Homehound – a Real Estate Portal owned and operated by the Courier Group of Newspapers and the who’s who of franchise groups released a new portal (upgraded) for real estate agents across Australia.
The Courier Group have an established fleet of newspapers across the Inner Sydney area and are now dipping their feet into online advertising to supplement their guide(s).
The Home Hound Newspaper Guide in my opinion is short on information compared to the quality of the actual newspapers and the listings in them. However the power of the Internet allows agents to display so much more information.
One thing that did capture my attention was when you placed a postcode or place name in top bar you received a selection of place names and states/postcodes. This is a brilliant idea and one I am sure will be copied by other portals.
The site is clean and crisp and reasonably well laid out. Also I noticed a banner ad (I hate these), I understand the need for advertisers, but surely we have all learnt our lessons with banners.
The site is excrutiatingly slow. I have problems with my own real estate portal’s speed of delivery of listings, which I am working on rectifying and is taking some time. But I have a small budget/resources and this cannot be an excuse for the Courier Group. The meta tagging is also all wrong as well. Google does not like too much in the way of text for a header and every description is the same. This can be easily rectified but I doubt they have the know how. A simnple read of Google’s inclusion document will help!
The way the site was set up to begin with was that only basic information was displayed in search results and then it linked to the listings on the agents own site, which I thought was a good idea. This way agents who had set their site up correctly could easily determine the success of the external links back to their website through their stats pages.
It seems they have just gone back to the way all other portals do things and because of this I feel it will be a battle for them.
In my opinion they have blown a clear differentiator and are now just another portal. It is a shame because it would have shown a clear difference (a little annoying for consumer) and would have been easy to market to agents!