Work by a Nanaimo technology company could change how real estate is bought and sold in Europe.
Nanaimo-based Real Estate Webmasters was hired to completely redesign the RE/Max Europe website, which was launched last Friday and is the flagship website for RE/Max Europe with a market network of 26,000 members across 40 countries.
According to an REW press release, European interest in North American real estate marketing methods is growing and the new website brings a host of online marketing innovations to the industry there.
“Before it was just basically a landing page where they brought people and now there’s a lot of new technical innovation in there,” said Morgan Carey, Real Estate Webmasters president and CEO. “For instance, it’s now multilingual and it wasn’t before. There’s a whole multilingual engine in there where they can actually develop content in all 40 languages that they support. There’s an integration into their dropbox … so they can share things like documents and contracts and training materials and stuff like that are confidential and private.”
The site also features a video showcase section, which allows members to tie in their personal YouTube, educational and promotional channels.
Carey said the redesign is part of the “tip of the spear” for REW to offer more services and products to the European real estate industry.
The cost of developing those services is being financed with assistance from the Government of Canada’s business scale-up and productivity program, for which REW qualified.
“I think we have $2.5 million in funding from the Government of Canada to develop our international applications,” he said. “[RE/Max Europe] is our first major customer overseas where we’re leveraging some of the technologies we’ve been building, like the multilingual technology. That’s a big win for us. They just hit 26,000 members and so while we built their main site – which is great, obviously, that’s the flagship – we now have access to all their brokers and agents and we can sell them websites, listing management and lead generation, as well.”
Redesigning RE/Max Europe’s website effectively transfers North American real estate marketing technology – more advanced than what has been available, according to REW – to Europe where the real estate business has been steeped in tradition and regulation.
“There’s a lot of rules about privacy, about lead capture, about storing people’s content, all that kind of stuff, that makes it just more expensive and more difficult to maneuver around…” Carey said. “Imagine your [real estate agent] being able to go to their office and pick up the keys to a home to be able to show it to someone – in Europe you can’t do that. They almost don’t want to show you the home and if you do want to see the home you have to contact the listing agent, specifically, who then needs to get permission from the listing person each time … There’s no lock boxes. They don’t publish the addresses of the properties in a lot of cases and so you can’t even look up the property online.”
Those kinds of hindrances put the brakes on how quickly property sales can be completed.
“There is far less volume per-capita in Europe, in terms of transacted properties, than you would find, say, in North American markets,” Carey said.
The website redesign is just the first phase of a long-term project, the next part of which will bring an online Multiple Listing Service to the European market. Carey describes the MLS development phase as a “big monster project” because it has to be designed to serve countries across the continent in 40 languages.
“So we’ve got about two more years of building the MLS system over in Europe, which is a separate project to this one, so the hope is – RE/Max is actually the largest real estate franchise in Europe by a significant margin – we’ll already have significant market share if just our first customer adopts the engine,” Carey said.