ShackYack.com is: a sliding price scale and a separate scale for selecting property types, unique icons that are color-coded based on price, a Google-based mapping platform that displays property information from four Southern California MLSs, links to Zillow.com estimates and municipal Web sites that have rich data on individual properties, searches by ZIP code and neighborhood area and MLS number, a five-star property ratings system, user comments, neighborhood market conditions, and details on price reductions, days on market and estimated monthly mortgage payments.
To put it more simply, it’s another one of those Web 2.0 real estate sites.
“We’re just giving consumers as much information as possible and letting them act on it,” said Brock Harris, broker-owner at Brock Harris Real Estate in Los Angeles, the company that operates the ShackYack.com site.
To Harris, the Web 2.0 buzz-phrase stands for “a whole new level of usability” with online sites, and increased community interaction and transparency. His goal for the site was to achieve a real estate experience akin to shopping at Amazon.com — “to create a Web site for home buyers that replicates the more intuitive home-shopping experiences.”
Some online search sites are not providing enough relevant information to home shoppers, he also said. “Try to find a home online and you will get incomplete inventory, awkward interfaces, outdated data, or be forced to give up your personal information so a salesperson can contact you.”
The Web 2.0 real estate field is getting very competitive, he said, adding that a lot of companies are spending a lot of money to beef up real estate searches at their Web sites.
Large industry players, including Coldwell Banker, John L. Scott, Prudential, Real Living and RE/MAX, among others, have been ramping up their online real estate search sites to compete for the eyes of Internet-savvy home shoppers. And relative newcomers to the brokerage business such as CataList, Redfin, Smarter Agent and ZipRealty are leaning heavily on technology to reach and serve consumers.
Map-based searching is ideal for real estate searches, Harris said, and the goal of the ShackYack site is to make the map-search tool “useful and efficient — the ability to at-a-glance find good deals is the real value for home shoppers and buyers.”
The site features an aggregation of property information from four different multiple listing services in Southern California, which cover communities in Glendale, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, and Los Angeles. “This is like IDX on steroids,” Harris said, referring to an Internet Data Exchange standard that allows brokers to display other brokers’ listings online.
In addition to single-family homes ShackYack also includes listings of condos, land, duplexes, tri-plexes, four-plexes and larger multi-unit buildings.
Users can search in a specific map area for properties that receive the most views, the highest ratings or the most comments from other site users, and they can rate or comments on properties that they see. If they like a property they can contact Harris’ company to schedule a viewing.
Most of the features at the site do not require registration, though users are prompted to enter contact information when they request to view a for-sale property.
The site offers market statistics on neighborhood areas such as average prices, total active listings, average days on market, number of price reductions, average price reductions, and average percentage reductions.
“It’s a lead-generation site more than anything,” he said. “It’s not a new business model — it’s just a very efficient way for people to identify properties they’re interested in seeing and then contacting me.”
The site took about three months to create. So far there hasn’t been a lot of user-generated ratings and comments at ShackYack, Harris said, though he’s hoping for momentum to build once consumers become acquainted with the site. “I think we’ll have some very prolific posters — a small percentage of very active contributors. Most people will be casual users,” he said.
Harris is no stranger to unconventional marketing. Two years ago he listed a property for $1 in a marketing stunt to draw more attention to the home. “The listing price is given too much weight in the buying process. Many people think it’s the sellers who set prices. It’s not, it’s the buyers who set prices,” he said at the time.
Harris also has appeared as a guest real estate professional on Home & Garden Television’s (HGTV) “National Open House” and “My House is Worth What?” shows.