Here we outline the state of the German real estate market and the way property portals operate within it, with commentary from Ed Freyfogle, who launched the Nestoria real estate search engine in Germany three years ago.
State of the Market
Freyfogle describes the German population as relatively immobile when it comes to property, however he says this is slowly changing. “There is no concept of a ‘property ladder’ and buyers generally purchase planning to live somewhere for life,” he explains, adding that many wealthy Germans purchase abroad, with Spain a favourite destination.
“The vast majority of German estate agents are small local players with very few recognisable nationwide or pan-regional brands,” Freyfogle says. “The exceptions to this rule are banks/building societies, many of whom also operate as estate agents.”
Online Market Structure
The clear leader among German property portals is immobilienscout24.de, which is part of the Scout 24 group of websites run by Deutsche Telekom. According to the World Bank, Germany had a population of just under 82 million people in 2009, when immobilienscout24.de reported a record of 4.4 million monthly unique visitors. By August 2010, immobilienscout24.de was reporting 5.19 million monthly unique visitors.
The following Nielsen figures for August 2010, provided by immobilienscout24.de, show just how fierce the battle for second place in the German market is. At this point, immowelt.de was ahead of Axel Springer’s immonet.de, and the total audience for the online real estate channel was 7,043,000 unique visitors.
1. immobilienscout24.de: 5,192,000 unique visitors
2. immowelt.de: 2,060,000
3. immonet.de: 1,695,000
4. immopool.de: 473,000
5. wg-gesucht.de: 379,000
6. immozentral.com: 378,000
7. Trovit Homes: 282,000
8. immobilo.de: 263,000
9. nestoria.de: 256,000
10. 1a-immobilienmarkt.de: 205,000
11. eBay real estate: 200,000
12. zwangsversteigerung.de: 186,000
13. Sparkassen-Immobilienportal: 169,000
14. wohnung-jetzt.de: 151,000
15. Focus Online Immobilien: 150,000
16. immobilien-katalog.net: 137,000
17. immobilien.de: 121,000
18. meinestadt.de Wohnungen: 117,000
19. Redmark Meineimmobile: 106,000
20. argetra.de: 97,000
“By and large the top three portals offer a very similar palette of tools and features for consumers and agents, often copying each other relatively quickly with new features,” explains Freyfogle. “immobilienscout24.de typically takes the lead in setting prices. All players accept listings directly from private sellers and present those listings alongside agent listings.”
“The most notable feature of the German market, and one that other portals from traditional newspaper backgrounds across Europe would do well to copy, is the well executed combination of print and online property advertising,” Freyfogle adds. “Major publishers like Axel Springer have created best-of-breed integration for the advertiser across platforms as a way of moving revenue from deteriorating print brands to the Internet.”
Freyfogle recommends Hannes Mehr’s blog, immobilienportale.com, as the best online source for further information on the industry.