The latest batch of new features at real estate site Trulia.com includes a simplified blogging platform, mobile tools for property searches that use your phone as a divining rod for for-sale homes in the area, and information feeds that provides customized property listings and other area-specific information — including blog posts and other user-generated site content — within the locations that visitors are searching at the site.
The mobile tools released today include customized applications for a series of Internet-capable phones, including the iPhone, and for the Dash, an Internet-connected global positioning system designed for driving use.
The Trulia Blogging Platform allows any site user, including agents, brokers and consumers, to create blog posts at the site — this platform builds upon user-generated content at the site’s question-and-answer section, called Trulia Voices. ActiveRain, Realtor.com, RealTown, Point2 and HomeGain are among the other real estate sites that also offer blogging platforms.
Photos and video can be displayed in blog posts, said Heather Mirjahangir Fernandez, a Trulia spokeswoman, and site users can choose to sort blog posts, questions and answers, and comments by area and by category, such as "home buying," "home selling," and "market conditions," among a list.
The questions and answers and blog content can be viewed independently in an intermingled list, and site users can subscribe to blog information via automated feeds.
Bloggers who use the platform can identify whether they are a real estate professional or a home buyer or home seller, among other categories, and can identify with a location or several locations, including states, cities and neighborhood areas.
The Trulia Voices section of the site has grown to about 300,000 registered members since it launched in May 2007, Fernandez said, and about one-third of those members are agents and brokers.
There is an average of 1,000 contributions per day at Trulia Voices, and question posed there get an average of four answers – the first answer is typically posted within 20 minutes. Content from the new blogging platform will be featured at the Trulia Voices section of the site.
Trulia’s "Local News Feed" is another new feature that displays a series of market statistics, blog posts and other user-generated content in a list below the search area at the site’s home page for a single market area or a list of areas, based upon property searches conducted by users.
The feed, which users can subscribe to via RSS, or really simple syndication, can be customized to provide information for up to five areas. Market data featured in the Local News Feed include new property listings, home-price changes, upcoming open houses, median home-price trends, average price per square foot data, and recently sold homes.
A new set of mobile tools, from the TruliaMobile section of the site, allows consumers and real estate professionals to view a list of nearby for-sale homes on the iPhone and other Internet-capable mobile phones and devices that are equipped with global position system or other location-aware technologies.
The mobile property listings display, customized for a variety of devices, allows users to view current for-sale homes and open house events in the vicinity, and to view property listings on a map and get driving directions.
Fernandez said that Trulia teamed with LightPole, a mobile technology company that launched real estate services in July, to offer the new mobile tools. In addition to its application specifically designed for the iPhones and for the iPod touch, Trulia’s mobile tools are available for BlackBerry, Blackjack, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and other brands of mobile devices. The iPhone and iPod touch application can be downloaded from Apple at www.itunes.com/appstore.
Trulia also announced a house-search application for the Dash Express GPS, which is an Internet-capable GPS device that is designed for driving use.
The bulk of the property listings displayed at the Trulia site are shared through distribution agreements with brokers, and Trulia has an inventory of about 3.5 million homes for sale, Fernandez said.
The company sums up its latest site additions as the "Three P’s": personalization through its customized "news" feeds, portability through its mobile tools and participation through its blogging platform.
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