Saturday, November 10, 2007

Site That Tracks Home Price Drops

Online entrepreneurs can respond to changing economic conditions with a speed unthinkable in the pre-web era. Witness UK startup Propertysnake, which helps buyers find properties whose priced have dropped. While the real estate downturn in the UK hasn’t been as severe as in the US, deeply discounted homes can still be found even in London’s most desirable neighbourhoods. Propertysnake makes the task of finding those homes easier. Users can search by region and by price. But Propertysnake also emphasizes the kind of information savvy realtors and property managers typically hone in on: the number of days a home’s been on the market, for example, the percentage that sellers have reduced their offering, and the number of other homes in the vicinity that have reduced their selling price.

Unlike websites maintained by real estate agencies, Propertysnake posts comments from those who’ve visited the properties. Site visitors may advise that a property’s poor state of repair or other circumstances warrant its price reduction or that the property’s discounted price needs to drop further.

It’s important to realize that sites such as Propertysnake actually benefit home sellers who need to unload their properties quickly. Before this type of information became available online, ‘fire-sale’ home prices were often known only to real estate insiders. Posting the information on the web actually adds to the number of potential buyers, which can speed sales and even lead to higher prices for sellers. The entrepreneurial lesson here is that opportunities avail themselves no matter which direction markets move. The key to success is figuring out a new and more efficient way to match buyers and sellers.

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