IOLProperty to Launch Revolutionary "Single Search"

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Imagine if you could search South Africa's largest database of online listings, classified adverts and property print publications all in one go with a few clicks of the mouse - that's what the recently-launched IOLProperty.co.za will be offering consumers when it launches its new single-search facility early next month.

We needed something more and now we have found a way to automatically search print publications for property listings, translate these into real estate listings, and integrate them into our online search.

Imagine if you could search South Africa's largest database of online listings, classified adverts and property print publications all in one go with a few clicks of the mouse - that's what the recently-launched IOLProperty.co.za will be offering consumers when it launches its new single-search facility early next month.

This new facility which IOLProperty believes to be a SA, if not a world first, will at one stroke turn the South African property super-site into a jumbo catalogue containing the majority of print and web property listings in SA - a giant one-stop online inventory for those searching for a new home to buy or to rent.

IOLProperty's technology lead, Roelf Jansen, who joined the company from an artificial intelligence background specializing in image recognition, says: "We launched the website earlier this year with a program that allowed users to browse through our print property listings page by page, but this was a slow process and not really effective."

"We needed something more and now we have found a way to automatically search print publications for property listings, translate these into real estate listings, and integrate them into our online search."

IOLProperty already has the biggest selection of property listings in SA (270 000), thanks to a program that automatically scans online listings from about 10 000 agents and puts them into a single, searchable index. "But there is another world of property listings out there from agents that don't advertise online but only in print," says Jansen.

"With our new single-search facility, consumers will now also be able to search these properties online. Added to the property classified listings from Independent newspapers, will be listings from property supplements such as the Saturday Star and Sunday Tribune Property Guides, as well as those from property magazines including the Homeguide, Homefinder and the Property Trader family.

"The beauty of print listings is that they are relatively more expensive to place than online listings, so the estate agent chooses only the best stock to showcase. The downside is that searching for property in print is more time-consuming for the buyer. However with our new single search facility, that problem is eliminated and we truly are getting the best of both worlds."

The new technology accepts advertisements or page images in multiple formats, because each publication and agency displays their properties with different fonts, colours, symbols and descriptions. "It then standardises the information and integrates it with web listings and classified to create a unified inventory that users can easily search online."

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Grant Leigh
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