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Who’s Who in Lifestyle Search

December 23 2010

findIn evaluating the real estate industry and the Lifestyle Search solutions available, there are four notable companies to consider.

Onboard Informatics – Lifestyle Search Engine

Onboard Informatics, is offering the first true lifestyle search that allows a consumer to find neighborhoods and properties using lifestyle criteria instead of simply the usual search based on bedrooms, baths and price.

In order for lifestyle search to work effectively the underpinnings of the data need to be comprehensive, relevant and recent. The data from Onboard Informatics, for example, includes data from the 50 states plus Puerto Rico. It includes 940 metro areas, over 3,000 counties, more than 25,000 cities and more than 75,000 neighborhoods.

Their system provides 1.6 million points of interest, including over 100,000 schools with test scores, ratings and reviews as well as population demographics, housing trends, local points of interest, school ratings and many more. The system uses this data to identify places based on subjective score, objective values, projections, estimates and even hyper local ratings and reviews.

All of this information is used to determine the best matches within the area, returning a personalized list specific to that user’s desires. Info can be displayed in a list, on a map, or in any variety of ways for the user to fully investigate their “Best Places” – and the listings within their matching towns.

The Lifestyle Search Engine is delivered as an API that allows for complete control over the user experience. The service may be called from nearly any application written in several languages.

NABEWISE – User Generated Content

lifestyle search part 4 nabewise

Companies like Nabewise are building localized information by city. They invite agents to contribute content to the site that helps consumers find neighborhoods that are ideal for families, empty nesters, wealthy, seniors, gay/lesbian and even “beautiful people”. These sites merge user generated neighborhood input with deep demographic data provided by Onboard Informatics to create a rich, interactive neighborhood level experience. Though NABEwise does not yet have a national footprint currently, the concept of combining of involving consumers to contribute to the depth of neighborhood level intelligence is very intriguing.

eNeighborhoods – Community Information

eNeighborhoods has developed their Envoy API that allows large brokers and MLSs to deploy demographic information via map overlays to consumers. Neighborhood Envoy Reports enable agents to produce localized presentations to print, email or post on the web. Reports can be personalized and include school ratings, local demographics, sold properties, local points of interest, Google Maps and more.

eNeighborhood Envoy Web enables agents to add a localized neighborhood information and map “mashup” widget to their website or blog. This widget allows agents to provide their website visitors with localized neighborhood, school and points of interest details to enhance their website stickiness and generate more leads.

The company’s Neighborhood Envoy Mobile helps a consumer to answer the following types of questions – How far is this house from my office? Where’s the nearest elementary school? Who lives nearby? Never again will an agent be caught without these answers when touring homes with clients. Neighborhood Envoy Mobile is accessible from any Apple or Android mobile device to get all the details about the surrounding neighborhood.

Spatial Match – Interactive Lifestyle Map Overlays

lifestyle search part 4 spatialmatch

Spatial Match is also launching a search product with lifestyle search overlays on product search. This tool allows the consumer to choose criteria like shopping or lifestyle and find the hot spots that match their criteria.

Lifestyle Search – How can it help you sell more real estate?

Purpose, Goals, and Results

What if a consumer could simply choose one major lifestyle factor like “Best places to raise a family” or “Best places to Retire” and then the search began from there? MLSs and brokers could engage consumers with a search that is geared to their individual needs first and foremost. Instead of first asking for input on the number of bedrooms and baths, websites could ask consumers to choose their overall lifestyle goals and then begin the search from there. Organized real estate could clearly demonstrate that we “get it”. It isn’t just about the home itself – quality of life is created from the community and its fit with the unique needs of each family.

And, wouldn’t it be better for the agent if he knew right away that his potential new client is interested in the best golf courses in town or the most family-friendly area? They could start a conversation that would be more targeted and resonate much better than a generic conversation might.

As we discussed earlier IDX search is simply not enough anymore. To stay relevant with real estate consumers, REALTORS® need to deliver 100% of the search parameters consumers are looking for. Agents and brokers need to continue to up the ante by offering the tools consumers want, not the tools we’re willing to give them. Consumers pay a premium to work with professionals and we have to deliver the value that justifies the premium. We have to continue to translate value by delivering the tools consumers value.

Lifestyle search isn’t just a cool little widget or a “NICE to have.” For consumers who are making the most important purchasing decision of their lives, they need rich, comprehensive, well-informed information that will help them feel comfortable about their decision and importantly, be happy in their home for many years.

To win in real estate these days, REALTORS® need to become MUCH more consumer-centric. If we really LISTEN to what they want and then deliver, the industry is going to be MUCH healthier in the long run.

I hope that this paper might open up the possibilities for you to consider the concept of lifestyle search for your website. Your customers will certainly appreciate the addition of this helpful tool.


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