New Real Estate Wiki site wants to wikify real estate

By Catherine Contiguglia | April 03, 2008 03:36PM

A new wiki Website aims to be the Wikipedia of residential real estate, and hopes that brokers that use it won’t be too self-promotional.

So far, 157 New York agent profiles are listed on the Real Estate Wiki site, www.realestatewiki.com. The nonprofit launched in January and features thousands of entries, ranging from broker listings to frequently asked questions and definitions of real estate terms. The site’s founders patrol it and remove material they find to be blatantly promotional. 

The site, founded by about 20 real estate professionals, is divided into two categories, one for consumers and for the pros. It functions like Wikipedia, where anyone can post and edit entries.

However, because it is still at an early stage, Real Estate Wiki is not set up to navigate by region. And most of the posts were created by the site’s founders or taken from collaborating real estate databases, instead of coming from traditional user-generated “wiki” posts.

“We are only barely scratching the surface of information,” said Stefan Swanepoel, an Orange County, Calif.-based co-founder who has authored several real estate books and publishes the annual Swanepoel Trends Report.
Swanepoel said several real estate databases agreed to transfer thousands of industry member profiles. Notices were then sent out to those professionals to invite them to edit their profiles. 

One New York industry leader whose profile is listed, Halstead President Diane Ramirez, said she hadn’t heard about the Website yet and didn’t know her profile was posted. But she said that with careful monitoring, it could become a useful tool for the industry.

“We think information is key,” said Ramirez, who added that the Website would be helpful if it is has “none of the gossip or self promotional press releases, buttons, bells and what not. Consumers do like clean content, so if they hold true to what their mission is, I will definitely keep an eye on it.”

To remove promotional items and inaccurate information, Swanepoel said the site employs several real estate professionals who track changes made to the site and determine whether they are accurate and appropriate. The site’s staffers receive a small monthly stipend.

Swanepoel would not reveal the names of any of those involved in founding or running the site in order to keep the site “neutral and objective.” 

Swanepoel said the site would receive no revenue, and that it exists only as a collaborative real estate information source.

“This is a service lacking in the industry, and this is such a large necessity,” he said. “We didn’t see anybody doing it, so we just decided to jump in and start.” 


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