Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC is launching a new Web site that aims to take some of the drudgery out of property searches, providing consumers with more ways of expressing their preferences and trying to anticipate what they’re looking for.
Coldwell Banker’s new site can identify a user’s location as soon as they come to the site, and serve up properties in that area. Then, drawing on predictive search techniques employed by sites like Amazon.com, profiles are constructed for each visitor, allowing the site to suggest homes they might be interested in.
For the more adventurous, the new site can even dispense with searches based on a geographic area and property type altogether, attempting to divine the user’s ideal property by showing them a series of images that they can give the thumbs up or thumbs down to.
Coldwell Banker’s image-based "BlueScape Search" — which company officials compared to the "build it yourself" Internet radio station, Pandora — may be the most radical feature of the brokerage’s new site, which launches today in beta test mode.
But the site’s main search page, which employs a more traditional query box and results pages, also includes some new tricks that Coldwell Banker says add to its versatility.
"We didn’t just do a redesign on a high level," said Helen Galasso, Coldwell Banker’s vice president of interactive marketing. "We ripped the site apart and started from the ground up."
While users can fill out all the usual inputs — location, price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms — there’s also a keyword search box that facilitates "long tail" searches for special property characteristics like a three-car garage, terrace or heated pool. …CONTINUED
Since terms may vary from region to region — one person’s "boat dock" is another’s "boat slip" — "we’ve left it up to the consumer to search whatever they are looking for," Galasso said.
Search results boundaries can be redrawn on a map, allowing users to see properties in an area that would be hard to define in words — such as two communities on opposite sides of a river.
Click on a listing, and users are presented not only with the usual details about the property and a "call to action" to contact the listing agent, but a "You may also like" box featuring other properties. The properties are selected by the site on the basis of characteristics of other homes consumers have expressed interest in.
Consumers can also assign ratings of properties of one to four stars. Other users can’t see the ratings, but agents can use the ratings as feedback to better understand how their listings are viewed by consumers.
The site also integrates video and social networking, providing access to videos on Coldwell Banker’s YouTube channel, Coldwell Banker On Location.
Galasso said the beta test site unveiled today is the first of three iterations, with additional features to be added by this spring.
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