Unveiling Zoopla, our new online real estate play



Just coming out of stealth mode, here's our latest endeavour in the online world: Zoopla!

Logo_2 Founded by Lovefilm / ScreenSelect co-founder Alex Chesterman and Lovefilm CTO Simon Kain, Zoopla! aims to provide "an edge in property" to its users.  Many players, including market-leader RightMove or "meta" upstarts such as Extate or Globrix have got the listings side covered.  What we aim to do is to provide a set of differentiated tools for every property in the market.  There are 26 million houses in the UK of which about 1 million are for sale at any point in time.

In this first release you can find:
- tools to help estimate your home for free
- tools to help you track sold prices easily to access all comparable transactions
- the ability for any user to "claim their home" and add granular data that helps refine the valuation estimate
- the ability for any user to provide data that helps improve the pricing tools and the database

One of the features I am very excited about is the ability for any homeowner to set a TemptMe! price.  Let the market know what you think your house is worth or where you might consider selling, and test the market without moving into sale mode.

We are also launching local community features, the first incarnation of which is the AskMe! feature.  Find out what locals schools are like or what neighbourhoods have got to offer, or become a local expert and help others find out about your area.

Our aim is to be a horizontal utility for the property market that helps all players do their job better.  This includes buyers, sellers, homeowners, "voyeurs" and agents.  For example for Agents we add the ability to list for free, to enhance their profile, to get easy access to historical prices, to become a recognised local expert for their coverage area and create a personal link with homeowners and buyers etc. 

The team is seasoned and pragmatic.  Alex was co-founder of ScreenSelect with William Reeve and later Chief Commercial Officer of Lovefilm, and Simon is routinely described as "the best techie in Britain".  He was responsible for succesfully merging the Lovefilm, ScreenSelect and VideoIsland platforms and previously built some of the global product management systems for Amazon.  I hope you will agree that for a first release product this one aboslutely rocks !  We are not trying to innovate for the sake of it and a number of features will remind you of Zillow and Trulia.  But I think the execution is elegant and optimized for the local market; I am sure it will do well.

We have a great list of high profile angels as well who joined us in the funding which I will talk about a later date.

SO... IS IT ANY GOOD ?
First off, the pricing engine beats the competition flat out of the water already today.  We have some serious intelligence on the algorithmic side to make this better than any tool out there.  Accuracy is high where data is available.

Having said that, accurate pricing is a difficult job, particularly in area where the housing stock is very variable (such as Marylebone which I used as an example below).   This is why the proposition is fundamentally a mix between top-down and bottom-up.  We need to be able to mix best in class analytics (which we have) with great user generated data to help us fill in the gaps in the available data.

THE MORE IT IS USED, THE BETTER IT GETS.  Inherently this is a very pure "web2" proposition in the original definition of Tim O'Reilly, where usage and contribution keep making the product better.

Users can help improve the pricing of their homes by providing data and refining the pricing estimate.  So this is fundamentally community driven, even though there is a ton of immediate benefits such as finding price paid data very easily and so on.

OH WHY DID YOU DO IT ?

I am very excited about Zoopla!  Property is an obsession in Britain and the market is screaming for a good data utility and pricing tool.  I think this is going to be naturally viral and drive some passionate debate, as what could be closer to your heart and wealth than the value of your home ?


Here are a few screenshots:

Screenshots2_3


Screenshots1_3

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14 Responses to Unveiling Zoopla, our new online real estate play

  1. Greg says:

    Needs Work!

    Just tried an estimate for a 2 bed flat in Notting Hill, W2.

    Estimate was £79,000. Thats pretty staggeringly wrong. By a factor of about 5 I would say.

  2. Greg says:

    Sorry my bad. Received a same day(Saturday) support response. I had entered sq foot rather then sq metres.

    Best of luck.

  3. This is one good example of what web2.0 can bring to you. Google MApa and high end API really make thigs play together

  4. Barry says:

    I thought that the estimates on Mouseprice.net were more accurate for properties on my street

  5. Great idea Fred — user input is exactly what has been missing from the UK property market. Maybe we can finally get the market to standardise on using price/Sq ft!!? I’ve claimed my house & passed it on to a few friends, let’s see how it goes.

  6. Fred

    Sorry but your ‘serious intelligence on the algorithmic side’ is not really very clever.

    See http://www.zoopla.co.uk/search/results/list/?asid=311257&st=RSTOE&phn=&ic=7DL&search_string=GU4%207DL&utm_source=

    as an example.

    No’s 2 to 8 are identical but Zoopla estimates them at between £642,000 and £815,000 – so one is 27% more than the other.

    Not so bright eh!

    And why not have quality aerial views like 192.com – Zoopla shows these houses as an empty field.

    Theory might be good but the execution is lousy.

  7. Wildhaggis says:

    Its a great idea, and a great site. I’m looking forwrd to how it is to be monetised.

  8. Grant says:

    The site looks very nice Fred… I’m a big believer in the open market model for real property. If people can book their own travel and trade their own stock…They can manage their own property sale. At least in the USA.

    Good Luck on the project.

  9. paitkenel says:

    this needs to be very community driven as the basic info provide is very weak and very inaccurate – i know the OX2 post code like the back of my hand, and the valuations are massively wrong – sometimes by factor of 2.

    Take address 49 Victoria Road ox2 7qf – valuation estimate £370k sold in January for £610k. Most other addresses on that road have no valuation info. Very poor frankly – need a better startign point than that – unlikely to revisit because the amount of work required is so significant that i doubt it will ever get to the point of adding value for me in the next 2 years by which point i will have moved on somwhere else.

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  11. I have been subscribed to zoopla as a user for a while now and the data has been quite accurate for my area. Must say though I now dread the monthly updates on how much prices have dropped in my area!

  12. we can trust on Zoopla as i have tested it and found quite accurate data. its really amazing.

  13. Alex says:

    I also trust zoopla, but for more precise information I use http://www.rankdesk.com which launched its first desk in London. (love it when UK tech is first to the market before the US)!

    Anyway for a VC, rankdesk is not as scalable as Zoopla because they rely on the Human Intelligence Tasks model to provide independent property reviews and rankings. Their Top10 is too addictive! I am hooked.

  14. I found Zoopla a little inaccurate. Plus what were to happen if a house in a row of houses were to sell at say £30k under the asking price. Would that mean that all houses within that row have a lower house value based on one sale?