HouseFix launches to mixed reviews
As illustrated above, HouseFix.com aims to bring social recommendations to the home repair industry, giving homeowners a place to opine with known social connections about contractors in context rather than blindly reading strangers’ recommendations of repair professionals. The service also seeks to give contractors a way to have a stronger web presence, but more importantly, scores them based on user input and gives them a tracking mechanism for their projects.
HouseFix.com recently launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield and immediately the challenge of competitors became clear to the online audience. What about ServiceMagic? What about Angie’s List? The questions of “what about” flew in the face of the project, but HouseFix has continued to respond by noting the differences, mostly surrounding social recommendations adding desperately needed trust to the transaction and adding context. In recent history, web users have flocked to peers for recommendation and trust their opinion over any other, even that of a professional. There is an inherent obligation to make good recommendations to friends so as not to hear, “but you told me they were good, they blew up my house!”
The founders formed the company out of frustration with their own process of buying a home and seeking contractors, a business history some point to as a poor foundation for a startup, given that they have no experience in the field. It is our belief that companies born out of frustration are often fueled by passion which can, in some cases, give a company energy to survive that a typical small business does not have. The service is currently free, but a freemium model has been mentioned; we suspect contractors would foot the bill rather than users.
What no one has figured out about HouseFix
HouseFix is not unique in their recommendation idea, but what is unique is the tracking mechanism for home repairs. If HouseFix were to be acquired by a Zillow or a Realtor.com for their repair tracking mechanism, homes could theoretically have a CarFax repair history attached to their home, viewable before a purchase.
This concept would most likely be adopted by a more controversial company like Zillow and Trulia which have home value estimates that can be influenced by a homeowner’s input of updates, repairs, renovations and the like. If a major company with the bulk of existing addresses were to add an element of home repair history in an attempt to provide the public with a CarFax-like option, not only would the concept be extremely disruptive (which always means a wave of press), but would add transparency to any transaction. It would be complicated, full of legal liabilities, and a hairy mess for the real estate industry, but one that is possible if HouseFix was acquired by Zillow (or Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com or others).