Quick thoughts on the new Realtor.com

Realtor.com released a major site update in beta yesterday. I’m at 37,000 feet as I write this and don’t have much time, but wanted to offer a few quick observations:

  • The site now features recent solds from nearly 50 MLSs (that number will surely grow soon, public record data fills the gaps in the meantime). Sales histories, tax histories, neighborhood data, school data and oodles of data points also hang off every listing. This great for end users, but there will are some in the industry who will think participating MLSs crossed the line by feeding this data to a public site. I happen to disagree with that perspective, but this is going to raise a few hackles.
  • Along similar lines, my first reaction was to try and think how the RPR – which sits behind a digital moat – and this site, which is public, are meaningfully different. It’s a question filled with all kinds of political hot potatoes. I’m cool with a public site featuring tons of data that helps Realtors market themselves and their listings, but I’m not sure it’s going to go down too well in the RPR camp. I’m cool with that too.
  • The user experience is significantly improved. It’s fast. And the faceted search functionality is really well done. Both of these things can be chalked up to the dev work on Move.com’s “Find” app which was, interestingly, originally built for use by the RPR.
  • The “Find a Realtor” tool is a major development – or at least it will be when the kinks are worked through (results for the neighborhoods I searched were a little muddled.) As of right now, you can search for a Realtor in any area by the number of active listings they have. I know: sales activity is not a perfect measure of aptitude, but it’s a darn good place to start. If I’m going to sell my home, I can now quickly find the Realtors in my neighborhood who are really working – and discount those who aren’t. The Houston Association of Realtors did something similar a few weeks ago, and I think we’ll continue to see more of it.
  • I wish they would stop confusing new listing email alert, saved search and favorite property functionality by bundling it in something they’re calling “Search Assist.” Call things what they are, place them where people are most likely to use them and invite interaction with them with clear calls to action (e.g. – “Get new listings via email”). Trulia does this really well.
  • I think it’s time Realtor.com (and every other online listings site) started labeling “Featured listings” accurately. They are “Advertisements.”

More to come …