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Seems counter-intuitive but the competition is heating up in the world of online real estate search engines even as the housing market slowdown deepens.
Roost.com, which entered the fray with a beta launch on Jan. 23, is similar to the many existing listing sites such as Trulia.com and Zillow.com. But Roost is trying to differentiate itself with its user-friendly interface and ability to easily search for new, used and for-sale-by-owner listings without having to navigate through a local broker’s Web site or share contact information with an agent.
It doesn’t cover the entire country; it focuses only on the cities where it has comprehensive listings through its partnerships with local Multiple Listing Services. The company says it has plans to expand beyond the initial cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boise, Idaho, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Minn., Orange County, Calif., Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., Sacramento/Modesto, Calif., San Diego and Washington D.C.
The site’s key feature is its Google-like search engine (Eventually you’ll be able to narrow results with free-text searches for terms such as “hardwood floors” or “pool”). Another cool feature: You can locate a property using a Google Maps interface where you can also find the nearest school, café, library or grocery store.
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.