The Gray Hair Speaketh

Advice that is largely Unsolicited.. – a low cost, self help real estate sale tool

Geoff Yunker wrote to me on LinkedIn, to check out the new startup that he is associated with, namely

What is it about? offers a low cost online option, for selling a home. Via its few different packages, SwappinZips covers nearly all kinds of services that any home seller is expected to need. And the entire product is an online product, offered at a low fixed cost.

What more?

In addition to text that you can read, there are audio messages narrated using a site avataar that convey the key information needed by any user. The site enables a user to give details of her house once, and with that information, the house gets listed into many sites suitable for real estate deals, including In addition to the listing package of services, they also offer Marketing Package, Closing Package or an overall Bundled Package. Then there is one buy-as-you-need a la carte package on offer too. As demonstrated on the site, they have priced the services to look like a steal as compared to the fees charged by a typical realtor.

Other Observations:

This is a very typical and very workable model of business. Where in the traditional space, there are human service providers who are always going to be expensive, if the service is converted into an online self-help offering, it can be a tremendous value proposition. Similar service offerings have been seen in personal finance, insurance and other areas. In that respect, is in a good slot. The game clearly, in such models, is put all the learning and the intelligence in the online product, and then ensure that a lot of people use the service, offered at a low cost. While I am unable to try out and comment on the actual service offering, if this is what SwappinZips has achieved, then they are certainly on the right track.

Wisdom Nuggets:

1. At the outset, a simple and small step is to improve the SEO friendliness of the site. Page titles, URLs, metas can all be improved to make the pages more search friendls.

2. In services of such kinds, where human service providers are undoubtedly expensive and online versions should be adapted as a no-brainer decision, why do people still go and spend the money with the human service providers? It is a question of the credibility factor. So if that has to be addressed, various communications on the site need to focus on this factor and address it strongly. There is room for improving communication in this aspect.

3. The home page has too much text, with a variety of fonts and colors. This does not give it a professional look. Moreover too much congested text does not make for easy reading, in any case. The text can be lesser and be very clearly focused on the one strong message – that of being a low cost option! Instead of trying to get multiple messages out.

4. The header is very valuable real estate on the page. There is an empty space in the middle and images of houses on the right. I am not an advocate for filling up that space completely, by any chance. However with some empty space and rotating images of houses, the space is being under utilized. Maybe a smart banner with an image of a house, a person and a blurb with the tagline or something of that kind, may be better value of usage of that space.

5. The audio messages are good, and convey the desired communication well. However as I go back and forth over the pages, the audio repeats when I return to a page. That is quite an irritant. If there is a way to ensure that an audio auto-starts only once per session, it would be nicer.

6. A clear “About Us” page and link is always useful. Especially in sites where money is being asked for, to provide services, customers often want to know who is behind the site, and to whom the money is being paid. Such an ‘about us’ page is missing here.

Other than these few points, the site is well positioned in terms of the service offering, and given a good shot of promotion, it should be able to create an excellent niche for itself.

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March 1, 2009 Posted by | Real Estate, Startup | , , , | 1 Comment