Homespin now has 120 days of public testing under their belt
Three months ago, Homespin launched in public beta, marrying the visual web with online real estate search, enriching the search experience for consumers and modernizing home shopping. After endless testing and user feedback, the Austin-based startup is adding more features and strengthening the offering, especially for real estate professionals.
After extensive testing, Homespin‘s collaborative filtering and prediction engine has been designed to be simplified, easier to use, and now features a feed for users that highlights their activities and a feed that Realtors see in the back end showcasing their client’s activities on the site, whether they like a photo of a kitchen, or leave a private message for the agent (or their spouse) about a listing. A new messaging feature is not officially, but very fondly dubbed internally by our news team as the “marriage saver,” allowing couples to communicate openly and easily throughout their hunt.
Because nearly 40 percent of home buyers initiate their home search over 120 days in advance, Homespin understands the “lookie lous” and caters well to those who want to enjoy the search process and refine their requirements prior to signing on any dotted lined. Additionally, because a consumer can only select one Realtor as their “trusted” Realtor who has access to their activities, the social referral platform is resonating with users and real estate professionals, which makes sense as Nielsen reports that 92 percent of consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
This gives Homespin an advantage in home search, and what they are seeking to do is unique and their new features are built on the idea that not only should clients’ activities be actionable (ex: call when you see someone continues to like images of bright kitchens, pointing them to a listing you know could fit), but that they should be integrated into an agent’s workflow. This caught our attention because with the new features (which we will outline in detail below), Homespin simplifies the process for an agent and brings together pieces that are often discombobulated in the real estate profession.
Details about the new features
Aside from the “marriage saver,” most of the new features are beefed up for real estate professionals.
- My Referral Network – as a Realtor, all of your Facebook friends and all clients who endorse (or “trust” you on Homespin) are automatically referred to you and those who endorse you are automatically referred to their friends as well, expanding your sphere of influence, always pointing back to you.
- Endorsement Opportunities – Homespin says that “Each person who endorses you also refers their friends to you, adding to your Endorsed Referrals. In other words, even if your friends or clients aren’t shopping for a home right now, if any of their friends are, they will see a friend has endorsed you!”
- Notes and Messages – as mentioned above, all users, both Realtors and consumers, have an inbox where clients can add notes to a property or picture and their agent is notified so they can join the conversation, taking them directly to the property listing page so no one has to search through email chains for relevant information. This is an extremely streamlined way to organize buyer communications.
- My Property Listings – listing agents can get in on the action too, as they get actionable feedback by discovering which pictures don’t appeal to buyers so they can replace them, and impress sellers by sending listing performance data and social buzz information to sellers.
For listing agents and buyers’ agents, these features improve communications, the ability to see if listing pictures are resonating, not to mention the inability to game the system of endorsements being a huge step in the right direction for real estate search. While the company is young and is only available in select markets, they plan to go national with their sights set on improving the industry from the inside out – and in a stale industry that has bored us with their lackluster innovations, it is nice to see a new approach.
Photo tour of the new Homespin:
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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