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The New Wave – Buying and Renting a House on Facebook. | Real Estate Blog – Niche Portfolio

Thursday, February 02, 2012


The first “fully-integrated” property app on Facebook, Property Place, already has 400,000 properties listed, even though it doesn't leave beta testing until the end of this month.

Unlike property-search giants Zoopla or Rightmove, you can advertise your property to sell or rent directly, with no agent in between.

The website uses similar property feeds to many other property websites, so it already lists a similar number of properties for sale or rent as Zoopla does, but that's around half the number listed on Rightmove, which says it lists one million.

At Property Place, as you'd expect, you can search for properties by post code, and then narrow your search by price, bedrooms, and type of property.

The app could lead to lower costs

The vast majority of the properties listed on the app currently come from Guardian Media Group data, which contains estate agent and developer properties and is updated every 12 hours. When the app goes fully live, which should be at the end of January, it will receive a boost from more estate agents feeding their properties directly to it.

The rest of the properties currently listed have been uploaded directly by sellers or landlords. This is the biggest feature of the property tool, in my opinion: that home owners and landlords can list their properties or spare rooms directly on their own Facebook pages, and that these will show up side-by-side with agent-listed properties in searches by post code.

Direct listings is certainly not a new idea, but other websites that have tried to build critical mass by allowing users to sell directly have attracted fewer listings and fewer visitors from buyers, and have not been able to compete with Rightmove and Zoopla.

If Property Place succeeds then, it will have a big advantage over the incumbent property search giants. By combining estate-agent listings with private ones through a popular social media outlet, I think it has a fair chance of success.

The good news for us is that this app could make it easier to attract buyers when selling directly, which means better deals for buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords, and fewer deals where a middleman takes a cut.

Landlords and sellers benefit from profile information

On top of that, I think that landlords, sellers and those with rooms to rent could benefit from checking out the Facebook profiles of any potential buyers or tenants. Conversely, tenants could check out the landlord to see if they can ascertain anything about their character too.

Use your network to sell your property

The idea is that people will also use their contacts – their Facebook friends – to look for potential buyers. And, if not their friends, then friends of friends, and out into the wider network.

If we're truly seven people away from everyone else, there might be something in this, particularly when you want to rent out a spare room. However, I still think that the easiest way to find a property to buy or rent would be to search for it by post code, rather than go through layers of Facebook friends.

Some of us probably won't be able to benefit in full from all the features, because we're not on Facebook, and many of the 30 million UK accounts are probably owned by people too young to be thinking about buying or renting. However, if this app is successful, Facebook could attract a fresh batch of property-hungry fans.

The idea for Property Place came from an Office of Fair Trading report in 2010 calling for more innovation in the property market, and it certainly seems to have done that.