Long before Zillow.com came on the scene with what often seems like wildly inaccurate estimates of home values and Google.com made a big splash with satellite photos of your neighbor’s pool, PropertyShark.com was slugging away in the online real estate information game. The company, founded three and half years ago by real estate investor Matthew Haines, lacks the star power of Zillow.com, created by Expedia founder Richard Barton, or the brand name of Google, but under ceo Ryan Slack, PropertyShark has been coming up with creative content. Earlier this year, it photographed every building in Manhattan. The site also lists air rights available above the buildings, neighborhoods where liquor licenses are prohibited and areas where subway usage is greatest, all useful perhaps if you are planning on building a skyscraper, or opening a bar or store somewhere. It also has phone numbers for property owners, gleaned from deed records. Also intriguing, PropertyShark has culled Census data to highlight neighborhoods where the most single men live. Again, this could be helpful if you’re looking to invest in retail or rental properties. It’s also an example of how technology is providing us with new levels of voyeurism and how smaller Web sites can create something unique to attract visitors. Some of PropertyShark’s features are free, but more detailed information requires a subscription.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.