors can see how many bids there are but - until the deadline passes - they have no idea of figures. Nice. I've tried to find a problem with this but I can't... other than a general inertia regarding new technology from both agents and vendors.

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Wed
04
Apr

Zillow - the US's premier property portal - has added an interesting new innovation... a kind of specialist Q&A feature along the lines of Yahoo Answers. The idea is that you can type in the address of a property, then post a question, or view questions and answer them (if, say, you're the agent, or the owner, or just somebody who's viewed the property). Very nice.

20070404Zillow

Start marketing your home before it's for sale [March 30, 2007]
Clever search engine developments at Nestoria [March 20, 2007]
The Rat and Mouse Monday interview - Lockhart Steele of Curbed.com [March 19, 2007]

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Fri
30
Mar

20070330.umyup.jpg

Here's an interesting new site. UmYup (the FAQ is unfortunately missing an entry about their name) is a social network for people thinking about moving. If you're a homeowner, you sign up, share some (anonymous) information about your home, register interest in anybody else's that might suit your moving needs, and sit patiently while a waiting list of potential buyers register interest in your house. Interestingly, if it's a second home you're thinking of offloading, UmYup doesn't want you:

UmYup users are both buyers and sellers - they are looking to move house from one place to another. This need is shared by all UmYup users and it means that everyone is in a similar position. If you wan to sell your second property (and therefore you will not be looking to move home as a result) then UmYup is not for you yet.

That makes sense.

The basic service is free. But there are limits to what you can do... you can't view "extended" details, make contact with other users using the secure system or store more than one search. The "advanced" services cost £14.99 for six months, £24.99 for 12 months.

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Tue
20
Mar

There's a new feature... a "more like this" button, next to all listings. Click it - and through the magic of a secret search-voodoo formula - Nestoria reorganises your results, bringing properties with descriptions similar to your selected listing up to the top. We've tested it, and it's good.

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Mon
19
Mar

The Rat and Mouse is reaching out. From now on, some Mondays (not including Bank Holidays Mondays, Black Mondays, or Mondays when the sheer pressure of my other work means I simply haven't got it together) will feature an interview. And I'm delighted to be kicking off this series with Lockhart Steele - founder of New York's powerhouse property blog Curbed (currently in rapid-expansion mode and centrepiece of the Curbed Network) and editorial director for Gawker Media. Curbed is great, and if you've any interest whatsoever in the changing shape of Manhattan you should be reading it. Here's the interview:

Could you could give a little background about Curbed? When? Why? How? And what about that name?

Steele LockhartCurbed grew out of my personal blog, LockhartSteele.com, which I started in 2001. I ended up blogging a lot about the Lower East Side, the neighborhood in downtown Manhattan where I lived. As people in the neighborhood came to read the site, I figured it might be fun to broaden things a bit and try to tell the story of all the city's neighbourhoods. That's how Curbed came about.

No great story behind the name. I came up with it during a brainstorm session, and our tech genius Eliot Shepard told me it was the best of an otherwise pretty shitty list.

Was there a business plan behind the website right from the start? If so, how has it (and the nature of the site) changed since you launched it?

Well, I'd say I had the hope that if all went well with the site, it would generate some income down the road. But that wasn't the primary reason for doing it - I really thought it would be fun. I ran the site the entire first year without advertising, but a dear old friend of mine, Alexis Palmer, was a partner in Curbed from Day 1 for the day when advertisers came calling. That started to happen in the spring of 2005.

Besides adding ads to the site, not much has changed on Curbed New York, though we've expanded to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and added spinoff sites including Eater (restaurant news for NYC, LA, and, soon, San Francisco), and The Beach (a sort of combo Curbed-Eater for the Hamptons), plus a new NYC spinoff launching later this month.

Lock answers the tough ones, after the jump...

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Tue
13
Mar

In yesterday's trading:

Directors have bailed out of property website Rightmove (LSE: RMV.L - news) following the expiry of the terms of the lock-up agreement entered into when Rightmove floated in March 2006. Managing director of Rightmove.co.uk Nick McKittrick sold 479,562 shares at 480p each to bag £2.3m, leaving him with 900,000 shares. Ed Williams, group managing director, disposed of 300,000, also at 480p. He is around £1.44m richer, but still has 2.4m shares in the group. The pair were joined by commercial director Miles Shipside who sold 779,562 for a haul of over £3.7m, while finance Director Scott Marshall pocketed just under £100,000. Both sold at 480p.

