Thursday, April 27, 2006

Five years Funda, a real estate site

Last Tuesday the site of the real estate agents’ association Funda celebrated its fifth anniversary. The site offers the complete offer and supply in the housing market. The company is a joint venture of the real estate agents’ association NVM and the newspaper publisher Royal Wegener.

Funda started the joint venture in January 2000 and went live beginning of 2001.
The website of the real estate agents’ association has become a market force with its offer of some 60 percent of the houses on the market. It is the starting point for house hunting. It is so popular that rival real estate associations have lodged a complaint, which was rekjected, about the monopolistic position of NVM. Presently two real estate agents are in court for illegally deeplinking. Funda started to expand internationally to Poland and Ireland.

The site started out as a collection of virtual posters. In the meantime the site has changed the way of house hunting, the way real estate agents put their house on the market and the adjoining business such as financing and design. House hunting is now done from behind the computer. No longer people are looking at classified ads in newspapers, window posters and posters on the lawn. They stay on average 17 minutes on the site and look at 30 pages. Also for real estate agents business has changed as people arrive more informed when they start house hunting or even bypass the real estate broker. They usually have a visual impression of the house and have done ball park figures concerning their mortgage.

I recently saw all the effects of Funda. As we were planning to move, we asked a real estate agent to take our house to the market and he did. Two days after taking the assignment the agent had the photographs and description on online on Funda. Within two days there was a line-up of viewers. In less than two weeks it was all over and the house was sold. On the same day we bought an apartment in another city. We had been able to see the interior and the outside view thanks to a VRML photograph series as well as photographs of the neighbourhood; also the mortgage had been calculated. So the visit to the apartment was a confirmation of the information we had seen on the site. Besides we could send e-mails with the URLs of the houses to our friends around the world.

The real estate site can also have a different function. Googling Funda, I saw that the site can also work to demythologise a fairy tale. Blogger Merel had created a pink view of life and the world, and painted herself as a princess. But when she mentioned that she had found the home where she was born, on Funda, readers of her blog were disappointed with the sober dwelling of their princess. I better forget to mention the link to our home (although smart readers will be able to find it easily).


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