Monday, March 05, 2007

Dutch real estate site Funda in trouble

The successful Dutch real estate site Funda has problems: the competition grows. This week the board of directors put the management of the site on hold. Funda has been set up by the Dutch real estate association NVM and Royal Wegener.

Funda started just when the internet market started to descend in 2001. However the site appeared to be an instant success as it collected the largest house offer nationally. The real estate association offers the real estate information, while Royal Wegener brings in the city and neighbourhood information, re-purposing its city information almanacs.

Over the years the housing market has been in a dip, but is picking up again since 2004. In 2006 I sold my house in Utrecht and it was put on Funda by the real estate broker. Within a day there was an offer on the house from people elsewhere in The Netherlands, who knew the neighbourhood, but did not know the inside of the house. With the photographs on the site they could get a good idea about rooms, bathrooms and gardens. The site did not just stop at advertising homes. It also started to publish information on interior decoration and other related subjects. Funda has a daily traffic of more than 220.000 visitors a day. In the meantime the company has started abroad in Poland and Ireland.

But as with every successful venture, there is imitation. So competition is developing. First the came the self service sites came selling real estate without a real estate agent. But competition came also from inside, from real estate agents, who published their own offer and grazed internet for real estate offers to fill up their database. Court case were instituted by Funda and mostly lost.

Now it looks like the real competition is heating up as the Rabo Bank and Talpa Media, John de Mol’s media company, including the broadcast station Ten, will start a real estate site. The cooperation is not surprising as Rabo participates in the venture capital fund of John de Mol. For the Rabo Bank it is interesting to go into the real estate info business as it wants to sell mortgages and insurance. Recently the Rabo Bank bought the real estate site (search for all homes) and linked it to its own site, which attracts 500.000 to 600.000 visitors daily. Talpa Media will use its cross-media experience to publicise the real estate offer.

Today another Funda competitor has launched with some vengeance. On the homepage, a comparison is made about the offer: Funda 99.072 houses; 117.204 houses (18 percent more than Funda). The site has a number of investors and uses the database of Makelaarsland (Real estate land), a competitor of the real estate association NVM. The servers of this site also graze all the housing sites including the one of Funda. Even housing offers with description and photographs from other sites are shown on It is not unlikely that we will see more court cases.

The appearance of competition on the Dutch market was a stimulus for the Funda management to fence for its position and get ahead of the competition. However, the management did not get support from its board of directors and were sent home.

Blog Posting Number: 683


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