Well if Shipside thinks he'll be able to purchase any meaningful chunk of the Rat and Mouse with that kind of chump change, he can forget it. Seriously, though. If you've shares in Rightmove... how 'ya feeling right now?

Rightmove - soared like an eagle [March 10, 2006]
Rightmove - making the right moves [July 6, 2006]

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Tue
27
Feb

it's CentralLondonProperty.com, and it's available on the open market for the first time (we're told) since 1996. How much? £795 + VAT. Not too much money when compared to this. If you're interested, drop us a line and we'll pass on any interest to the owners.

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Tue
20
Feb

20070220Heatmap1
Congratulations to Mouseprice for coming up with a great idea... they've used their access to Land Registry completion figures to build a "heat map" of UK house prices. It's fascinating and addictive. Go play.

20070220Heatmap2

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Mon
19
Feb

20070219Masts Property listing-map mashup site OnOneMap has added mobile phone masts to the database. Interesting and useful, I guess, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like the idea of your brain being a through-route for a million digital conversations every night. (Or if you want to make sure you can get some decent reception.)

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It seems like only - well, last October 30 - when the Telegraph looked at ways of selling your home privately, taking advantage of private sales websites such as The Little House Company and House Ladder to avoid estate agency fees. So it's about time, I guess, for another Telegraph feature about ways of selling your home privately, taking advantage of private sales websites such as The Little House Company and House Ladder to avoid estate agency fees.

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Fri
09
Feb

A big congratulations to Zoomf.com for apparently winning a substantial quantity (the actual figure remains top secret) of cash for future development, courtesy of Howzat Media. Go to Real Estate Enthusiast for the scoop on that.

Meanwhile, we're intrigued by a new video feature coming courtesy of Extate. Vendors now have the opportunity to upload - YouTube-style - short video clips either from their computers or direct from their mobile phones. The videos are then integrated into the listings. We've had a good play with this feature and really love the way the videos are integrated... they play smoothly and flawlessly. (I'm not sure about the light classics accompaniment, though... for some reason it makes me want to laugh.) A question for Extate: do vendors get some kind of password or account? I've clicked as far as "add video" on a random listing and a box has offered me the opportunity to upload any video from my hard-drive... holiday vid, school sports day, ex-girlfriend... could be anything. What's to stop the unscrupulous having some fun with this? Presumably they're not checked by real people? That wouldn't be very Web2.0.

Anyway - if you want to watch some property action, go here and click the buttons marked "video".

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Mon
05
Feb

Well, Their Currency, technically, since this is an American site... but the concept's still interesting. You post a home and its asking price, then users are invited to comment with what they consider a more realistic suggested value and a figure - between one and ten - relating to how strongly they think they're right. I know what you're thinking... people will take the piss. Well, they figured that, too, and have implemented a system that weights contributions depending on the past performance of the contributer. Interesting. So why would anybody bother? The theory is that estate agents might use it as a way of creating dialogue and generating real leads. Find it here

20070204Mycurrency

The Rat and Mouse - now with added search [January 29, 2007]

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Mon
22
Jan

20070121Inzo Fulham estate agents Inzo have shoehorned their database into a something more accessible from a mobile phone or PDA browser. You still get floor plans, photos, a map and full descriptions, but you can view them on your mobile. So what? Well, how many times have you spotted a potential home by its billboard when you're out and about, and wondered how much it's listed for? More here.

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Thu
18
Jan

20070118Park

We're impressed with a new Googlemaps mashup aimed at making a little pocket money for people with driveways, easing parking problems for those who need to park up in town, and reducing double-parking and congestion. The concept's so simple I'm furious I didn't think of it. If you've a spare daytime parking place, you can advertise it (with a rental figure) on their map. If you need to park in a particular area, you simply enter the postcode or road into the map's search box, and you'll get any local free parking space flagged up. Click on each one for terms (cost, availability etc). Very nice.

