Lifestyle Search Essay Contest Entries

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ESSAY #1

Sterling Geluch, Posted on Active Rain

The Community Part Matters, not the Cutting Edge Part

The real estate search of the future will rise out of the experiences of frustrated consumers. It will be conceptualized without stopping to ask "... but how will we do that?"

Read More...The Community Part Matters, not the Cutting Edge Part

ESSAY #2

Adam Johnson

The future of real estate property and lifestyle search is one that offers the user greater transparency and understanding of the market.  The new property and lifestyle search will be a 3-dimensionally integrated map. This format will give a birds eye visual of all property in a certain area,  every building and property line will be outlined, much like the current view used by Google Maps. Every building will have information provided by the maps program, the user will have the ability to click on a building and receive information and photos of the property.  The maps search will provide the user with the ability to create their own search boundaries, escaping the current limitations of "Search by Neighborhood". This map will contain two major tabs, one tab for the regular "property search", and the second tab will contain "Lifestyle Data". This map will be one single page, and will only refresh or leave the current search page if instructed by the user.  The map search will be a  system that gives the user the ability to constantly change their boundaries and organically create their own map.  Charles Darwin once said "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change".

The limitations of searching by location make the current property search a very inefficient and frustrating process.  The majority of searches will only allow the user to search by neighborhood or zip code, in the urban environment, this can be very inefficient. The majority of buyers in the urban environment aren't searching by just one neighborhood, or in only one Zip code, but they are searching in specific segments of various areas. The new search will allow the user to highlight specific parameters in multiple neighborhoods at the same time. The chosen outlines will be highlighted on the map and from this point the user can begin to define his or her search.  The user should be able to redefine their search without completely restarting the search.

The current systems of property search involves multiple pages, if the user chooses to broaden or narrow the search, they will have to go back to the starting point. The new system of search will allow the user to change the search criteria without creating an entirely new search.  The new system will only be one page, windows will pop out and different tabs can be created and saved, but the current search will never restart unless specified by the user.  The major tab on the page will contain the regular search criteria, as the user clicks on the tab, the sub-tabs will pop-out  (size, price, elevator, doorman, pet friendly, new construction, renovated, etc.). After the search criteria is decided, property that is relevant to the search will then be highlighted.  The user can then click on the highlighted building and photos with a brief description will pop out of the map.  If the user decides to click on this chosen property, the map will remain on the screen, but a new tab will pop out, much like the current Firefox multiple tab application.  If the user decides the property is desirable, the user can then save the chosen property to the map under a save property tab. The secondary tab will contain data that is not property specific, but relevant to lifestyle search.

The lifestyle Data tab will calculate, and graph information regarding the chosen property segments the user has highlighted.  If the user decides they want to know the percentage of doorman buildings in a chosen area, the map will calculate this data, and provide the information in graph form to the user.  If one wants to find the percentage of two bedroom apartments in the specific area, the map will graph and provide this information. The map will also contain tabs that allow the search to determine  nearby establishments to a specific property (grocery store, school, park, subway, etc).

The future of property search needs to be a easy to use integrated map with the ability to seamlessly alter segments of the individual search.  We are a visual culture, and our consumers demand products that give visual information. When combined with existing data, maps can create the clearest picture of the real estate markets providing the user a visual overview of the landscape.  This experience needs to work in a easy to use format where the user can move easily between search criteria.  The map search will integrate the individuals search criteria with existing market data giving the map the ability to constantly change and evolve.  This new way of integrated search will make the search experience personal and provide the user the ability to build their own map and create a visual picture of the search.

ESSAY #3

Angie Vandenbergh - Webmaster - Information Technology

I'm quite excited by the idea of lifestyle searching. It's one of the truly unique and cutting-edge thoughts I've seen in the industry recently. It bugs me that the logic behind it has always been there and yet we have not used it online. How have we overlooked this? Before the online world, this is how people have really searched. It makes me start exploring possibilities.

It's about conversations. Selling homes is about working with people. Let's create more personal environments in the online search; get closer to the real conversations that people have with their agents, friends & family when looking for home. Some of the best agents do not always understand computers, but they do understand people. I see this as a way to make the computer search closer to those in-person conversations and connections.

When you meet with an agent, the first question asked is not how many bedrooms you want in your home. The first questions are to help understand your needs and motivations. Why are you moving? What things are important in your lifestyle? You don't spend money on your biggest purchase, because the house has 4 bedrooms and that's it, criteria met. You invest your hard earned dollar in a home that makes you feel and live your life in a certain way. It's an emotional experience.

I see hope for more personally focused information online. We have a lot of technology, but sometimes it only goes so far. I think of this example, email is wonderful. I would never want to give it up. But in some cases it's just better to pick up the phone. Searching for bedrooms, bathroom, and city will always be part of it... but lifestyle questions are a part of it too, and usually the bigger part. It's the part we've been leaving out online. Lifestyle searching should answer those questions.

Can we really bring those answers and that feeling online? Can we make it a cohesive collection instead of just bits and pieces of data?

Specifically, can we ask the right questions to help an investor find the best opportunity? Help the family with children find a home with the right combinations of schools, parks and neighborhood feel? Find a home near both a person's work and activities? Or help a couple find a home that is between two work locations? Help a son find a place that helps him care for his father? Help find the perfect vacation home close to activities that each family member likes? Can we show someone why its fun to live downtown and how to do it? Or which factors and areas to look in for a better resale?

It's so much more than just asking city, state, zip, number of bedrooms and baths. Can we make the search online more fun and not so tedious? Can we make it more about life? Can we get people to spend more time dreaming and not just looking through lists? Can we meld the old with the new? I don't know these answers yet, but I can assure you that I am thinking about the possibilities.

If you read this far, and enjoyed it, and now you're asking your own questions, then be sure to vote for this post to win the contest! Thanks for your vote.

ESSAY #4

Danial Rothamel, aka, Real Estate Zebra

Real estate search is messed up, just look, Video

I have always said that in order to know where your headed, it helps to know where you’ve been. Clearly, where real estate search has been is in a fragmented mess. There has to be a better way. . .

View Video...Real estate search is messedup, just look

ESSAY #5

You are overhearing the conversation of a home search taking place in 2020 AD- or before.  Homeowners are Mike and Susan Smith in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Life-sized Home Robot is Unit 1-RFID3579, owned by Mike and Susan, and known as “Fetcher”).

Unit 1 Robot: Unit 1-RFID3579.  Open Source now Connecting. (Connecting with NAR) Humans Mike and Susan Smith are in search of a home on the island of Oahu, HI, USA.  Send the homebuyer profile form to RFID3579- central processing unit. USA96801@Unit 1.  (60 seconds later)  Received form.  Sending completed form now.

Unit 1: (Recording message to Mike and Susan)  Your personal home profile is ready for your review.  Frequency is scrambled to maintain confidential transmissions to your banker, broker and trust officers.  Copies in your document file marked: HOUSE SEARCH.2009.  Sample homes and neighborhood stats downloaded.”

Later that day...

Mike: Hi, Susan.  I’m picking up our messages from Fetcher. I only see one “red alert” message, so we’ll have the night to relax… I hope.  I’m on the porch with iced teas. Susan: Sure, Mike.  Be right there.  Looks like Fetcher has done a great job in getting the dinner menu prepared.  What’s up?

Mike checks the red alert and hears the recording.

Mike: Well, Fetcher knows what we want.  We’ve talked so much about needing space for your parents, it’s evident we need a bigger house.  Fetcher has contacted a broker center on Oahu to start the process.  I think our profile looks right…what do you think?  Oh, the aerial views and five house holograms are here too.  Let’s have a look at the properties!

Susan: I agree.  Looks good.  I like the Hologram for House 2.  There are great working spaces in these homes, but this is the best.  The location is near transportation and this city uses Complete Streets for safe walking and biking.  What about the pets?  Oh, yes, I see a park nearby.  Have you checked the finance sheets?

Mike: Yes, Fetcher took into account the increase in our budget for food and another Robot Unit to take care of your parents.  So, let’s submit the information to the broker center near the city recommended by Fetcher.  It’s called “Kapolei.”  There’s a profile about the city – want to read it? Susan:  You know, Fetcher and the broker did such a great job on finding our present home, I really think the city of Kapolei will have everything we need….and everything we like too.

Mike: The city stats look good.  It scored a 9 for services.  Tax rate, appreciation and future forecast is good.  There’s even an open seat on the city council for one of us to fill!

Fetcher’s batteries are being charged, so Mike sends a recording to Fetcher with a handheld unit for the Robot to hear and process later.

Mike to Fetcher: Call starting.  Fetcher, contact the Main Office of the Oahu Broker Center.  Have the referred agent contact us with paperwork for House #2 and locate file in our documents “HOUSE SEARCH.2009”.  Also order Unit 2 Robot.   Duplicate operating system of Unit 1 Robot to Unit 2 Robot.  Download NAR ‘countdown to move’ checklist and install in Robot.

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Image Credit: Orin Zebest on Flickr.com