Nestoria, the privately funded vertical search engine, has just announced that it can now provide housing details nationwide. Nestoria see this as the next step on their path to make it as easy as possible for people to find properties across the UK. Nestoria make their money by selling advertising, instead of charging estate agents to list their properties.
“We’re a search engine that gathers property listings. We don’t sell houses, we don’t sell mortgages, we don’t sell anything. The same way that search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN help you find websites you’re looking for, we help you find exactly the property you are looking for. Like other search engines, we gather our data from across the web.”
Like OnOneMap, Extate and Zoomf; Nestoria is a mashup of house listings with Google Maps. What’s most interesting about all of them is the fact that they are each at different stages of their developmentFor example, OnOneMap is the oldest, being the grand old age of one now, and has very good UK coverage of properties and has really integrated advertising into the user interface without it being over bearing but I do find the need to click on every housing icon a little labourious now. This is where the newer sites, I think have improved on OnOneMap (OOM).
With Extate I like the really simple search engine and the way it lists the housing results so that you can dynamically filter them in the browser to find just what you want but as I said before this site needs to better integrate itself with a mapping provider. In fact as the mapping integration is so poor with MultiMap, it would be nice to see Extate integrate with either Yahoo or Microsoft maps just to differentiate itself from every other Google Map mashup site. Extate like OOM has very good UK housing coverage but OOM still has the most extensive coverage of all. What isn’t clear is the revenue model for Extate and/or its advertising strategy.
With Zoomf, it has gone one stage further than both OOM and Extate. Firstly the initial search bar is an Ajax service much like Google Suggest, so that as you type the name of a place it dynamically delivers a list of housing suggestions which you might like to click on. Zoomf has also integrated the housing results list with the Google Map very well. They are displayed side by side, making it quick and easy to see the property’s details and its location on the map in the same browser view. At the moment Zoomf only covers the London region and its advertising model to generate revenues is not as clear as OOM.
And finally we come to Nestoria which i think has leap frogged them all. It too uses a Google suggest like Ajax search bar to make housing suggestions as you type. It too lays out the housing search results side by side with the Google Map but again I think Nestoria has moved the genre on one stage.
This time Nestoria allows you to overlay a number of other data sources – pubs, schools etc using the Google KML format onto your chosen map view. This is great because being able to see the additional data sources reminds me of UpMyStreet.com which allows you to search for information about the local schools, crime statistics and council tax bands etc. in your prospective new home’s area.
This flexible data overlay model should allow Nestoria to partner with multiple other relevant data sources. Of course because the other sites also use Google Maps in their mashup, there is nothing to stop all of them implementing exactly them same feature in their future versions.
Having said all of that about each site I still have a problem with all of them because none of them use the hlisting microformat standard and that includes the source content provides such as – Foxton’s, Hampton’s etc. whereas sites like CraigsList, Edgeio and Dealtagger
Below is an example of a Georgian property for rent in Reading costing £515 per month which comes free on the market in October. This markup would make it easy for sites like http://kitchen.technorati.com/ to use its search engime to find them. I’m fact instead of being aggregators each of these housing sites should be microformat search engine with all of the mashup features they offer today. A great example of a product listing site in the UK is DealTagger more about them later.