How This Real Estate Maverick is Pioneering House Hunting Online

By Jeanine Ibrahim

Shoppers scour the Internet looking to buy just about everything nowadays, including homes. With many already-established real estate websites in place, one new portal hopes its clever virtual address will give it a boost to stand out from the rest.

This new website,, is similar to its counterparts in that it’s a place for homebuyers to view properties for sale, and to find a listing’s broker and asking price. But unlike others, such as Zillow and Trulia, doesn’t live online with a “dot-com” address; instead, its domain ending is simply “dot-properties” [.properties].

Having such a direct, clear name makes the site’s purpose known upfront, giving it an instant and cost-effective marketing boost, according to its founder Bill Roberts.

“By adopting USA.Properties,we’re automatically branded," he says.

Roberts, a real estate broker and appraiser based in Massachusetts, says if it weren’t for the not-com option to create a website on a domain such as 'dot-properties,' he wouldn’t be in the virtual real estate market. Additional new domain options such as 'dot-house' (.house), 'dot-rentals' (.rentals) and 'dot-realtor' (.realtor) provide fresh online opportunities for those branding a new (or existing) real estate business. 

“The advent of these new web address options is what makes it [possible] for me to create this start-up,” Roberts says. “I’ve got a very, very brand-able web address in USA.Properties, and I didn’t have to pay a million dollars for it.”

He’s capitalizing on the reality that the large majority of homebuyers in the U.S. -- 88 percent of them last year according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) -- use the Internet as an online tool to hunt for a property.

This same NAR report found that the largest group of homebuyers were millennials, or people born after 1980. While the majority of this demographic (90 percent) used an agent to complete their property purchase, more than half of them found the home they ultimately bought ... on the Internet. 

With so many people searching online for a home, Roberts sees potential for growth. He says will go beyond offering property listing data to also include community information in a particular area, including: a directory of businesses; a local events’ feed; and a calendar with current listings for movies, concerts, and sports. 

Roberts says he launched the site with properties for sale in and around his home state of Massachusetts after securing a direct syndication deal with the area’s Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, or MLS. Widely known in real estate, the MLS is a database that helps both buyers and sellers obtain and exchange information on properties for sale in a given area.

As part of his business model, Robert’s plans to generate ad revenue from several sources, including brokers and local businesses. He hopes to expand to all 50 states within three years.

To learn more about this business visit