'Wikipedia of real estate' taking shape

Inman News

As listing sites ramp up efforts to augment their statistical data with local color, a real estate developer may soon launch a new website devoted solely to delivering qualitative, community information to homeowners, buyers and sellers.

WikiRealty aims to crowdsource information from professionals in all facets of the real estate industry in order to bring the sort of insider information to consumers that they traditionally can only glean from face-to-face interactions with locals, says founder Sanjay Kuttemperoor, a Naples, Fla.-based real estate developer and attorney. 

"Getting access to granular location-based information is almost impossible," Kuttemperoor said. "I want [WikiRealty] to be the repository for that kind of information."

A promotional video for WikiRealty.

Some listing sites already offer platforms designed to provide consumers with on-the-ground community data. Trulia, for example, hosts a forum where professionals and consumers can post questions and comments, and sound off on neighborhood issues.

Such sites appear to be increasing their focus on furnishing consumers with local color. Trulia's new 'Real Estate Lab' aims to deliver "the inside scoop on the psychology and strategy" of real estate buyers, sellers and professionals in different markets. And RealtyTrac just began partnering with brokerages to obtain local information based on anecdotal feedback.

But WikiRealty's sole purpose will be to collect, organize and display "granular location-based information," according to Kuttemperoor. "This is a different take," he said about the site.

If the "Wikipedia of real estate" takes shape, consumers could avoid encountering surprises late in the home-buying process, he said.

A real estate attorney and developer in Naples, Fla., Kuttemperoor observed one such contingency in his local market, when an architectural control committee began to enforce construction-approval rights that it previously had not enforced, he said. 

If WikiRealty was around, attorneys familiar with the matter could have brought the committee's activity to the attention of people thinking about building homes in the community by posting to the site, Kuttemperoor said. That would help them avoid the possibility of having a lien placed on their home after building it without the committee's approval, he said.

The site could also offer a canvas for contractors to showcase their work, similar to home-remodeling site Houzz. An interior designer who just finished a job in a particular community, for example, could post a description and photos about the job, he said. The body of such a post would be limited to 250 characters, but the author would be able to add additional information on a separate page, Kuttemperoor said. 

The site even aims to capture the idiosyncrasies of individual properties. Kuttemperoor said. WikiRealty has partnered with a listing syndicator to help achieve this end, Kuttemperoor said. He would not name the syndicator, saying he doesn't have permission to disclose its identity. 

As with any crowdsourced website, WikiRealty's success depends on attracting an engaged audience that continually contributes content. Kuttemperoor said he thinks that industry professionals like agents, mortgage brokers and real estate attorneys will volunteer information to the site for exposure to possible clients, who theoretically will visit WikiRealty for the inside scoop on communities.

"The lawyer that posts information is doing that not only because he's well-intentioned but probably also because it brings him clients in the future," Kuttemperoor said.

Kuttemperoor said he plans to launch a beta version of WikiRealty in 30 to 45 days that will serve his local market in Naples, Fla. He said he has been developing the site for two years, and has spent $200,000 out of pocket on it. Other investors have contributed $100,000 more, he said. He added that he is seeking additional capital.

Kuttemperoor declined to discuss details of the site's business model, but mentioned display advertising as one possible revenue source.    

Contact Teke Wiggin:
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