Tuesday, 29 April 2008

We are hiring

ColdFusion Developer Role

We are looking for a seasoned ColdFusion Developer to work in our fun and friendly London Battersea office. The suitable candidate will join our small team of developers and work directly from our office.

We are looking for someone who can work well within a team but also micro manage themselves. The primary role will be the advancement of backendapplications and developing front end mashups. We develop in a Windows 2003 sever environment, with ColdFusion 8, and SQL server 2005.

Additional skills (but not required)
* CF server administration
* RegEx
* ISAPI rewrite
* Javascript/jQuery
* Flash
* Flex

If you think you can do it, prove it to us. Send us an example, code, a design, an idea, something inspirational. Oh yes, and a copy of your CV so we can ask you awkward questions about your hobbies. careers@propertyowl.co.uk

Monday, 28 April 2008

Findaproperty and Primelocation

My earlier post mentioned PropertyFinder, but I am now informed that Findaproperty and Primelocation are merging to be one.

More as it happens!

Friday, 25 April 2008

PropertyFinder and Primelocation

Hot on the heels of the PropertyFinder and Hotproperty deal last week (as predicted on this blog in earlier posts), I hear a rumour that Primelocation are next to merge with PropertyFinder.

More to follow, but these changes are surely the first moves in reaction to search engines such as Globrix making big noises, the developing market and the changing attitude of agents and users alike.

PropertyFinder may just be stealing the march on Rightmove who have yet to react. Who will be left at the end, PropertyFinder, the search engines and niche players?

Competition is alive and well and will only benefit the agent and user.

As I say, full commentary to follow, but you heard it here first!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Sick or not – foreclosure tours

Two recent posts, one from 1000 watt and one from FOREM (have a look at the video) indicate the level to which some real estate agents have gone in an attempt to sell properties.

This doesn't bode well as here I am prophesying a less high street dependent, more online, small agency model in the UK and a more internationally similar model, but if this is the future then do we want it? Indeed, I can imagine some UK agents wouldn’t last too long touting on certain London streets.

The market is not good here, but I have not seen any desperate measures such as highlighted in these blogs. On the contrary, we are seeing more agents looking at the technology and seeing how they can improve and promote their properties through new media (sorry, I don't really like this term). Perhaps this is our equivalent and is a significant move, i.e. away from the high street and online.

Anyway, I am trying to upload this topic to Squidoo and the monkey brain fight which is an excellent fun tool from the Seth Godin stable. If you feel passionate enough about this or any other subject go and sound off and have a fight if you dare.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Previous Post Update

Thanks to all for comments. Fair point regarding the traffic/listings, slip of a late night button, sorry. In the circumstances, we picked up on this point and added a comment discussing traffic and the like.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Globrix gunning for top spot

Property technology posts that Globrix is number two in terms of traffic, just behind rightmove.

This is excellent news for agents and all in the online property industry as it shows clearly that users have adopted the new generation of property search engines and therefore agents no longer need to spend vast sums on the old marketing portals.

What will be the response of the marketing portals I wonder? They have already been developing technology to try and compete with newcomers, but the new generation of property search engines are beginning to make themselves heard. Indeed Globrix, Nestoria and Zoomf alike are all chipping away at the traditional marketing portals and it is surely only a matter of time before we see realignment, mergers and takeovers happening within the established market.

I may sound like a broken record, but now is the time for agents to invest in their websites, invest time in very basic SEO work and ensure that their sites and their properties are found easily by the search engines. Come and see us!!

This change in the industry opens the door for more development, much of which is already out there waiting to be embraced by agents. Now is the time ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

“Far less reliance on selling tools such as the Internet”

The above is a quote from the head of residential sales at Savills on the front page of the FT Weekend House and Home section this weekend (5/6 April) which ran an article titled ‘we’re back to having to work hard’.

Notwithstanding the incredulous expression this headline provoked, some of the comments contained within require further investigation. The article interviews two senior agents from two prominent firms, Savills and Chestertons.

