Online Start Ups

Lloyd Chrein, PartnerBack in September, we blogged about TweetLister a new and innovative real estate listing service that list properties for sale and rent via the micro-blogging platform – Twitter. Quite a lot has changed at TweetLister since our last feature. So we asked Lloyd Chrein (pictured on the right), a founding Partner at to update us about these new changes and share a few thoughts about TweetLister and he was kind enough to oblige.


A new website service called Easy House Exchange has been hailed as the new solution for cash stricken home owners in media. The service aims to connect home owners and developers with investors and buyers looking for a straight swap of properties or else upgrade your current home by paying a cash difference through Bovis the developers.

Joining fees are scraped until June 1st this year and you can browse the site for available houses. At present there are properties from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland on the listings.

Stefan von den Driesch, the CEO of; a unique Web 2.0 community for architecture, real estate and construction enthusiasts is our guest this week. Mainz/Germany based has been creating a buzz in the blogosphere. We asked Stefan to share a few thoughts with us, and he was kind enough to oblige.

What exactly is Can you please expand more on its concept? is built upon two cornerstones: First, it’s a vivid online directory of outstanding commercial real estate property worldwide. It’s based on the contributions of its users and taps relevant online resources (e.g. Flickr photos, Google maps).

Build your own city is the tag line. is offering you the opportunity to build your own city. Ourbania is a web 2.0 community of real estate enthusiasts with a passion for creating urban architecture – as real or surreal as you like. Basically, how the system works is you sign up and start creating urban developments using a combination of Flickr photos, manually inserted information regarding the developer, financier, architect etc, and build a theoretical development. These are the basic instructions:

Telstra paid US$254 million for a controlling stake in SouFun Holdings Limited, which runs one of China’s largest real-estate and home improvement websites, the company said Thursday.

Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, now owns a 51 percent stake in SouFun, and plans to use the acquisition to beef up its advertising business in China. SouFun makes money by selling advertising on its website. Telstra’s advertising arm, Sensis, will help manage SouFun going forward, the companies said in a joint statement.

The deal is also part of a broader plan by Telstra to expand its Sensis business beyond Australia and carry its intellectual property and management expertise to new areas, the company said.

The founder and chief executive officer of SouFun, Vincent Mo, will remain in charge at the website and retain his 30.9 percent share of the company. SouFun’s management team will remain in place after the deal, the companies said.

SouFun, which is already cash flow positive, is expected to post revenue of $52 million (US$39.7 million) in 2007, with a profit of A$18 million after excluding income tax, depreciation and amortization, according to the companies.

IDG News Service is a member of the IDG group of companies, which includes IDG Ventures, a US$1.4 billion venture capital fund that holds a 14.7 percent stake in SouFun.

Source: CIO

Related links:

“Since 2001, the share of home buyers using the Internet as an integral part of the home buying process has nearly doubled to 70 per cent”, said CAR.

But while the characteristics of Internet buyers and their traditional counterparts have started to converge, the estate agents have noticed ‘important distinctions’ between the two groups. “Internet buyers were younger, wealthier, better educated and more likely to be married than traditional buyers’, said CAR. “Internet buyers also reported greater satisfaction with the home buying process compared with traditional buyers”.

The comments come in 2006 Internet versus traditional buyer survey. ‘The Internet is changing the dynamics between buyers and their agents, as well as the way business is conducted throughout the real estate industry,’ said CAR president Vince Malta.

‘More and more consumers have high speed Internet access at home, enabling them to gather information on all types of products and services both quickly and easily. This trend has carried over to the process of buying a home. As a result, home buyers are more informed, have a greater sense of control over the process, and hold high expectations concerning how quickly they receive information.’

Overseas property investors should research the area in which they are thinking of buying well before visiting the country, according to the organisers of Property Investor and Homebuyer Show North.

Their ‘top tips’ on reducing the risk involved in overseas investment include:

Know your objectives
Know why you are buying and what you are hoping to achieve with the purchase. If it’s for investment, is it for short term capital gain to provide a one off profit over a particular time, or is it to provide long term regular income?

Sort out your finances
Work out how much you can afford to buy and arrange your finances, such as your mortgage, before you travel abroad to search for your property. This will ensure that you are ready to act immediately if you find the right property. Also ensure that all finances are arranged before signing any contracts and paying over a deposit.

Do not be hasty and stay focused
Stay focused on what you originally had in mind and stick by your objectives. See your chosen area at different times of the year to ensure that you like it whatever the weather. You could also give yourself a cooling off period to help ensure you are making the right choice.

Check the transport links and local facilities
Make sure there is a choice of airline routes and access points to your chosen area. People who rent property will want somewhere that is easy to get to and will often gravitate to those places with a nearby airport served by low cost airlines. People will also want to be near basic facilities such as restaurants and shops. Proximity to areas of natural outstanding beauty or tourist attractions, for example, will add to the property’s rental attraction.

Talk to fellow investors
Speak to people who have purchased in the area that you are interested in. If you are opting for a buy to let investment, you can learn a lot about rental success in your area and get a realistic idea of the likely income that will be generated.

Allow for the extras
The costs of buying a property abroad (for example, taxes, conveyancing, lawyers’ fees, agents’ fees and VAT) can be much higher than in the UK, so make sure you budget accordingly. Also ensure that you are aware of the costs charged by the legal and government authorities for purchasing a property in your chosen country.

Check the taxation and inheritance laws
Ensure you understand the tax implications for when you decide to sell in the future. You should also check the inheritance laws of the country where you are buying, as you many need to compile a separate Will.

Weigh up risk versus returns
If buying for investment, it is important to understand how comfortable you are with risk and investment accordingly. You need to be well informed and comfortable with the risk factor.

‘Property investment overseas can be hard work but the rewards are there for those who do the research and are willing to put in the effort to succeed. However, our overarching advice for overseas property investors can be applied to many things in life; use your head, do your research, seek professional advice and don’t act on impulse’, said managing director of VEF French Property Trisha Mason.