Someone is Thinking Outside of the Hound Box!

This afternoon I was lucky enough to receive a press release from Homehound highlighting the recent updates they’ve made to their website. I don’t often use Homehound (as the map search irritates me) but after seeing what they’ve done I must say I was impressed! From their press release:

Homehound Continues To Deliver!ย 

We’ve focused on creating unique, integrated opportunities to deliver the best property website for consumers, agents and their potential customers.

Homehound recently launched a host of NEW features, making the property search experience more enjoyable, with the best range of options.


Finance Centre – Where users can search for providers of credit cards, home loans, compare loans and obtain other information about borrowing. Let me say, this Finance Section brings to shame the websites and their functionality of most mortgage providers in this country.

Share Accommodation – Other major portals allow users to post free ads and Homehound has followed suit. But what’s different is, Homehound appear to have done a deal with a 3rd party company Easy Roommate to share their data in return for Homehound users entering their ads through the Easy Roommate website.

Walk Score โ€“ We all know what this is but for those who don’t, users can search the neighbourhood around a listing and receive a WalkScore regarding the properties location.

SMS Property info for FREE – Great if you don’t have internet access on your phone but want property details at a future date. Receive an sms with the property details to your phone.

Apply for Rental Properties – My favourite, rental seekers can now apply for a property through the Homehound website. Once again, Homehound have chosen to use a 3rd party company 1Form to allow users to submit rental applications. 1Form has been around for a few years but over the past 12 months has really begun to penetrate agencies and finally portals in Australia.

1Form allows rental seekers to submit an online rental application for a property which is then emailed to the property manager. If the rental seeker applies for another property (as long as 1Form is featured) the rental seeker can submit their same rental application for that property. A great idea isn’t it, no more messy paper applications for property managers and the rental seeker completes one online application for all properties.

It’s terrific to see a portal improve their interface and the experience they offer their users. It’s even better when they do this by embracing 3rd party technology supplied by market leading companies. This proves you don’t need to spend thousands on developing technology which already exists nor purchasing companies which have created it!

1form, easy room mate, Homehound, online rental application, portal features, Walkscore

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About The Insider

Ryan has been involved in the real estate industry for a number of years. During this time he has operated web based real estate businesses along with provided consulting to the real estate software development industry. Ryan operates Agentpoint.com.au and is actively involved with the design and development of real estate systems, software and web sites in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

20 Responses to Someone is Thinking Outside of the Hound Box!

  1. Greg Vincent April 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    One fundamental mistake Homehound have made that they should rectify immediately is with their banner advertising.

    When you click open the banner ad for the Smith Family Appeal it opens up in a new browser.

    When you click any of their other banners they open up within the same browser, ultimately sending people away from their site.

    This would have to be effecting their bounce rates & the length of time browsers spend on their site.

    If I was an advertiser I wouldn’t be too impressed either because lots of people will click the back button to get back to the properties on the HomeHound site.

    Surely, this can’t be good for any party, especially the agents advertising their listings on the site.

  2. Peter Ricci April 29, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    “…I love it! Fantastic, original setup… recommending it to family & friends… I

  3. Glenn Rogers April 29, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    One of the most popular suburbs in Melbourne is Kew,.

    Homehound have one listing in Kew.

    Why would anyone use this site.

  4. Craig April 30, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    Glenn, your observation is interesting. I too went to homehound and typed postcode 3101 (Kew) and found only 1 property. I am sure homehound has done better than this in the past.

    Peter, regarding the quote, no one believes any quotes on websites or products. No one is dumb enough to believe they haven’t just been made up by the marketing staff who have asked permission to put someones name against them.

  5. Lara April 30, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    Every agent in Australia should list their properties on homehound.com.au as i’ve just been on their site and its free.

  6. Peter Ricci April 30, 2009 at 11:28 am #

    Craig, here is a difference

  7. Glenn Rogers April 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Just looking at Google results for “real estate” search and there’s really nothing apart from REA and Domain that are worth a look in.

    If you search the other sites all you do is deprive yourself of most of the listings in the area you’re interested in.

    The only other one worth looking at is http://www.realestateview.com.au for Vic only, they have a very good spread.

    Being able to list for free means nothing because it’s the actual content thats worth the money not the web site, tell you what I’ll build a residential portal if everyone will agree to come on for free, I’d make millions.

    Listing on a site free or not is only worth the time to place your listings there if the site has enough traffic, and I would judge the traffic on what I percieve the site would get, NOT the BS dished out by the promoters.

    The industry sites such as First National are ok but only because it’s free tot members and promoted throughout their netwrok.

    It’s a 2 horse race I’m afraid and all agents must be on both of them.

  8. James Hannan April 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    To The Insider, thank you for recognising the work completed by the Homehound team – it is appreciated.

    I thought I would talk through some of the comments under the article, communication like this helps us better our offering, and who better to have it with than people in the industry, this is a great forum for this type of discussion.

    Greg Vincent, I agree with you completely and have our ad ops team checking this now – thank you for bringing it to our attention, this will no doubt help boost engagement metrics and retention rates.

    Peter Ricci, mate, I agree with you – it sounds bogus, but believe me it is not, we get quite a few emails like this from users – it was sent last year after we re-launched – I am not one to send correspondence with false claims in it, but understand where you are coming from.

    Glenn Rogers, around the lack of listings in Kew, I have spoken to the team and they tell me this suburb is havily serviced by independents, not the larger groups. While we have a good base of independent agents, we are clearly not strong in this suburb. This fact alone is reason enough for all those independents to jump on board, it is free, and if we can achieve a level of listings that is seen to compete with the top 2, we can shake this space up and make some waves. We have over 200,000 listings, which we feel is a competitive number, we just need further support of the industry to make headway towards our shared goal.

    Glenn, in regards to your second comment, I respectfully disagree. Homehound has a solid unique browser base, and generates real leads to many agents, every single day. Those leads are leads that they may not have recieved if their listing was not on Homehound. Where is the harm in being listed, if it is a free service and it is generating real leads and enquiries to agents. Shouldn’t agents be doing everything they can to sell their vendor’s properties – especially in a market such as the one we are in.

    As far as traffic numbers, jump on Nielsen and check them out, in my opinion, our figures aren’t bad, and they are real people who want to buy property.

    Homehound will continue to service those agents who feel there is benefit in the service we provide. We are commited to offering agents a free industry alternative and hope the support we are seeing continues so we can continue to broaden and better our product offering.

    Thanks,
    James.

  9. Glenn Rogers April 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    James, didn’t mean to be too negative, just calling it as I see it, one very important point in your favor is that if everyone had my attitude and just listed on the the big 2 then they would have nothing in their way and would charge what they like.

    So it makes sense that agents should support you if only to keep the other 2 from taking over completely.

    You can add that to your sales spiel, free of charge.

    Good luck.

  10. Paddy April 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    James

    Can you explain the relationship between Homehound and PDS (Property data solutions)?

    How is NREFA involved in HomeHound, and similarly, REDC (real estate data coalition)?

    Could you also take us through the data protection/ownership policy which Homehound adopts.

    One issue which many independent agents in Australia have is supplying their data to their competitors. In this instance LJHooker, C21, Raine&Horne, Ray White etc… along with Property Data Solutions.

    Essentially, can you please identify all those companies involved with HomeHound, and articulate what steps you are taking to protect agents IP/Data from being provided to their competitors.

    Thanks

  11. Elahn April 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Just had a look at the homehound finance centre. How good’s this. About time a real estate portal provided home loan information for people like me.

  12. Sal Espro April 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    Good point, Paddy. Goes hand-in-hand with my questions on whether REA is paid for providing data to RPData who in turns sells it back to agents (when the ‘core’ value is the listing and what it sold for and not the ‘floss’ they surround it with).

    What is the ownership structure of Homehound, James? Did you take it over from the franshises or do they still have an involvement in the vane questioned by Paddy?

    Rgds,
    Sal

  13. Paddy April 30, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    Sal,

    Can you honestly imagine REA giving anyone anything for free? It would be a safe bet that RPData pay REA handsomely for the listings data.

    I have asked Max to get back to us on this, yet Max has suddenly gone very quiet.

    There is some information on REA and RPData here http://www1.propertyportalwatch.com/2009/03/realestatecomau-and-rp-data-enter-strategic-alliance/#comments

    BTW Sal – thanks for all the history on Property.com.au – it is a very interesting story.

  14. Peter Ricci May 1, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    James, great to hear from you. Yes, it grinds me a little, as you can tell!

    To me these sorts of comments (you are not alone in this type of testimonial promotion) just mean nothing – and your target are after all, agents – and they invented this type of marketing.

    Hurts more than helps in my opinion.Even if they are in fact real comments, even comments from people such as “B Smith. Coolum, QLD” really means nothing, needs to be from a company or recognised individual.

    Good Examples:
    B Smith. Ray White, Coolum, Coolum QLD

    Keep the features rolling in and make the message interesting and dump the fluff. Agents are getting smarter by the day and can quickly understand key implementations – features ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great to hear from you James:)

  15. Glenn Batten May 1, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Homehound is definitely getting better and is quickly losing its “dog” status however it needs to do something about traffic to be relevant and impersonating agents and trying to steal their traffic is not the way.

  16. Sal Espro May 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Hi Paddy,

    I think agents who are clients of REA are entitled to know how RPData is getting listings info so quickly (from REA?) and what deals are involved. If their listings are being used without authority, then:
    1. is copyright being broken?
    2. what is a fair fee for agents to be paid by REA for them providing RPData with each agent’s listing?

    Sal

  17. James Hannan May 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    Hi Paddy & Sal,

    In relation to your comments, I thought it best to address them in the open forum because they are questions we are asked fairly often. Homehound Pty Limited is 100% owned by Independent Print Media Group (IPMG), a privately owned media business.

    The four franchise groups are founding partners in the business through content distribution agreements. This relationship with them continues, and their involvement contributes a significant volume of listings to our independent free listing site. Under the relationship there is no exchange of any listing information back from Homehound to the founding partners.

    With PDS, we have a reciprocal marketing relationship. We provide listing information to them, in return we get a set of services back that we hope, when implemented on our site, will provide a great experience for agents and consumers. We are a free site, and need relationships like these to better our offerings.

    Best,
    James.

  18. James Hannan May 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    Glenn, I have just seen your comment linking to an old article. I thought I should tell you that as the article correctly sights, it was our SEM agency trying to boost visitors they delivered to our site. This does not mean I condone it, in fact quite the opposite – It frustrates me to no end to see it happen, to any brand, and can only apologise again. Hope there is no bad blood.

    James.

  19. The Insider May 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    James, thanks for replying to the readers. Like most readers, I’m also very pessimistic when it comes to testimonials on websites. To me these are about as useful as a personal reference is to a property manager.

    “We provide listing information to them, in return we get a set of services back that we hope, when implemented on our site, will provide a great experience for agents and consumers.”

    Sounds like you’ve got some interesting things planned for the future.

    I share the same frustration as Sal Espro does in regard to portals taking agents sold data and sharing/selling it with sales data companies. It’s the agents hard work which resulted in the sale so why then are they required to purchase this data at a future date. Domain have started the ball rolling with their Domain Property Data and it will be great to see other portals extend this.

  20. Flatmate Finders Share Accommodation August 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Ryan, I just check the share accommodation section of Homehound and it looks like they’re no longer sharing listings with the website you referred to in your article.

    I’m not sure what happened there, but it’s likely the deal fell apart because people don’t go to real estate websites to find share accommodation, apart from realestate.com.au.

    Regards, Guy

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