Lifestyle-based Search....for the MLS?


As Onboard makes true lifestyle-based home search a reality with beta launches this fall, there is a unique opportunity for MLSs with consumer facing websites to revolutionize the way homebuyers within their Regional markets "shop" for homes…and start driving more business to their members directly. Not to beat a dead horse, but I think it’s safe to say that homebuyers consider lifestyle variables (neighborhood dynamics/vibe, proximity to amenities, school system performance, etc.) as deeply - if not more than basic parametric needs (3-bed/ 2- ba, 1500 sf, $350,000) in the home buying decision. The absolute pinnacle of what we’re offering as an industry is standard parametric/IDX search.

We’re leaving a lot to be desired, no?

So first things first, we need to deliver what the customer wants and needs to make an effective home buying decision.

Next, we're asking a lot. We want agents who are “professional area experts” but in most cases, we don’t give them the depth of localized data to back it up or to demonstrate that expertise to clients– on internal Agent systems or on consumer facing sites. By having nothing, we force them (agents and customers) to find that valuable information on websites other than our own (ouch); to find and then string together sometimes unreliable, mostly disparate and subjectively cut-and-pasted bits of information.  And then, in ways we really can’t verify (read: scary), it’s married to listings and served up to clients. On the flip side, our clients are visiting lots of random websites …other than our own…to try and understand where they should live based on what’s important to them. Lather, rinse, repeat.  What message are we sending?

Finally, we are once again kicking the door open for someone else to come in and deliver what we are not. We find ourselves ahead of the business problem this time: you - the MLS - has the listing data and Onboard has the neighborhood information and the Lifestyle “logic”. What do you say we package it up and deliver it before someone figures out how novel an idea that would be and steals our thunder?

Yes, that’s exactly what I am suggesting…

If an MLS has a strong consumer site and a Board that supports the MLS as a partner in driving more business to members, Onboard's lifestyle search and all of the unique bells and whistles that come along with it will be an incredible vehicle to further that mission. While providing clients with an online “destination” to find "home" (not a "house" but, their very best place to live), Onboard’s Lifestyle Search Engine provides agents with the details on exactly what the client is looking for and then, giving them the tools to deliver – genius all around!

Let's take it one step further.

Whether or not an MLS has a consumer facing website, imagine if an agent could have insight into deep localized content and match that up with lifestyle search within their agent MLS system/portal? Imagine if Agents could provide deeper insight to meet their needs - removing the burden from the clients without creating a burden for themselves? Imagine if an MLS provided those tools embedded in their MLS system - the one place where every agent "lives" in their listings.

Increasing agent productivity, increasing agent value to clients, driving more business to the member, provide technology solutions that give the agent the edge in a world where the consumer is armed to the teeth with information: these are the common "goals" that I hear about when I speak with Association Executives around the US. Lifestyle Search, localized content, neighborhood level detail and analytics are a surefire way to build towards those goals.

Image Credit: Wikipedia