Yannick Laclau, the CEO of Properazzi.com the global property search engine that covers over 4 million properties in 50 countries is our guest this week.
Yannick’s Barcelona based Properazzi.com was featured on CNN’s Business 2.0 yesterday. We asked Yannick to share a few thoughts with us, and he was kind enough to oblige.
Having gone through Properazzi.com, your claim of the coverage of 4 million properties in 50 countries & 32 languages makes you the largest property aggregator website (if not largest property website); can you tell us what Properazzi.com is all about?
Definitely. Properazzi is simply a property search engine through which people can access an unprecedented number of properties to buy or rent, free of charge. We work with tens of thousands of real estate agencies and property portals to present their listings on a single website. This is so that people wouldn’t need to spend hours trawling through dozens of sites, or looking for those sites in the first place. With 4 million properties, it’s getting to the point in many European countries where if a property isn’t on Properazzi, it’s not anywhere to be seen. Real estate agents worldwide are now approaching us without stop to get their listings on Properazzi. They love it because it’s free.
We’re also very serious about the 4 million figure. It’s not something we’ve just plucked out of the air. They’re all visible on www.properazzi.com. We work extremely hard on eliminating duplicates – instances where a property is listed on many sites – and improving the quality of listings. Our listings are refreshed at very short intervals, meaning you’ll always get up-to-date information. Ultimately, of course, a person is just looking for one property: the right one. Whether we’ve got 4 million or 5 million is trivial, but being able to present to people everything that’s available on the market is not. That’s about empowering people with information and choice.
How long have you been running Properazzi.com?
Properazzi was launched in March 2007 but I’ve been at the helm of creating the technology for at least 18 months prior to that. It was a challenging but rewarding process because we’re doing something that’s never been done before. Our search engine technology is built to read different languages, so if a property listing is in Latvian, our technology is taught to recognise that, translate it, and present it to a consumer in whatever format they prefer.
How big is your team?
Well, we’re based in Barcelona. We’ve now got about 20 people in the team: engineers, programmers, designers and real estate professionals. The team is very international, with at least 10 nationalities and 15 languages amongst us. What unites this diverse group of individuals is a love for real estate and the desire to create something that’s genuinely helpful for people, and not just another property website.
How would you compare to the likes of traditional online property listing portals like Rightmove, Viviun & FindaProperty
The word “traditional” is probably not the best way to describe these companies because they all provide a solid service and are very successful. Our focus is on the consumer, so we work with all types of publishers, including the “traditional” portals, because that way we can bring consumers the maximum possible breadth of quality listings.
How would you compare yourselves to new Web 2.0 start-up property listing aggregator sites like Extate, Nestoria, Zoomf & Ononemap?
I think startups are the corporate equivalent of stem cells – they all start off the same but then develop very differently. In our industry, we’re seeing startups beginning to specialise and find their own unique directions, including mapping, geographic focus, business model, application of technology to other verticals, etc. As time goes on, it makes less sense to make these comparisons because the only thing we have left in common is that we were all founded in broadly the same time period.
I would say that we’ve clearly differentiated ourselves with our focus on international listings, and creating a truly global platform for property listings.
Do you think these new Web 2.0 start-ups (yourself included) would spell the end of the traditional â€˜old’ style property listing portals? Or do you think it will be a healthy symbiotic relationship?
Look at social networking: first there was Geocities, then Friendster, then Orkut, then MySpace, today it’s Facebook. What’s interesting is that although the momentum and attention today is focused on Facebook, *all* the other sites I mentioned still have monster traffic and are viable businesses.
The fact is that the traditional portals are under no threat whatsoever from the startups. In fact, life has never been better for them. They’re all growing faster than ever, and very likely have many years of good times remaining even when new startups will start to succeed.
I see you have the most extensive global property coverage with countries like Morocco, India & Turkey covered. How did you manage to achieve this?
Our technology is highly transferable, so just as we’ve incorporated the UK, France and Germany, for example, we’re able to incorporate property listings from other countries. Morcco, India and Turkey are all interesting property markets in transformation.
Do you plan to venture into the almighty North American market? i.e. the US & Canada?
Yes. We’ve been expanding into new countries based on what our users are asking for, and we’ve been seeing demand for searching US properties. Maybe this has to do with the recent Dollar weakness, or housing price falls? Both factors would create the perception of buying opportunities in the eyes of foreign investors.
In any case, we’re looking into it and hope that Properazzi will begin offering North American properties by the third quarter of 2008.
What should estate agents as well as property listing websites do to their websites to make them “Properazzi” compliant i.e. to have your search spiders capture their properties?
The best thing would be to simply submit an XML-feed to us, which would allow us to receive a real estate agent’s listings directly. If that’s not possible, then we are also able to extract listings directly from a website using our technology. In this case, all that’s needed is the website address. In terms of what agents can do to make their sites more compliant, I would say clear website structure and clean presentation of information. These are things that we would recommend that real estate agents be doing for themselves in any case. Consumers are increasingly looking for properties online and having a good website is crucial to staying in business.
If you’re a real estate agent reading this article and want to see your properties on Properazzi, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you think XML standards would be established for property listings in the near future?
A number of different players in the industry have tried to enforce some standardization of listing data, but no single solution has really stuck yet. I’m sure it will happen someday, though, and perhaps there will be some way we can help out.
How do you tackle the almighty question of revenue generation?
Properazzi makes revenue from advertising. We already have a number of real estate agents who not only have their property listings on Properazzi for free, but also choose to advertise their agencies on our site. Real estate agents are reporting that traffic to their websites is increasing and we’re getting useful feedback.
Are you making money at the moment? If yes how?
Yes. Through advertising.
What are your future plans and what next should we expect from you guys?
Well, we’ve just expanded Properazzi to India this week with 30,000 new property listings. Over the next weeks, we’ll be working on improving our coverage of the Indian real estate market.
Similarly, we recently launched a worldwide real estate news section on our site, and in a couple of weeks, we’ll add the ability for users to submit their own content, creating effectively a community-driven real estate news platform. Many other features are in the pipeline, but more about those when we get there.
Thank you, Kunle!
Thanks again to Yannick for sharing his thoughts.