Property agents go on-line in Tallinn

  • 2000-12-14
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Leading Estonian property dealers launched Internet portal CiTY24 on Dec.7.

The portal unites Estonian top real estate companies which hold about one half of the Tallinn real estate market. Ober-Haus, Pro Kapital, Rime Kinnisvara and Arco Vara - those are just four out of 21 companies presented in the new portal's database.

As Urmas Laur, president of Kinnisvaraportaal Ltd., the company running the portal said, 70 percent of Estonia's real estate market is located in Tallinn and Harjumaa County.

"There are constantly about 3,000 realty-related offers in Tallinn, and our partners are involved in half of them," said Laur. He said it took a little less than one million kroons ($57,000) to get the portal going; Uhispank financed the project.

The Tallinn real estate market, according to leading realtors, is now facing continual growth in demand. The prices of both office and residental real estate located in the city center and the Old Town are rising weekly.

Laur said it is just a coincidence that the new portal appeared at such a moment. "The fact that the number of Internet users in Estonia has been steadily growing was the main reason for opening the portal," said Laur. He added that the Internet allows the selling of real estate more effectively thanks to its multimedia format.

At the beginning of December 2000, there were four online real estate databases in Estonia and dozens of realtors' Web-sites.

Laur said his main competitors are Kinnisvara Web (Real estate Web) and Kinnisvarakeskus (Real estate center) operating at and respectively. A significant part of the 21 partners of CiTY24 are also presented in the other two portals.

Arco Vara real estate company director Ivar Silmar said there is no point advertising a company on every corner. Arco Vara placed a copy of it's database to CiTY24 in addition to their own web site. CiTY24 looks different and fresh due to quite an innovative real estate portal solution. The web site includes insurance and loan sections, and a variety of advice on real estate deals. One of the most useful sections of CiTY24 is the news and analysis section combining media coverage on real estate issues and stories from experts.

Visitors can enjoy virtual tours available for some of the offers. The tours can save client's time as he or she can have a look at the house or flat without leaving their favorite armchair. Although virtual tours accompany only some database objects now, Laur said he hopes to have a tour with every entry in the near future.

The portal's clients can use the "Knocker" service - an e-mail or SMS is sent to the registered user a moment after the desired offer matching criteria appears on the database.

CiTY24 collected 1,000 offers on its database within three weeks, and Laur thinks it's a good start. Offers older than two weeks are removed to keep the information up-to-date. Some offers are exclusive (i.e. not presented at any other portals).

Kinnisvara Web has a total of 3,622 offers, including 1,455 apartment sale ads as of Dec. 8.

Kinnisvarakeskus, which opened March 2000, includes about 1,400 offers. "We mostly focused on one goal - how to put the ads to work," said Swen Uusjarv, board member of Kinnisvarakeskus. He said his experience shows that the ads which have a good picture of the property work better. Photos are required when placing an ad into the Kinnisvarakeskus portal while Kinnisvara Web has no photos at all, and for the ads in CiTY24 photos are optional.

Nevertheless, CiTY24 is a competitor one must take into account, admitted Uusjarv.

Laur said it is possible and evident that will start affiliate programs with other similar portals.

Hindrek Leppsalu, executive director of Ober-Haus and board member of the Realty Brokers' Association, said Ober-Haus preferred to use other information channels before, but CiTY24 is useful either for consumers, brokers and companies. "That is why we decided to join the project from it's first day," said Leppsalu.

According to Kinnisvarakeskus which unites 26 realtor firms from Harjumaa County alone, the number of real estate deals verified by notary at the end of 1999 totaled 10,000.