We’ve written a lot on our blog about the wars between competing online real estate sites. Data from Hitwise, which measures online traffic, shows it’s still on open-ended fight. The top dog in the game is Realtor.com, which with the backing of the National Association of Realtors, has the broadest list of homes for sale. Still, the site captured only 8% of visitors to online real estate sites in April.
Number two on the list—with 3% of visitors—was a bit of a shocker. RealtyTrac specializes in homes in foreclosure, a relatively small slice of the 6 million or so homes sold each year. RealtyTrac was recently the subject of an article in the Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/business/local/la-fi-foreclose28may28,1,7573701.story The story noted that RealtyTrac’s data overstates the number of people actually losing their homes, since the company tallys up homes in the foreclosure process, i.e. owners are behind on their payments. Only a small percentage of those homes are actually taken back by lenders.
Sites you’d think would be top draws—Yahoo, Zillow, Re/Max and Coldwell Banker—are battling it out with just 2% of the traffic each. Interestingly the average online visitor to a real estate Web address spends about ten minutes on the site. That suggests most visitors are just checking out a particular property and not extensively researching homes for sale in a city.
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.