After launching a new website with some wow features such as a visual search for homebuyers and personalized match scores, Homes.com is focused on making home search easy and “connecting buyers to agents who can help them,” says David Mele, President of Homes.com. “We don’t plan to get into the transaction. But, there is a place for the iBuyer model,” he notes.
The truth is, says Mele, “finding a home is the easiest thing an agent does. Their value is in setting a price, negotiating and managing the emotions of the buyer and seller during the process. We think the future is that the agent will be in the middle of the transaction for a long time,” says Mele.
That’s why Homes.com continues to innovate its home search. The new consumer-facing features, as well as real estate pro-specific enhancements, are expected to create more opportunities for real estate professionals to connect with in-market consumers. This commitment strengthens the company’s policy of always sending consumer inquiries to the listing agent whether or not they are preferred advertisers.
Homes.com Snap & Search BETA enables shoppers to upload photos of homes whose looks they like and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to return local listings with a similar architectural style or exterior finish. Using machine learning algorithms, the site will analyze hundreds of millions of property images to provide matches for the end user.
“For a long time, the home search has been based on typing words and numbers into an interface, such as a search box. But, that world is changing,”
says Mele. “Imagine driving through a neighborhood and snapping a photo of a home you like, uploading it to Homes.com and getting search results based on that exact photo—that’s what we’re doing.” Mele sees this type of search being as popular as the voice-enabled search. “You can search based on a photo of a kitchen or appliance you like, or a patio and yard you want,” he says. Homes.com is currently working on an Amazon Alexa skill that will allow a user to ask Alexa to show them homes in a specific price range and Alexa will text results to users.
Another new search function is personalized ‘match’ scores for every search result—Homes.com Match uniquely asks users their “must have” and “nice to have” amenities along with their other preferences like desired schools, then prominently displays a “Match” score (e.g., 92%) for each home in their results based on those parameters. Best matches are listed first to help users narrow the search quickly.
Overall, says Mele, “There is so much power in machine learning. It can simplify things. It takes a massive hunting expedition and offers results in a more personalized fashion. And, people love easy.” For more information, go to homes.com.
How do you feel about the iBuyer mode trend in which Open Door, Zillow, and Redfin are participating? Do you think it will replace the need for an agent? Post your comment below.