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Approaches to Narrowing Search Results

I wrote an article recently about helping buyers find the perfect home more efficiently. Though I still don’t think finding “the absolute perfect home” is something buyers are clamoring for in an online search experience, I do believe there to be immense value in helping buyers discover the properties relevant to them (without wading through crap that’s not).

There’s a few approaches to narrowing a search:

  • Standard filters — almost every real estate search website has basic search parameters such as price, beds, baths, square footage, and home type.
  • Advanced filters – full text keyword search, Max HOA, price reduced, waterfront, days on market, WalkScore, etc
  • AI — Do you think we’re going to get to a point where AI can pick the best house for a specific buyer? If I’m spending 500k+, I’m not sure I’d be okay with “this algorithm thought house X is the house that fits me best based on y and z assumptions” (I wouldn’t trust it). I know many brokerages and vendors are working with this technology. I’d love to hear about a few specific approaches (and learnings) in the comments.
  • Lifestyle based curation — Modern homes, lake front, pent houses, mountain cabins, golf course properties, historic, etc
  • Manual curation — this is what AgentFolio/Buyfolio was doing, and most agents/brokers do manually today with a combination of the MLS, email, and text. I still believe there is a future where agents are the center of the search experience.

How are you helping your buyers avoid the crap they don’t care about?

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • We give our buyers the ability to search pretty much every field in the MLS. We found one yesterday we do not offer where the buyer want to search for homes whose street address start with 44, 45, or 46. I was able to figure out a work around that worked for him.

    Right now most can only search the fields we get, so if modern home is not a field, we can’t search for it.

    Manual curation of emails is difficult if you have a big database. We sent out 240,000+ emails about new listings in the last 30 days. I don’t think any team can handle that manually.

    • “We give our buyers the ability to search pretty much every field in the MLS.”

      How many people use those obscure fields to search?

      • I have not categorized every search to determine this. But no matter how many fields I offer, someone comes up with a new request which tells me some are interested in more detailed searches.

        I offer both, it is easy to offer an easy search, and then if someone wants to get more specific they can.

        I guess my question would be why not offer both as there is definitely a demand from some of more powerful search options.

        I also wonder if there is some benefit to offering it even if it is not used. Buyers might think this is a really good site, look at all the search options, yet end up using the basic search. As long as they come back to the site that is all that matters.

        Kind of like Excel, most probably use just 2% of the features available, but we are still impressed with everything that can be done and they have not purposely removed formulas because very few will use them.

        • I should also add that many search fields were added as a result of trying to get better comparables.

          Most websites don’t offer comparables, so there is no need to have a lot of search options as they never have to run comparables.

          Once you have to run comparables, a more powerful search is required to filter it down to the best matches.

  • Sep Niakan

    I think that manual curation is the best bet, but I am hopeful that AI can play a big part in either auto-curation as a lesser-but-still-beneficial alternative or at least in the AI helping us agents be more efficient in our manual curation.

  • Sep Niakan

    Also, I am not convinced that giving people more search options is a big winner. There may be a certain subset of people that wants to get very granular, but I think large majority of people filter the basics (beds/bath, location, price) and then browse around until their eye catches something they are interested in. Am I wrong? Also, I think there might be two discussions here: What options and pitch creates the most online conversions (in other words, getting prospects to give you their name and contact info), and the other is what options gets a user to stay with your site (and trust and stay with you the broker) until the very end.

    • “I am not convinced that giving people more search options is a big winner.”

      You would be correct. Every data point I’ve ever seen says the vast majority of people never used advanced search filters.

  • Ross,
    This comment is off topic..

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