Takes On The US Market Takes On The US Market

Real estate search engine launches US site following success in the UK and South Africa

London: (‘DotHomes’), the leading UK and South African real estate search engine, today announced its expansion into the US market. The US launch, less than 18 months after the company’s initial prototype launch in June 2006, is a significant step in the development of the business and adds to its existing operations in the UK and South Africa.

The US launch also marks the deployment of a new technical framework, which is engineered to facilitate the rapid international expansion of DotHomes, while at the same time improving the relevance of search results for house hunters.

Described as “the Google of property”*, DotHomes uses a highly innovative search technology to offer a real alternative to the traditional real estate search portals such as in the US. DotHomes provides a free and effortless marketing platform for estate agents and brokers and, in addition, provides an easier and more transparent search tool for house hunters.

DotHomes currently searches over a million real estate listings on estate agent and broker websites nationally across the US and the company plans to rapidly expand its coverage over the coming months. DotHomes is already the market leader in South Africa, with more than 141,000 estate agent listings, and in the UK, currently indexes more than 450,000 listings directly from the websites of more than 5,000 estate agent offices across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making it second only to the quoted portal, Rightmove.

DotHomes uses a Google-type approach to real estate search, using robots to search widely for estate agent/broker listings and then extracting and sorting (or parsing) key information and producing easy-to-read summaries that link directly through to the original listings on the agent/broker websites. DotHomes’ proprietary machine-learning technology, which was developed by its parent company BytePlay, automatically works out how to extract the most relevant information from a real estate listing, all the way down to square footage and number of bathrooms, even when this is provided in natural-language descriptions, thereby ensuring that users are directed only to the most relevant listings. This technology has proved crucial to the accuracy of DotHomes’ search capabilities and has been an important driver of its expansion into the US market.

Artemi Krymski, co-founder of BytePlay, said: “We view the US as one of the biggest market opportunities for DotHomes so this is a key milestone for us. The launch is also important as it marks the first international expansion using our new custom full-text search mechanism. It is a rare occurrence for a UK Web company to successfully tackle the US market, even more so for a start-up, however we believe that the technology we now have in place is a key differentiator and one which gives us a strong competitive edge, both in the US and beyond.”

Fellow co-founder, Douglas de Jager, added: “DotHomes’ new custom full-text search mechanism significantly improves query relevance for house hunters enabling them quickly to find precisely what they're looking for. For example, users can type into the single search box: 3-5 bedroom apartment on Fifth Avenue, New York, for at least $10m, with park views. The new full-text search, which greatly improves the flexibility of system and its ability to scale quickly, has been crucially important in the US launch and will become progressively more so as we expand the business going forward.” is funded by three of Europe's leading early-stage venture capital firms: The Accelerator Group, backers of GlassesDirect and lastminute; Arts Alliance, backers of LOVEFiLM, lastminute and propertyfinder; and Samos Investments, which funded the online betting exchange Betfair.

*Esquire UK, September 2007