Property-search site Trulia.com today announced the launch of “Trulia Voices” — an online community that is intended to spark neighborhood dialog among users, including home buyers, sellers and real estate professionals — and also rolled out other new features.
The company, which offers about 2 million property listings nationwide, announced a site redesign, e-mail alerts to track currently listed properties and newly listed properties that match desired specifications, data for past sales, and a real estate-related widgets Web site at www.housingwidgets.com.
In concert with these announcements, the Trulia.com site officially emerges from beta mode. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2005.
Trulia Voices, which allows users to generate profiles and ranks the users based on their activities within the online community, is the latest of several real estate industry efforts to create an online community that facilitates direct interaction between consumes and real estate professionals.
Real estate valuation and property marketing site Zillow.com last month added tools that allow users to create user profiles and post questions, answers and photos for specific properties, regardless of whether those properties are for sale.
And ActiveRain.com, an online community for real estate professionals, is developing Localism, a site that will allow consumers to “interact one-on-one with agents to get your questions answered,” to get “real estate information, not just demographics and listings,” and to view a “perspective on local real estate markets from the experts,” according to a site description.
Move Inc., the company that operates the popular Realtor.com site, has also announced plans for an online community that will allow consumers and real estate professionals to interact online — the company reported that this new venture will cost as much as $6 million.
The race is on for real estate sites that are seeking to become a preferred conduit for real estate consumers to meet up with real estate professionals.
Pete Flint, CEO for Trulia.com, said the Trulia Voices platform “enables consumers to share in the conversation about what’s going on in local real estate markets,” and it can also be a useful forum for agents and brokers to “market their expertise as well as share in the conversation with consumers.”
He added, “We expect a lot of agents to contribute their local expertise. This is a way for agents to get free marketing and awareness.”
While some agents use blogging to promote their expertise to online consumers, blogging can be a drain on agents’ time and Trulia Voices allows busy agents to respond quickly and directly to consumer inquiries, Flint said. Agents can sign up for an e-mail alert when Trulia Voices participants are asking questions about a specific city or area, Flint said.
The questions and answers posed by Trulia Voices users can be specific to a city or a neighborhood within a city, so that real estate agents who participate can build up a higher ranking within a particular area based on their contributions to the online community. Users are ranked on the quantity of their postings and also on the quality of their postings — other users can vote on the usefulness of their contributions.
Users can set up a free account at the site to participate in the community. Users can specify whether they are a home buyer, home seller, both buyer and seller, real estate professional, or “other/just looking” when they set up and account.
Another feature at the site, called My Trulia, allows users to build and save a list of properties that they can track and compare to other properties, to store notes about favorite homes, and to subscribe to e-mail alerts for properties that match user-selected criteria.
Trulia also offers a variety of widgets — small applications that can be easily embedded at blogs and other Web sites, at http://widgets.trulia.com, and has launched a general site with a comprehensive list of widgets for the real estate industry at HousingWidgets.com.
The company’s own widgets include a real-time graph of median or average property listing prices and listing volume for a selected location, a map view of for-sale properties with an updating list of for-sale properties in a given area, a scrolling text list of properties for a particular city, and a Trulia property-search box.