Thanks to Pandora we no longer have to search for new music. Pandora searches for us. We set up a play-list on a genre, song or band and new tracks present themselves based on common attributes. When we like or dislike each new track, Pandora learns our tastes. And continues to refine the tracks it adds to our play-list. Extend that matching logic across the entire user base and the app becomes exponentially smarter. More valuable.
It makes other ways of searching for music feel archaic.
Like searching for real estate listings is today.
There’s no question that designers and UI experts have made real estate as pretty as can be. And developers have made it simple and quick. Everything from walkability scores to education data and local blogs have been mixed into the experience. But in the end, searching for homes is still arduous. Users are forced to manually weed through their options.
One of the most ironic facets of real estate search as it is today is the set of fields commonly provided to users at the onset of the process (location, beds, bath, price). For these things are not always what becomes important to them in the final leg of their decision making. How often did your seller not buy the 4 bed, 3 bath, $650,000 home and instead choose the 3 bed, 2 bath $500,000 place because it had a better view, a bigger back yard, a different school district, or a finished basement to die for?
Real estate search today might be pretty, mashed and fast. But it’s not smart. Or intuitive. Or built to do anything other than to provide us a fabulously detailed patch of content we have crawl through.
But imagine a Pandora for real estate. A system that allowed users to tailor a search by liking and disliking the listing results the system provides them based on their broad parameters. By crunching our responses along with those collected by all who came before us, search could be considerably more productive.
The nuances of how this could be created are not lost on me. But if Amazon can do it with books and Pandora can do it with songs, I’m convinced real estate could do it with listings. Especially if we could find a way to suck in the user generated content – the things people are thinking, tweeting and facebooking about properties. Yes, a legal minefield – but one we should attempt to sweep.
This sort of thing would be possible if we placed more energy into what could be rather than protecting what was. Or worse, indulging the real estate molehills this industry loves to turn into mountains.
A map here, an API there – big deal. This is what I’m talking about: