Friday Flash: Pandora home search, and what Facebook’s newsfeed update means for real estate

Why haven’t companies like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and ZipRealty truly disrupted the real estate brokerage model?

Brad Stone at Bloomberg Businessweek offered his answer this week – or at least reviews the answers of others.

The consensus is that things aren’t going to change due to what I have referred to in the past as “real estate exceptionalism” – the combination of unique factors that tend to stop rational assumptions and consumers’ generalized dissatisfaction with the real estate industry dead in their tracks when it comes time to actually buy or sell.

Can we as an industry assume this will always be the case?

This piece is also a nice bit of online real estate history, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Facebook announced some big changes to newsfeed this week.

I don’t think this means anything for real estate.

Trulia releasedTrulia Suggests”.

Think of this as real estate Pandora. Instead of performing a standard search query, you tell Trulia what you like and don’t like and, over time, it learns your preferences and offers you homes that match them automagically.

It’s cool. But there are caveats, especially for brokerages or franchisors that may think it’d be good to do something like this.

First of all, the engineering required to pull this off even passably is significant. But more importantly, there is no evidence that consumers are ready to trust an algorithm to condition what they see and don’t see in home search.

“Lifestyle search”, which the industry was buzzing about a couple years ago, is a case in point. It sounded good, and there were a few solutions developed around this concept. A bunch of brokers jumped on them. But from what we have seen, engagement is low, and so is trust. People want to see everything in their search area or their price band, not just an “intelligent” selection of homes.

My advice: let the tech guys test this sort of thing until the concept is proven. released a rebrand. I like it a lot.

Remember this?

Enjoy the weekend.