Real Estate Agents, Let's Get on the Same Page Here
23 Jun 2016
When we were first designing BuyerNeeds.com, we wanted a central location where buyer agents could ‘post’ their buyer needs and also a place for where listing agents could ‘search’ for buyer needs. However, we ran into a big hurdle right off the bat.
When we were testing initially, we noticed that agents had different ways of describing the location of where their buyer would like to live. While one agent would describe the location by using a city, another might use a zip code or a specific neighborhood while another might try to give boundaries by using roads as reference points... or even combinations of all of the above. This inconstancy was noticed when verbally communicating with other agents, at office meetings and predominantly evident on Facebook where agents are posting their buyer needs. Below are actual buyer needs posted by agents to Facebook.
Not only is this information inconsistent across the board when agents were posting/sharing buyer needs (on social media or within a brokerage), the inconsistency overlaps to listing agents who were searching for buyer needs. One listing agent might be searching by using keywords while another might be searching using a neighborhood, zip code, etc.
Our first take was a ‘text to text’ search approach.
Initially BuyerNeeds.com was leaning towards text to text search feature. This meant that the agent posting a buyer need would have to fill in mandatory location fields such as state, county or counties, city or cities, zip code(s), school(s) neighborhood(s) for every single post. Once posted, we would attach all of this location information to this buyer need so this buyer need could become searchable based on the location criteria that was entered upon posting. Meaning if a listing agent searched for any of the location criteria that the buyer agent listed, that buyer need would be returned in the results - text to text. Not only was this time consuming to post, this lacked the dynamic ability we needed to render results due to an overlooked location field not entered by the agent that was posting.
This was a great initial approach but we needed something better for the agents. What if there was a way a listing agent could not only search by entering a city or zip code, but they could narrow down their search even more by enter a listing address? And what if this could be accomplished in turn by not having the agent that is posting enter any of this information? We all love automation, don’t we? Okay, enough with the questions.
Enter our dynamic search feature.
We needed a solution that would render results when a listing agent would search for any location. So a more dynamic search was engineered and implemented. This meant that a user could now perform a variety of location based searches to find buyers for their listings. This could be anything from a specific listing address to a general city (or greater) search. And all of this criteria is automatically added to every single buyer need on the backend by… simply outlining on a map where the buyers would like to live.
Now, when submitting a buyer need, we ask for the agent to outline where their buyers would like to live on a map. Once outlined, we gather all of the location information within the outline and attach it to the buyer need automatically. This means that an agent's post now includes every address, neighborhood, school, zip code, city, county and state within the outlined area and it is automatically attached to their buyer need on the backend.
Since we now have all location information attached to every single buyer need, every single buyer need is now dynamically searchable meaning a listing agent can search by using any location information that the listing agent chooses. This allows the listing agent to perform very specific searches or very general searches and everything inbetween. This solution is simple for the agent that posts and in turn, gives the listing agent the freedom to perform a search using their search criteria of choice.
Since we now include all of the location information automatically in every single buyer need, we eliminated the buyer agent/listing agent inconsistencies when posting or searching buyer needs across the board.
Below is a screenshot of an actual buyer need post by an agent. It’s organized in a way to provide all of the basic information to the person viewing this buyer need. The buyer need has a title, an automatically generated Main Area (city) based off of the outline the agent made on the map, a price range, the type of property their buyers are wanting, optional keywords, a quick overview of the buyer need and the post includes a map outline where their buyers wish to live. Let’s not forget that every buyer need posted is agent branded.
We spoke briefly about Facebook and the inconsistencies that we noticed when agents were posting and we would like to close with this: we are huge fans of Facebook. Facebook is a powerful tool for real estate agents and we do have a sharing API built into the site that actually encourages our agents to share their posts to Facebook once they post to BuyerNeeds.com.
The difference that you will notice is once a buyer need is shared to Facebook, the shared post includes a title, #BuyerNeed, price range, overview and the map image outlining where their buyers wish to live. All of the information is included and it also includes a great map for a visual reference. And the best part is, all of this is generated and included automatically when sharing.
Below is an actual buyer need shared to Facebook after it posted to BuyerNeeds.com.