Who leads the way in Interactive Property Mapping?

In order to help with the launch of our new interactive property mapping product, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at what the mapping looks like for a number of the top Estate agency chains and property portals.

Our findings are hardly scientifically robust, and we thought hard about whether to publish these, but given we had done the hard work, we thought it might be interesting.  What we did was take a look at every website (in early March 2008) and look at their maps to find out:

  • Do they use mapping at all ?
  • Do they have a map that has multiple properties on it (as opposed to a map for just a single property at a time) ?
  • What underlying mapping technology each website used (API) ?
and for property portals, we also:
  • Examined what data was included in the mapping
  • Rated the quality of the mapping (from our point of view)

The Background

I guess we ought to make a few things clear before diving into the analysis.  Firstly, we conducted this research over a week in early March - it is therefore already potentially out of date and any conclusions should be considered with that in mind.  Secondly, any rating or judgement is purely subjective on our point and therefore open to both scrutiny and challenge - we are definitely not aiming to upset our potential customers!

The top 50 Estate Agents were based on a list published by Estate Agency News and the top 20 portals based on a list published by Estate Agency Times in January and February 2008 respective.  We acknowledge the copyright and have offered links in this article to the original articles.

The Analysis

For the full analysis , including tables, ratings etc. please refer to a detailed pdf containing all the analysis.  The commentary below is a summary                   analysis and findings.

Top 20 Portals

Please see the table in the attached pdf for details on each portal.
Observations
We would draw the following observations based on our research:

  1. Google Maps leads the way Google Maps currently leads the way with nearly 50% of the portals (10 out of the 22) in this list.
  2. The UK is seemingly behind in the move to Virtual Earth Despite the significant move in the US Real Estate companies across to Microsoft's Virtual Earth product (mainly due to the Bird's Eye imagery), the UK portals are lagging behind with only two of the 22 in this list.
  3. Mapping still has a long way to go Despite technology being core to portal propositions, only 8 of the 22 have a multiple property map.  This would indicate that there is plenty of room for portals to maximise the value they can extract through interactive mapping and improve the experience of their users.

Top 50 Estate Agents

Please see the table in the attached pdf for our view on interactive mapping in the top 50 Estate Agents.
Observations
We would draw the following observations based on our research:
  1. Google Maps leads the way In a similar manner to the top 20 portals, Google Maps currently leads the way with nearly 50% of the top Estate Agency sites (24 out of the 50).
  2. Multimap still has a strong hold Unlike the portal list, the UK based Multimap retains a strong presence in the UK Estate Agency market.  Since the buy out by Microsoft, Multimap's API has been further strengthened by the inclusion of Bird's Eye imagery from the Virtual Earth API.
  3. Mapping still has a long way to go In a similar trend to the top portals, only 12 of the 50 have a multiple property map (less than 25%!).  This would indicate that there is plenty of room for Agents to maximise the value they can extract through the use of interactive mapping in their websites.  It certainly might be an area where Agents can positively differentiate their web offerings in the minds of their customers.

Summary

We hope that the time we have taken to look at the interactive mapping for leading websites in the UK residential property market will be of interest.  Should you have any questions about how we conducted the analysis, or would like to chat through any of our conclusions, please contact Neil Osmond at Earthware (neil@earthware.co.uk or 0845 642 9880).