John Cook’s Venture Blog pointed out today that Zillow got a new look and is now looking for beta users… Much to Zillow’s credit, they’ve created an aura of excitement despite the fact that no one knows what their product will look like, or when it will be available.
This got me thinking that it is clearly time for some updates on real estate search. The past two weeks, I’ve been too busy at work (WAY TOO BUSY) to write any posts, so I was glad that Anna took up some slack and wrote about Home Pages. However, I’ve had this nagging need to write a little more about the site, and I’ve finally found some time. Here are some of my notes from my test-drive of Home Pages:
- Neighborhood information: It is really great that they’ve integrated so many different layers into their map. Just like Home Values, in the very near future all home search sites will need to include information like schools, parks, etc.
- Sold Home Info: It’s great to have this information integrated into the search site
- Personalized UI/mapping: I really like that they’ve developed their own user interface instead of relying on one of the big three providers (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft). That should give them lots of flexibility into the future, although it also means they’ve taken on a whole host of update issues instead of passing the buck on that one. I’ll be interested to hear from someone at Home Values about their experience with this hosting their own mapping.
- Small map: Why so small? Blow up the size of the map at least 2X
- Mac Issues: Elements of the screen don’t show up on my Mac. I lose the entire map at times… (by the way, I don’t notices this problem on my PC at work)
- Contact Information: I hate websites that make you give personal information in order to get the full features. As a real estate agent, Anna already gets 2 to 3 junk emails a day from House Values (the company behind Home Pages), so I’d hate to think of the consequences of a potential home buyer giving them a phone number. Be VERY weary of giving them an email unless you want lots of emails that border on spam.
Home Pages is the only real estate search site that I’ve seen that even remotely compares to Trulia… and it has one MAJOR advantage over Trulia in that it is using updated Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data instead of screen scraping real estate sites. This is a huge advantage in that I’ve been told via email, IM, comments, etc that the data on Trulia is incomplete and outdated.
In many ways, my heart is really with the Trulia team because I think they are offering a superior search. I really like the clean UI, the RSS feeds, the home statistics, etc. but if they don’t have the most up-to-date homes available on the market, then I’d be hard-pressed to recommend their site to anyone looking to buy a home. For this reason, I’d have to say that Home Pages currently leads the market at the best publicly-available home search. If you haven’t checked their site out already, then use this post as inspiration to get an idea of where the future of real estate search is heading!