Is property going social?

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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.

  • Dave

    Mike, I just heard dictionary lookup going social!!!

    Anecqdotal > Anecdotal

  • Luke

    There are also sites like where users can sell a house without estate agents and without paying a penny of commission.

  • bill fischer

    We share your hunch that property will move social. A challenge is that the social graph, even twice removed, isn’t sufficiently large enough to generate demand on a single property.

    We’ve been using our semantic search technology to scan for property and auto listings and are seeing very little user adoption at present in these verticals. That being said, we faced the same issue to a lesser degree with jobs, and are building products in these verticals.


  • Marc

    Vivastreet also noticed an increase in a number of posted property for sale listings in the last few weeks..I believe people try to find free of charge alternatives to sell/rent their homes

  • Zoopla

    Last year we also launched AskMe! Q&A ( – our property community feature where questions can be posted by anyone and answered by ‘those in the know’ keen to share their local knowledge, including property professionals and local residents.

  • Tina Fine, soon in beta, is a social networking site for home buyers, sellers, renters and landlords in the US market to search and connect with one another without brokers. Disintermediation in the brokerage industry is inevitable, and price competition and variety will enter the market as the most sophisticated brokerage tools become available to everyone, on one site, at a low cost.

    • Chip Lamason

      The role of the agent is changing drastically with the democratization of information available to the Consumer. However, it is difficult to envision that agents’ roles in helping to manage transactions in the complex realm of property law will disappear. Also, the human touch seems to be a necessity in actually arranging to view a property. Our RE marketing firm anticipates that the trauma in the real estate market will shake out a lot of the traditional agents and bring on an influx of agents adapting to web innovations in the industry.

  • Antony Slumbers

    Social or not we’re still talking Estate Agent ! So economical with the truth etc etc – Zoopla calls itself the ‘UK’s Leading Property Resource’ but I’ve just done a search near me for houses between 600-900,000 and Zoopla list 11 whilst PrimeLocation has 70. Hardly the market leader then,

    And their fabled home valuer lists 2 identical houses at £592K and £790K

    The likes of tepilo are really redefining the market – all these others are still just ‘agents’ in disguise. Nothing really ‘social’ about them.

  • Ollie C

    Zoopla seem to be trailblazing in the UK, far more innovation coming from them than all the other UK property listing portals put together.

    We’re doing an online web app for landlords to manage their own properties., all built on

    It’s good to see quite a sluggish and sometimes old-school industry using new tools.

  • gareth

    This has been a long time coming. Once web tools afford sellers and buyers the ability to communicate effectively and connect properly, the sale negotiation is halfway there. check this out in South Africa. Beta site but once you’re logged into a specific apartment block or Estate you can see how a community like this can leverage new functionality to transact. Soon to be launched in Oz, Canada and across Europe.

  • Steve Waines

    Silly TechCrunch.. Some sites have been doing this for a long time already.. How about
    I have sold and rented a couple properites on Corkin. Its alot easier having an idea of who your are going to meet. Thats why I use social sites to sell my stuff.

  • duncan@oodle

    Firstly a disclosure, oodle run Facebook marketplace on their behalf globally.

    Pimlico have touched on an important point, that of transparency and reputation, elements that we beleive are key to successful marketplaces going forward. Knowing who you are buying and selling from and their reputation are key elements of any transaction. Who is the landlord and how they treat their tenants plays a key role when finding a flat. Similarly for landlords in finding a reliable tennant, what did the last landlord think of the them. Facebook is well placed to make deliver on this through its social graph, think of it as Linked in for comsumers.

    Naturally if anyone is keen to find out more about how facebook marketplace can helpp them with marketing their listings feel free to email me.

  • Murat

    Just wrote about this, concepted a mobile MMS idea that could help drive more sales (although the concept is 4 years old)

    Check it out

    I never considered that social networks would get enough usage for this sort of thing. Aggregators are definitely getting more traffic than the estate agents themselves.

  • David Tucker

    Interesting article Mike.

    We’ve certainly been looking at using Facebook marketplace, but we’re holding off until we find it easier to manage. Although we’re sure FB will get there soon – there’s so much possibility with social networking sites.

    In the meantime we’re utilising vertical search engines, these aggregators are making a real difference to SME like us…

  • David Tucker

    Oh, we’re a city centre niche site by the way ;-)

  • Matt launched late 2009 too – This once seems to have far more functionality in managing the property sale online than Tepilo

  • Greg Afarian

    Facebook’s Market Place is a great place to add listings. I have heard of many success stories and know that the Realtors that do use it like it tremendous and like you said it reduces the possibility of spam /scammers.

  • James Dearsley

    Interesting article and interesting to read the comments – I got the link from Twitter so that is one argument for you with regard Social Media.

    I have recently written about Social Media and Real Estate on my blog arguing that it will never “make a sale” but it will definately “facilitate a sale” and we need to make that distinction.

    It is the same as the discusions about the Internet in the 90’s. Agents were up in arms but those that adapted their business plans to accept the change benefited hugely.

    If you are interested read it here

    Best wishes and good blog techcrunch


  • Annabel

    Tepilo gets my vote – totally agree with Anthony above – they’re the ones that are really changing the way property is sold – and with great success according to the Telegraph this weekend.

    Have put our property up and got viewings the next day – would be great if this works out and is readily accepted as the way forward – they’ve made a great start though.

    • Danny Williams

      Agree Tepilo is leading the way for private sellers, great site and very straight-forward! As you’ve very recently opted to give an alternatve means of selling a try, I’d really appreciate your feedback on a site I’ve just launched, if it’s not too big an ask! It’s ‘similar but different’ and we see Tepilo as helping sellers realise that there are genuine alternatives to the conventional means of selling.

      Thanks in anticipation!

  • Brock Sheets

    There is a solution in coming in the US. will be live in a month or two, and offers completely free Real Estate transactions for both buyer and seller. You can check out the development on facebook or Twitter.

    • Brock Sheets


  • Mo

    Sites like are a good place to start for UK citizens.

  • Adriaan

    Property is going social – the challenge for established estate agents is to embrace this new technology and use it as their primary marketing tool to attract clients.

  • property

    Is Property really going Social?very interesting sounds to read…Nice sharing, Keep posting

  • Danny Williams

    Great article and some very interesting follow-up comments.

    I’ve just launched a business that I believe offers the best of both (ie private versus managed sales process) and would be very grateful for any comments and feedback from any of the obviously well-informed posters here…

    Social media is key to our growth strategy and in particular fb and twitter. Being fairly new to SM as a business marketing tool, I recently took a half day course with Gemma Went of Red Cube Marketing and have to say I was left speechless at the power and possibilities of these channels. Not cheap at £500 but the signs are it’ll probably be the best £500 I’ve ever spent!

    Kindly take a look at the site and let me have your thoughts

    Many thanks

    Danny Williams

  • Sean

    The way property markets operate today is very much similar to the way that bond markets operated 20-30 years ago: opaque, multiple layers of intermediaries (of highly variable quality), huge information arbitrage opportunities and high transaction costs. The digital revolution has completely transformed the way that market operates (well, not entirely in the US due to the great Wall St. oligopoly but that’s another story…) and I think we’re poised to see history rhyme in the property markets over the next ten. That’s why we invested in Zoopla. If you are interested in a more complete version of the above analysis I wrote a post called “The bond salesman and the estate agent: a modern day parable” earlier this year.

    • Danny Williams

      Great article… bit heavy for most perhaps but really like the approach and insight!

  • The Park Paradigm

    The bond salesman and the estate agent: a modern-day parable….

    Property markets are like bond markets with a 15 year lag. ……

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