Globrix is a property search engine that was launched earlier this year, backed by News International.

I looked at the site a few weeks ago, and was impressed by its simple, stripped-down user interface, as well as the number of listings.

Here, we talk to Globrix CEO Daniel Lee about the online property market and where he sees the site heading…

How long has Globrix been going?

We launched the site in January this year, but we had been working on the site for two years before this launch.

We had an intensive development programme for the site. The aggregation of property listings was a difficult task. Other sites have tried and failed to achieve this.

We have to be able to go into a database and identify property listings and the information and features associated with them.

We could have launched earlier and developed features as we went along, but we wanted to launch with the site fully completed, and with a business model and investment in place, so we waited until January this year.

Where do you get your property listings from?

We index listings from estate agents’ websites, as well as using feeds provided by agents. This avoids having duplicate listings, which would be a risk if we scraped listings from the property portals.

In some of your advertising, you claim to cover the whole of the UK. How comprehensive is the site?

Nobody really knows how many estate agents are in the UK, and some may not put their properties online, but we do cover every property listed on an agent’s website. We have around 960,000 properties on the site.

How much traffic are you referring to estate agents?

We send out around 2-3m clicks through to agents’ websites, and are the second biggest traffic provider after Google.

How does your site differ from property portals?

Estate agents have to pay to get properties listed on these sites, so they are less comprehensive than Globrix. We also find that, even though the portals want people to go through them to enquire about properties, most prefer to go directly to estate agents’ websites to find out more.

We also offer more options; for instance, people can search by street for properties on Globrix, which is something the portals don’t offer.

Do estate agents pay to be listed on Globrix?

The estate agents don’t have to pay a fee to get on the site, but we do charge for enhanced listings, advertising on the site, as well as providing them with statistics we have gathered. We have a lot of useful data on property prices, market trends and search habits.

How do your ads work?

We serve banner ads based on the keywords typed in by users, and we also limit the number of ads allowed in one area. For instance, only two estate agents would be allowed to advertise on searches for properties the Fulham area, which makes the ads more relevant for users and more attractive for advertisers.

How much funding did you receive from News International?

We can’t reveal how much the investment was worth. (The FT described the deal as a multi-million pound investment).

How many users do you have?

We are currently attracting 500,000 unique visits per month, which is much less than more established property sites, but we are pleased with our growth in a period of eight months. We are currently growing at around 20% per month and aim to be in the top tier of property websites soon.

How are you building traffic to the site?

We have been using paid search to buy a lot of traffic to the site, but we are now working more on our organic SEO strategy, and also hope to grow through attracting repeat visitors impressed with the usefulness of the site.

What other features are planned for the site?

We will be adding more statistics to property listings and searches, such as information on other properties sold in the same area, showing how long houses have been on the market, and which areas are doing well in terms of prices and sales.

Will you be adding other related local information, such as restaurants, local services etc?

Users can already search by proximity of local schools and train and tube stations on the site, but we don’t see the value of adding information about restaurants and other services. We found that less than 1% of searchers use this information – the most important factors, price, location etc are already dealt with by the site.

We have been gaining traction because the site is so easy to use, so we are wary of damaging the user experience by adding too many features and making the site over complicated.

Do you think that, in the current economic climate, estate agents will begin to move away from paid listings sites like RightMove?

I think what will happen is that some estate agents which have previously listed their properties on three or four different aggregation sites will not be able to afford to do this now, so a decision will have to be made about which portal to list on.

While many estate agents will probably still list with RightMove due to the size of its audience, there may be more of an impact on second tier property portals as they look to tighten budgets.

Much will depend on what happens with the economy and how this affects the housing market. We think that there is room for a free listings site, and are encouraged by the success that Trulia has achieved in the US with this business model.

Do you have a mobile version of Globrix?

We have a beta version available, but we still have some work to do to make it as usable as the web version. 

Related articles:
Rightmove revamps site as competition increases
Interview: Trulia co-founder Pete Flint
Are estate agents doomed?