With Myhome soon leaving the local landscape soon I came to thinking of what would make the ultimate portal. I know Peter has posted on something similar before but I thought I would throw my hat in the ring and mockup what I believe would be the perfect portal from my perspective as an agent.
Keep a familiar navigational style similar to current portals however utilise the latest web 2 technology to improve functionality without sacrificing usability. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, just make it better and go faster.
Bandwidth and storage is cheap these days so the site would feature high resolution photos and full screen slideshows.
Create an upload centre offering multiple ways for an agent to upload their to the portal properties including an api, xml feed, and even the option to scrape the agents site as a last resort. Individual agents would be encouraged to petition their data pushers to connect to the system.
The portal would create an industry schema for the transfer of real estate property data. The schema would be openly offered to anybody who wished to use it and other industry players would be invited to assist with its improvement.
Sharing with Consumers
There is so many options to share data on the web these days. I would create plugins for use with all range of social networking sites and internet tools. Things like Plugins for Myspace and for Facebook, Widgets for Google Desktop, Google Maps content, Gadgets for Windows Vista and Customisable RSS feeds so the public can plugin to whatever hardware or software they want.
Sharing with other Websites
Create an API so other websites can plugin content to their own sites. As an example a webmaster running a community portal can copy and paste some code and now serve up properties from my portal. These plugins will still show advertising from the site.
You will not be able to pay to be ranked higher. You will not have to pay to get any extra service. What is available for one shall be available for all except for maybe beta testing of upcoming features. Third party companies would be encouraged to provide extra services to agencies capitalising on the data with the only proviso that it enhanced the solution to the agent rather than detracted from it.
Agencies will be given no warning before penalties are applied for cheating the system. No preferential treatment shall be given to any office no matter their size, listing numbers or franchise affiliation. If duplicate properties are detected then the agency shall first get a warning with further detections resulting in an escalation of penalties resulting in a total ban. Far too many infringer’s are let off because the represent the best part of $200 per week in income.
The model would revolve around charging companies who wanted to advertise to the visitors to the site rather than charging the data providers. Agents would not be charged unless they wanted to pay for specific advertising on the site. An agent could pay for ads on the index pages promoting themselves to sellers. They could not promote themselves on specific properties. The ads will be minimal and aesthetically fit into the design of the portal.
The ad system would allow advertisers to geo target their advertising down to the level of suburb and advertisers will be charged only a on successful per click basis. A building and pest inspector, solicitor or financier working in just the Hamilton area of Brisbane could have his adverts shown just on property for sale in the suburb or district. A company could also equally choose to target to whole regions or states as well.
The advertising module would provide the flexibility so that advertisers could self subscribe to the advertising with monthly budgets and automatic charging of credit cards. The advertising would allow for the use of fixed size images or text.
Negotiations would be held with all the major data providers to provide agency data, but there will be no salespeople on the ground trying to flog advertising or subscriptions. A minimal operations team with virtually no salesperson ensures costs are kept at a minimum. Minimal staff requires virtually no executives or sales team salaries, bonuses and ancillary costs. No regional managers, state managers and national managers. No cars, travel, telephone, accommodation and expense accounts. No convention sponsorships or industry panels to fund.
The rollout process until launch would remain very tight lipped with no fanciful claims setting expectations too high and providing ammunition for competitors to feed upon.
Initial and ongoing promotion would never involve costly traditional media. No newspaper advertising billboards, tv shows, tv adverts or anything similar. Viral marketing techniques would be built into the system encouraging visitors to pass on and share the website and specific properties with friends via emails and social networking tagging such as del.ico.us, digg, stumbleupon, google bookmarks and others.
Free advertising coupons (lets say for $50 worth of advertising) would be provided to potential advertisers on a limited basis. Only so many would be released with every successful person able to invite 5 or 10 other people to also get a free coupon.
All agents would acknowledge that their properties would be promoted though numerous means (as already mentioned) including gadgets, plugins, rss feeds etc etc but at no time would agents data be resold to third parties.
Everything would be tested, tested tested, and trialled with focus groups before releasing. Nobody wants to release another Myhome that whilst being a vastly superior site on a technology level, it was a site that visitors hated with a passion.
Now here is the big question! Would such a portal work in the current landscape? How much would it cost to create?