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Zoomf.com, a property search engine backed by UK tech start-up Arclight Media Technology , is planning to go live early next year.
Currently in beta, Zoomf is aiming to officially launch in Q1 2007, offering property listings in London before expanding its coverage to the rest of the UK and abroad.
The company is entering an increasingly competitive market, but product director Ivailo Jordanov believes Zoomf can improve on what's available.
He said the venture arose from an unhappy experience with existing property portals:
“We looked at a number of verticals, but the property market was the most interesting and lacked innovation. Many of the main players haven’t even implemented mapping. I was looking for properties last year and had to write scripts to search all the sites automatically.”
Zoomf will be competing with the likes of UK-based Nestoria and California-based Trulia, which we think remains one of the benchmarks in vertical search.
The site’s features currently include tables for comparing prices across different property types and areas of London, while others in the pipeline include calendars for viewings, favourites and more advanced searches on properties’ attributes, such as whether they have a river view or a gym.
Although it currently uses a Google Maps interface, Jordanov said it is considering additional suppliers for its mapping needs:
“We are in the process of looking at other sources, such as Yahoo! Maps and Map24 . Yahoo! is not quite ready for Europe yet - they don’t have their own European maps - but in the next few months they are promising that they will be live.”
As for its business model, the site plans to raise revenues through advertising (no surprise there), and is planning to trial a platform next year that will aim to raise revenues from estate agents in return for sales leads.
We'll be following Zoomf's progress as it rolls out in the UK.