Editor’s Note:
By way of his inaugural post, I’d like to introduce our newest contributor Charlie Davis.  Charlie is a co-founder of iGeolise.com, a company that delivers software to the property industry and beyond in the U.K. One of their products, TravelTime, allows properties to be searched by travel time rather than miles radius.

1Many UK real estate listing sites have reported huge leaps in conversions after changing how their visitors can perform property searches. Since listing properties by travel time rather than miles radius they’ve noticed that every search returns more relevant results than the miles radius counterpart. This increase in relevancy is directly related to conversions, with many sites reporting that minutes converts 3 times more customers than miles.

2This way of searching lets property seekers describe their ideal area to the property search – their current workplace, a maximum commute time and mode of transport. Other factors that property seekers use to choose housing may also factor in the maximum cost and CO2 levels when commuting.

It converts more…but why?

The marketing buzzword ‘personalisation’ has finally found its place in property by offering a search individually tailored to each visitor’s lifestyle. Time also removes erroneous and irrelevant results that would be considered passable using miles radius. Buyers can’t travel as the crow flies, instead they’re at the mercy of road and public transport networks. Nor can they walk across rivers without a bridge or scale mountains at the drop of a hat. Distance searching ignores that a mile could be a breeze in one direction and an expedition in the other.

The other issue is that distance searching ignores that some roads will be more congested than others, particularly at peak times. Using minutes brings a human element to searching because it accounts for how the average Joe reaches their destination. It makes sure that property searching is in line with how real people select properties. After all, when’s the last time someone say ‘I’d like to move somewhere within 3 miles radius of my office’?

It also prevents high bounce rates. This is because property seekers naturally want to research a property before viewing it, including calculating their potential routes to and from work. Using a time based search on site means there’s no need for users to navigate away to a search engine to get answers. Doing this leg work for them keeps them on the right page and gives them another reason to convert.

Best practice

Propertywide.co.uk recognised that families need to take into account multiple points like schools and workplaces to make a decision. The result meant that they overlapped two commute times from different points and pointed out which were most relevant for both.

Zoopla.co.uk ranks and sorts properties using their original list look but included minutes to help customers make decisions based on minutes without having to click on each property.

Lawrence Rand included this option when searching but gave property buyers the option of both to understand which search works best for each user.

Country Properties gave their clients further options by allowing house hunters to display their results in a visual map form or by list.