Google Reveals Top Real Estate Sites | Property Portal Watch

Google Reveals Top Real Estate Sites

June 1, 2010 by Alice Allan 

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Google has just released a list of the 1,000 most visited websites on the Internet, and the highest-ranked website in the real estate category is China’s soufun.com.

Overall, soufun.com came in at number 141 on the list, which is based on unique visitor numbers as measured by Google Ad Planner. soufun.com had 18,000,000 unique visitors, a reach of 1.2 percent, and 250,000,000 page views for the month of April 2010.

Google has classified a number of other websites in the “real estate” and “rentals and referrals” categories, including China’s koubei.com, which came in at 398th place, and the Ukraine’s yandex.ua in 698th place. However, the two websites focused specifically on real estate to make the list are both from the US.

realtor.com came in at 786th place, with 5,100,000 unique visitors, 0.3 percent reach, and 340,000,000 page views. In 934th place was zillow.com with 4,200,000 unique visitors, 0.3 percent reach, and 310,000,000 page views.

The number one website on the list was facebook.com with 540,000,000 unique visitors and a reach of 35.2 percent. Google says the list excludes adult sites, ad networks, domains that don’t have publicly visible content or don’t load properly, and certain Google sites.

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How to Save the News [Google taking on the News Industry] the Atlantic

How to Save the News

Plummeting newspaper circulation, disappearing classified ads, “unbundling” of content—the list of what’s killing journalism is long. But high on that list, many would say, is Google, the biggest unbundler of them all. Now, having helped break the news business, the company wants to fix it—for commercial as well as civic reasons: if news organizations stop producing great journalism, says one Google executive, the search engine will no longer have interesting content to link to. So some of the smartest minds at the company are thinking about this, and working with publishers, and peering ahead to see what the future of journalism looks like. Guess what? It’s bright.

Photos by Robyn Twomey/Redux (Above: Hal Varian, Google's chief economist)

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/06/how-to-save-the-news/8095#

Renters to Pay Fees Again

By DAWN WOTAPKA

At least three major Manhattan landlords have decided to stop paying broker's fees on some rental properties, signaling that many tenants need to brace themselves for extra expenses when apartment shopping.

This is a shift from last year, when landlords—desperate to fill empty units—would cover the broker's fee, typically a month's rent.

But with demand for rentals rising and vacancy rates falling, some of the city's biggest landlords have notified brokers that they will no longer pick up the fee. That, of course, means renters must pay up.

"The pendulum is swinging back to a landlord's market," said Gary Malin, president of brokerage Citi Habitats. "Owners are going to do what's in their power to stop overpaying, in their eyes, to attract clientele."

In a recent email, Ogden CAP Properties LLC said it won't pay fees at several properties, including Normandie Court on East 95th Street and One Lincoln Plaza on West 64th Street. It declined to comment.

Pan Am Equities Inc., another large apartment owner, intends to stop paying the fee on June 1, according to brokers. Pan Am declined to comment.

The rental unit of Related Cos., which has about 5,000 units across Manhattan, will stop paying the fee May 31. "There has been a serious uptick in the market. We have seen across-the-board a strengthening in the marketplace," said Daria Salusbury, a Related senior vice president. Related's vacancy of less than 1%—down from about 3.5% a year ago—"is better than projected," she said.

Vacancies are low across Manhattan, which is in its peak leasing season.

April's rate came in at 1.23%, the lowest since June 2008, according to Citi Habitats. That was down from 1.38% in March and 2.28% a year ago. The average rent for studios and one-bedrooms – which make up most local rental stock – rose 2% from March to $1,799 and $2,390, respectively. Studio rents haven't been this high since December, 2008. Two bedrooms saw a slight rise to $3,299, from $3,289. Related is modestly increasing monthly rent in Chelsea and downtown, Ms. Salusbury said.

AvalonBay Communities Inc. in most cases is no longer paying the fee for leases in its seven New York City communities—including four in Manhattan.

The company, with 6,900 apartments in New York and New Jersey, says the Big Apple's improvement is being felt in suburban markets: Many of its communities in New Jersey, Westchester County and Long Island, typically not big broker fee markets, have seen rental increases in recent months.

"Regionwide, market conditions have improved over a year ago," said John Christie, senior director of investor relations and research.

To be sure, some local landlords continue to cough up the fee. The LeFrak Organization, which owns about 2,500 Manhattan rentals, pays the broker fee in buildings with several units available or with larger apartments, which rent for more and can take longer to fill.

Still, LeFrak's occupancy is about 99% currently, meaning it's unlikely to have to pay out much in broker fees.

"The fee is something that comes and goes based on supply and demand," said Jamie LeFrak, a company principal. "If it makes reasonable sense to pay brokerage commissions, we'd always prefer not to cut out the broker. Keep the brokers happy because that's who brings you customers."

Not surprisingly there's some consumer resistance to renters having to pay the broker fee. Some prospective tenants won't look at properties if they are responsible for the fee.

Write to Dawn Wotapka at dawn.wotapka@dowjones.com

The Seventh Mass Media

The mobile phone as the seventh mass media, adding to the experience, upending and usurping but never destroying the medium that preceded it.

The mobile device can access the internet in most ways a computer can, yet adds interactive functionality in myriad ways. I can take pictures, record movies and even write this very post on my blackberry, and post them all to a network of websites and blogs as I take a train from New York City to Philadelphia.

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