Summary:

When recessions come, people stop buying houses — so much so that house-buying has fallen to its lowest level since 1974. And sure enough,…

When recessions come, people stop buying houses — so much so that house-buying has fallen to its lowest level since 1974. And sure enough, traffic to real estate sites is steadily declining: according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), UK property sites attracted 6.17 million unique users in December last year, an eight percent drop compared to December 2007, while at the same time UK web traffic in total grew 11 percent to 36.6 million.

A good time for a new business model? Estatecreate.com launched yesterday, a site allowing property owners to create their own web page to sell their house. The page is hosted and run through the site’s search engine — as well as other property classifieds sites — for £5.95 per month. And unlike most property sites, there’s no commission. The site gets top billing on Independent.co.uk’s property section, which is shortly to offer its own version. It’s the latest in a long list of third-party commercial deals for the Indie such as its music download link-up with 7 Digital.

But the country’s leading homes site Rightmove.co.uk saw its traffic drop 16 percent year-on-year to 1.91 million uniques. Vebra.com saw its traffic drop by almost half to 379,000 while homesonview.co.uk saw a 51 percent decrease to 150,000 uniques.

Robert adds: NMA broke the embargo on Estatecreate.com last night.

With its alternative methodology, Nielsen Online paints a more optimistic picture and estimates that, in January, the top ten property sites received 9.47 million unique users — Nielsen ascribes a healthy 2.71 million uniques users to Rightmove.co.uk and 2.23 to the Digital Property Group, but doesn’t give year-on-year comparisons.

By Patrick Smith

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