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We first profiled StreetEasy two years ago when I met the team at their office. StreetEasy is a neighborhood info and real estate aggregator. The StreetEasy team announced last week the launch of their Hamptons section. The service now handles the Hamptons, NYC and northern New Jersey.
From the StreetEasy team, “The East End of Long Island is one of the largest second home and seasonal rental markets for New Yorkers, with over 60% of those looking in the Hamptons and North Fork residents of New York, giving StreetEasy the built in audience interested in these properties. New Yorkers will finally be able to see listings in the Hamptons the way they have been accustomed to in New York, with full detailed history.”
StreetEasy says their service provides real transparency into the real estate market in the areas they serve. I like their rental listings – if you know the NYC apartment rental scene, you know it can make grown men cry. The detailed information about previous pricing can help with lease negotiation. They also offer other information about the area including crime stats, other rentals in the area, school info and a forum for each offering.
NY-based neighborhood info and real estate aggregator StreetEasy has announced the launch of their northern New Jersey site today. The initial counties in New Jersey include: Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic Counties. StreetEasy North Jersey includes sale listings, open houses, a new development directory, and recorded sales.
As I went through the absolutely horrible process of locating an apartment in NYC over the past couple of months, I used StreetEasy a bit. I found that while the site had a lot of information and a good bit of Web 2.0-style features, the search was just too slow. I commented about this in another CN post and within an hour, the lead developer from StreetEasy contacted me to discuss. We had about an hour-long conversation and my guess is that the Google Maps integration is what makes the site so slow. I suggested that the map be user-selectable as I don’t care much about the map as I do about the speed of the search. He took that plus my other suggestions and was very open.
There’s an absolute gap here in NYC and I will have more on this topic later this week. It won’t be pretty, I can assure you of that.
Check out my behind-the-scenes interview with the StreetEasy team at their midtown office.
Properazzi is a worldwide property search engine. They claim to be the "world’s largest" with over four million listings. The site is very Ajax-y and has very few pages to load. You can search on a location and find listings in multiple formats, and then use their search refiners to find exactly the home you are looking for. It is only a search engine so selecting a home or rental sends you to the listing site. The site is very smooth in form and function. One feature added in their latest release is, "More intuitive map-based search that applies a density map to Google Maps street and satellite views, and incorporates an auto-adjusting radius tool and automatic scroll."
My question is whether someone searching for a home or rental would rather search on a large, "cold" search engine or would a local search work better? For example, last week I met with StreetEasy who provides a very-indepth resource for house-hunters in NYC. Not just a listing, but school info, transportation info, crime rates, building information, etc. Perhaps you start on Properazzi and then as you go to the listing sites, find the local info there? Which do you prefer? Large and cold or local and in-depth? Personally I would rather find a great local resource (not a realtor’s site) to find out about the areas I am investigating. Properazzi might consider creating a city resource directory where they can link out to all of the great local real estate resources. And the local sites could link back to Properazzi for searches outside the locality. Might be a great trade-off.
Here is my video review of Properazzi:
I had the opportunity to meet with the team at StreetEasy yesterday. StreetEasy is a NYC-based company which is trying to make it easier for people to find homes and rentals in NYC. NYC is the worst place in the country (I bet the world) to find a place to live. The brokers and agents hold back as much info as they can and many lie and have little knowledge of the area. It's so easy to get into the business and the lure of large salaries and commissions draws in just about anyone. One of my close friends said that after the third day looking for an apt, she went home and cried all night. This is exactly what StreetEasy is trying to fix in NYC before expanding to other cities. Henry Blodget calls them a "cool" company.
Here are my notes from the discussion:
- The team is made up of all non-real estate people – about seven total, in a "coworking" space (it's actually a great looking space, see pics below)
- Michael Smith, CEO is a serial entrepreneur who most recently founded an analytics firm which was acquired by 24/7 Real Media
- The goal is to create a super-safe environment where home buyers can remain anonymous
- The site works for both renters and buyers
- They are the first company to take the nearly impossible to read city sales directory and make it consumer-friendly
- They released a development directory earlier this month – this is hot – you can see everything going on in a building – see what the person above you paid, gives you more negotiating power
- Competition in the Web 2.0 space comes from Trulia and Zillow – both show listings only
- StreetEasy gets listings from several places: some agents manually enter their listings, data feeds and they scrape listings from other Web sites
- They offer a premium service which is $10/month and provides additional features including name lookup (i.e. find out where x movie star just bought a condo)
- Monetization comes in two forms: advertising on site and featured listings (similar to SimplyHired's job featured listings)
- The search feature is very advanced including a "time to commute" feature which works on train and walking commute times!
The site is build on Ruby on Rails and uses mashups with Google Maps and HopStop. They have a mobile version and an iPhone version and are working on a GPS version once the technology catches up.
Marketing is mostly word-of-mouth as they are in the early adopter stage. My suggestions to them for marketing include hang tags on apartment doors with surveys (including prizes) and inserts in new home welcome gift bags. And expansion of their rating opportunities – add a "rate your agent" option. They must get out (offline) to really push this product, online alone might not be enough.
StreetEasy is looking at incorporating video along with more enhancements on the data side. We discussed the importance of making sure they keep people coming back to the site even after they bought/rented a home. Online kits on moving in would work well along with roomate options.
I enjoyed meeting the team and I could tell they are very passionate about what they are doing. The developers all sit very close to each other in a small room and you get the vibe that they are building something great that they all believe in. Lots of 24" macs with massive lines of code on each screen. As they gain traction in the market, it will be interesting to watch the reaction from the real estate cartel here in NYC. It's always great when a bunch of Web geeks creatlively destruct a market!