Is property going social?

I’ve got a feeling something interesting is happening to the way real estate operates online in the UK. Anecdotal evidence is emerging that social networks like Facebook and less conventional startups are perhaps starting to find the chink in the armour of the traditional property listing market here.

In particular, Facebook Marketplace is starting to be used by niche poperty agencies like Pimlico Flats, more successfully than the usual online suspects like Craigslist and Gumtree. That latter site has had problems with other aspects of its site like, having to dump dating because of spam and scams. The same problems are plaguing Craigslist in the UK, and this is something that Pimlico Flats picks up on in a blog post on the subject. The ability to verify Facebook users turns out to weed out the scammers.

At the same time, although Findaproperty and Rightmove remain strong, less conventional sites like Globrix, Nestoria, Zoopla (see below) and even niche social networks like Asmallworld are being used.

Zoopla, which is venture backed, is now innovating with realtime auctions.

Today it’s partnered with US auction site Real Estate Disposition to launch real-time online bidding for property auctions. Property agents will get a 0.25% of the purchase price (in addition to normal commission. About 150 homes (worth £15m) will get auctioned beginning on February 11 and auctions will be weekly thereafter – note that less than two homes a week are sold by the average estate agent branch in the UK.