Two comments from Paul Jarman of Savills require closer inspection, namely: “…the role of the agent has returned to that of best friend, confidant and business partner, with far less reliance on selling tools such as the Internet…” (my emphasis) and

“… there is already a lot less reliance on the Internet and more personal contact talking to vendors about pricing and buyers about paying … two years ago we were reliant on computer systems; now it is about contact and communication…”

Ignoring the sad omission that agents may have neglected their customers in the past, the above comments are troubling. To label the ‘Internet’ as a selling tool per se is to completely misunderstand the online market. Definitions and generalisations of ‘the Internet’ aside, I had thought that the majority of agents understood that embracing and utilising technology is at the heart of the future of residential property sales.

Indeed, many of our agents are well versed in SEO, understand the principles of online marketing and readily apply these to each and every property they sell. Of course, the agent should be best friends with the customer and anyone who has read my ramblings will realise that this is exactly where I see the industry heading, but by utilising the mass of technology available, not disregarding it out of hand. The market has changed dramatically over the recent years and continues to change at pace (think high street travel agent 10 years ago). See my post regarding the changes in mobile technology and real estate for example.

Much emphasis is rightly placed on communication between seller/buyer and agent, but communication is not just between the agent and the client, it is equally about communicating the property for sale through all available online channels.

Robert Bartlett of Chestertons comments that overheads will go up as “… vendors will expect advertising in glossy magazines …” Will they? Vendors are savvy enough to know that glossy ads are arguably no more than window dressing and I would hazard a guess that they would much rather see their property being pushed through other online media channels. Chesterton clients are savvy enough to know that coffee table magazines do not necessarily ‘sell’ their properties, they know advertising statistics, they know ROI and publication statistics.

The article begins by saying ‘…there is little sympathy for estate agents …’ and I wonder why when the response of these agents to a changing market is (a) put prices up and (b) abandon technology.

Thursday, 3 April 2008


A light hearted post for Friday.

Have a look at the poll to the right. Some of the worlds best know residents are on the move and looking for a property, but who would you want living next door to you, or not as the case may be? Have a vote, it is not as easy as it first appears.

To help with you decision making process consider the following, Amy Winehouse, Heather Mills, Robert Mugabe, Pete Doherty, Bianca Jackson.

Not in my back yard mate!!

Property photographs

There are a number of things you could say about the photo below, namely:

- the agents in question have no properties to sell
- no one looks in the window so why bother putting a photo up
- the photos are behind the blinds
- all of the above

I bang on about agents taking good quality photos and taking as many pictures of a property as their hard disk will handle, complete overkill, I love it and the customer loves it! I also spout theory about the high street agency changing, how we will all live in a computer and have chip implants very soon. So the picture above just confuses me. It is not a one off, I walk past this agency everyday and it is always the same. The blinds come up sometimes to expose posh desks and apple macs, but no pictures hiding behind the blinds.

What do I think as a customer, mmmmm.... no pictures, one of the above thoughts and just maybe I will bother to go and find them on the web. Moreover, what if I am selling, why would I even consider instructing these guys. Indeed, why bother with the office?! That is one very expensive advertisement!

I did not start this post to criticise, but having been on their website I can safely say that if they spent half of what they spend in office rent on basic SEO and usability, SEM, design etc on their site, they would be top of the rankings, found at the top of page one and generating a mass of enquiries and new instructions.

See you all for your chip implants next week!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

SEO and Property Search

'flat to buy in London'. Two questions arise (a) would anyone actually type this into a search engine and (b) what results are produced if one does?

Well, type it in and see what comes up. Yes, Property Owl comes in at the number one spot on Yahoo for this and a number of other similar searches. After only a week, how can this happen so quickly? In truth, it is just common sense and good url structuring. We are proud of our SEO/SEM work and it is a strength we can deliver to our agents.

The sales pitch aside, the nature of property search is changing with users demanding more from search engines, portals and estate agent websites through their search terms. Applying a philosophy that will allow users to find your site through general free speech searches will do you no harm at all.

Afterall, and here is the icing on the cake, the result is super relevant and precisely what the user was looking for.

Number one in Yahoo!