Place Of Mine Takes On Padmapper By Focusing On Collaborative House Hunting
Finding a new place to live sucks. A lot.
Add in the challenge of trying to find a place to live with someone else — say, an endlessly busy roommate — and it gets downgraded from "sucks" to "Screw it, didn't want to move anyway."
While PadMapper (which, to be clear, I really dig and have used to find my last two rentals) has had basic collaboration support for a while now, it's always seemed to be a bit... tacked-on. The feature is stuffed into the depths of a preferences screen where few ever wander, with little indication elsewhere in the app that it even exists. You can peruse your fellow hunter's notes, sync your seen/favorites lists, and... well, that's about it.
With Place Of Mine, collaboration is pushed up front and center. Beyond the aforementioned features found in Padmapper, Place Of Mine also lets users attach shared photos to their favorite listings (which is killer if you've got a friend scouting pads in your soon-to-be home city), collaboratively communicate with landlords (rather than having to CC each other in one big e-mail thread), filter listings based on each other's ratings for each location, and a bunch of other fancy tricks. Oh, and for a few extra style points: it all happens with AJAX-y real-time goodness, no manual refreshes required.
Also serving to make things more interesting: Place Of Mine has a bit more skin in the game here. It's built by the same team that made the apartment listing crawler Cazoodle, and is the first time they've really used the data in a consumer-facing way (beyond their basic search tool.) They'll make their money whenever users click into certain partner listings, with what they call "auxiliary services" (like storage, moving trucks, insurance) in the works.
I spoke to the company on their immediate plans for the product, and they mentioned two major impending milestones: a mobile app which they're hoping to have out by May, and the addition of Craigslist listings (an absolutely crucial factor in this space, and PadMapper's bread and butter) in the next 2-3 weeks.
Is Place Of Mine perfect? Nah. It has its share of bugs (it did just launch today, after all) — and as made clear by their plans mentioned above, it has plenty of room to grow. But there's tons of room for competition and disruption in this space. Just look at how PadMapper has exploded (at least amongst techies in the Bay Area) and realize: that was made by one guy.