Three of the industry’s senior portal executives have given agents an exciting look into the future of listings sites.
Domain Group chief operating officer, Tony Blamey, said real estate portals will increasingly tap into the “internet of things”, in which everyday products collect and exchange data.
Mr Blamey told an REB Leadership Series event for portal executives that this will give portals invaluable data about buyers and how they’re navigating the house hunting process.
“Think about that from a property point of view... your car would be enabled to communicate with you so your car becomes a device in effect,” he said.
“You go to an open home and there are devices or beacons, so we know you’re there and how long you’ve spent there. Think of the auction... we could start recording bids live and knowing what the supply and demand for a property is because we’ve got sensors everywhere.”
Mr Blamey also raised the idea of portals providing buyers with increasingly personalised information.
For example, buyers who are concerned about school zones might be fed more of that information instead of something that is of less interest to them.
“We should know you well enough as a consumer that we’re pushing the right content to you,” he said.
“That comes back to the internet of things. If we know you’re looking in Seaforth [in Sydney] for a property, that it’s giving you relevant properties in Seaforth and not somewhere else.”
Give them what they want
Onthehouse Group chief executive, Chris Meehan, said real estate portals will invest heavily in coming years to make their sites more user-friendly.
“Everything is about the search. Improving the search experience can change the game like we saw Google did when they launched,” he said.
Mr Meehan said property searchers want access to related information such as sale history and proximity to schools, but in an easier format than what is currently available.
Information that is spread over several sites will increasingly become consolidated in a smaller number of places.
“It’s like booking a hotel, you want to get as much information as you can before you turn up at the hotel and be confident it’s going to have a nice room and you’ll have a nice experience,” Mr Meehan said.
“Consumers are after the same level of comfort when dealing with the most important decision in their lives, which is selling and buying a home.”
But don’t give them everything they want
However, Homely co-chief executive, Jason Spencer, said portals will have to be careful about overloading consumers as they develop new features.
Mr Spencer said US portals Zillow and Trulia have “convoluted” the search experience for house hunters with the amount of features they’ve added.
“You’re limited in terms of space and what you can do, so I hope that the innovation around the search experience starts to improve,” he said.
“If you look at what Apple has done with their products, they actually take features out of the mix to improve the search experience. We’re actually very big on that. If you look at our search experience, there’s a lot less going on. There’s no ‘next’ and ‘back’ page so you can browse faster. There are no ads for a reason.”