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Tue
09
Jan

A few property price predictions [Telegraph]
Londoners less likely to be homeowners [Daily Mail]
London hotspots - fringes [About Property]
Rightmove and Savills - happy [Guardian]

The Rat and Mouse - it's about your house

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Mon
08
Jan

Government plans annual house inspections, tax on every home improvement [This Is London]
Commercial property - perhaps not so, er, commercial [Sunday Times]
Mortgage advice - two-thirds wrong [BBC]
Vendors who choose leaflets [FT]
Internet schminternet... the big boys win again [Telegraph]

The Rat and Mouse - so you don't have to

Rat and Mouse readers - we love you! [November 2, 2006]

20070108Roea This week, the Rat and Mouse brings you exclusive news of a brand new website aimed at helping separate the pros from the, er, cons in UK estate agency. On the ground level, The Register of Estate Agents (ROEA) is another professional body with optional membership... four more letters for participating estate agents to add to their business cards. But it differs from the disappointingly toothless NAEA and Ombudsmen schemes in one very important way. It allows participating buyers and vendors (who can register for free) to comment on their actual real-life moving experience and leave ebay-style feedback for agents. So far, there are 7,000 pre-registered estate agents and 1,000 offices on the site. Presumably, ROEA will be working toward that tipping point after which it becomes noticeable if an agent is not a member.

So will the ROEA succeed? As the comments on the ROEA blog suggest, there's a need for this kind of thing, and the good estate agents (of which there are many, many thousand) will stand to benefit from such a scheme. As will potential vendors at the stage of choosing an agent... the site includes a nifty searchable Googlemaps mashup marked up with participating agents. Click the agents for a CV and (soon) comments. There's even talk of compensation for disgrunted movers... up to £5,000 if a ROEA-accredited agent fails in their duty (in the opinion of an independent regulatory body).

The Rat and Mouse applauds the ROEA's courage if it's really going to allow users to say what they wish. Home-moving is a high-tension, high-pressure area in which movers can be prone to misinterpretation and unrealistic expectation. I'm not sure I'd relish being held legally responsible for this kind of chatter... making it legal, keeping it fair, checking out attribution (after all, if estate agents can steal each others' listings...) could be a full time job if the website turns out to be as successful as it deserves. However, the Rat and Mouse also happens to know that the force behind ROEA is a highly experienced ex-agent himself, who has seen in other successful and interesting homesale and property search innovations since hanging up his car keys. Presumably, he knows what he's doing.

In the meantime, we will watch with interest, and bring you the very best of the ROEA's reader comments as they come in.

20070108Spencer

Fri
05
Jan
Hi As a developer/investor in Central / SW London, I spend a lot of money on agents fees. I don't begrudge it if they add value but it seems that most of my purchasers are coming to them through Primelocation so I am paying 2-3% for a referral and viewing service. That's an unacceptably large share of my margin. There is little use these days for or value added by boards, shop fronts, printed details - I can do these myself. Likewise the viewings. Generally, I shouldn't need their market knowledge or I shouldn't be in the business. I and, I feel sure, many other professionals would welcome paying a fixed or low %age fee solely for access to referrals from the websites. For Primelocation to object to this would, surely, be anti-competitive and grounds for referral to the OFT? I wonder whether any of your agent readers would consider this a reasonable model for extra business?
Thu
04
Jan

Ed, over at property search portal Nestoria, has crunched some data to discover their top ten London searches of 2006:

20070104Searches

Interestingly:

We see no evidence of a boost in property interest for East London in anticipation of the 2012 Olympics.
Tue
02
Jan

... and seen that it's good:

"Over the last twelve months we have been closely monitoring the property portal market and coupled with this, we have conducted our own market research. 60 per cent of our buyers and 50 per cent of our tenants will look at a property portal before any other activity when looking for a new home and overall, 83 per cent of our buyers use a portal as part of their search. We have taken a very measured approach to online marketing and through our analysis it is an undeniably powerful tool in today's market place."

No shit. And it's for this reason that all KFH's London listings are now available on both Rightmove and Primelocation. We're just surprised it's taken so long.


 


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