Two years ago, I met software developer Tom Inglis to talk about Reorb, an online social network he had founded in August 2009 for professionals in the commercial real estate business. In the face of strong competition from magazine-backed rivals such as Property Week‘s Property Network (post) – which now has 5,603 members – and Estates Gazette‘s community – 473 members – as well as generic business network platforms such as LinkedIn, Reorb struggled to prove commercially viable. It was put up for sale by its board last summer, but I don’t think any buyers came forward, the site closed, and the Reorb.com domain name now just takes visitors to Tom’s company website, Feusd. (Meanwhile, I also encountered another would-be property community, Enska (@Enska), but its website was down when I checked it today.)
Now there’s another venture targeting a similar market: NegNet, “the social and professional network for Estate Agents“. This was launched quietly only last week – I learned about it after being followed by @NegNetUK on Twitter – with a website platform based on WordPress and its Buddypress plug-in. The site aims to be: “THE online hub for Estate Agents where you can network, discuss industry news, socialise, search for and advertise jobs.”
The site is light on details about its founders (I always like to know who’s behind anything I join), but some quick online research revealed the domain is registered to Brentford-based Joe Shrimpton, a former Barnard Marcus branch manager who now runs Red Residential, a lettings agency focused on studio flats in west and central London.
Despite the apparent willingness of estate agents and other professionals to join online networks, Reorb’s experience shows it is difficult to translate this into online success. Time will tell if NegNet can do better.