Sunday, February 04, 2007

Extate is quietly developing a great property service

There are a rash of new competitors in the UK property search space, looking to offer consumers a better experience than the existing portals like Rightmove.

The most interesting seems to be Extate, primarily becuase of the quality of the customer experience in terms of freshness, accuracy, navigability and product innovation - in addition to the standard Google Maps mashup, they also make great use of RSS, Skype integration and are smart enough in their crawling to derive useful semantics like tags (ie. garden, fireplace, etc) and price per sq ft.

Extate are also interesting because the team comes staright out of Imperial and it greats to see young entrepreneurs starting businesses in London straight out of college - it's about time :)

One good example of how their serach knocks the socks off the competition is their ability to allow you to search by street.

Click on the images below to try searching for "Englands Lane, first on Extate:

and on Rightmove - the incumbent 800 pound gorilla - nothing....

and on Nestoria - a new player in the UK, a copy and paste of Trulia in the US - nothing....

Extate has a long way to go in developing their business, but they have one thing really going for them right now -- a great product and a clar desire to innovate rather than copy and paste.

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At 2/04/2007 12:07:00 pm, Blogger Ed said...

Hi Saul,

Ed from Nestoria here. Great to see yet another person opening their eyes to the innovation happening in the online property space in the UK.

One comment though: basing relevancy on one query is a questionable method. It does look like Nestoria performs poorly for "Englands Lane", but I can happily point you to many, many queries where extate or others offer no or few results (try "Everton" for example).

Query selection is an easy way to introduce bias into testing. The only reliable method is to closely monitor all queries (or at least a representative random sampling), see what people are actually searching for, and continually try to improve that experience.

At 2/04/2007 10:44:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you live on 'Englands Lane'? There are 5 streets by that name in the UK (BA22, IG10, LU5, NR31, NW3) and Extate shows only one. If I lived in BA22 I would find the results unrelevant. There are over a thousand 'High Street' and the results from all over the UK get mixed together.

You found a good result for your search. I live near Archway (London) and Extate doesn't find it. Nestoria and Rightmove give results. The nestoria spellcheck is nice BTW: I can search for 'arckwaay' or 'archwy' and I get 'Archway'.


At 2/04/2007 10:53:00 pm, Blogger Saul said...

Thanks Ed and Markus for oyur comments. Both of you make great points and I've invited at the guys at Extate to comment.

In general, I agree that completeness of coverage and responsiveness to queries are two key factors in a great serach service.

This space, as Ed points out, has been hot for some time but I think we are at the early stages in terms of sophistication.

What I like about Extate is that they seem to be taking a somewhat original approach to the space in terms of features and UI. But looking forward to seeing how everyone - and we should mention, Zoomf and Ononemap as well - builds businesses round the best experiences.

At 2/04/2007 11:24:00 pm, Anonymous de Jager said...

Ed & Anonymous,

Top of the evening to you both!

Some thoughts.

(Ed) There is a distinction between understanding a query and returning suitable results. Whilst it is true that we currently haven't any properties listed in Everton, it is not true that Extate doesn't understand the query. If you switch to map rather than list view then this is made clear. The point which I think Saul was raising is that Nestoria doesn't understand the "Englands Lane" query.

(An) If you're looking for Englands Lane BA22, then you're more than welcome to type exactly this into the search box. We currently haven't any properties precisely on this road, but if you switch again to map view you can see what's nearby -
All the other Englands Lanes are handled similarly.

Take care, and
Best wishes,


At 2/04/2007 11:31:00 pm, Anonymous de Jager said...

PS Archway is handled in the same way by switching to map. And, Extate's suggestion engine similarly handles the typos you've offered.

At 4/08/2007 03:53:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the site, but I am wondering how does the site match the tags it collects when crawling to the correct position on the google map?


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