- Consumers aren't as interested in top producers and ad budgets as many may think. They want a smooth, easy, and informed home buying experience.
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OpenHouse is a consumer-focused home search app for the lifestyle-minded homebuyer.
Platform(s): Mobile-first for iOS; browser-agnositc on desktop
Ideal for: Agents open to buyer-independent market research; those looking to recommend to clients an alternative search experience to cluttered portals
Top selling points
- User interface
- Visual search and comparison of rooms
- Depth of resident and demographic data
Things to consider
This is a buyer-first app, but savvy agents should learn to leverage its search and share features to the benefit of clients.
The age of the better home search is upon us, and OpenHouse is one of its primary conduits.
This is a visually rich, informatively elegant home search app that diligently juxtaposes deep demographic data with basic home search information.
Sure, a good looking home search isn’t unique, but what makes an OpenHouse search stand out is the integration of diverse but practical community data.
Home buyers can tap through crime rates and school ratings as quickly as they can get a read on what their neighbors read.
You can also view a geo-coded collection of nearby Twitter and Instagram accounts. You could use Yelp to uncover the best local diner, but why not hear it from its most frequent customers?
Also, do the potential neighbors drive Buicks or BMWs? And what shows and channels are they watching this week?
OpenHouse is pulling data from a number of public and private data partnerships and neatly assembling the salient points to help buyers make fully-informed property choices. After all, there is only so much one can take in by driving laps around the neighborhood.
Other data points include income per household and community race makeup.
Do the potential neighbors drive Buicks or BMWs?
Beyond providing highly detailed neighborhood metrics, OpenHouse provides unrepresented buyers with a patented agent analysis algorithm to suggest who would best help you buy a listing you’ve favorited. (This feature is a derivative of its agent search product, AgentAce.)
The tool pulls three years of performance data from the local MLS, then mixes in its math to produce a potential match.
The recommendation program compensates for sales volume as well, so it doesn’t assume the agent who sells the most is the most aptly suited. (It’s about time consumers were reminded of this.)
OpenHouse allows agent users to assemble a “buyer’s report,” as they would through their local MLS. However, this one actually looks good. Beyond the visual ergonomics, agents can select which image will showcase its respective listing.
Speaking of images, OpenHouse has packed its images — all sourced from the market’s MLS –with unique image indexing data to allow users to search by and compare homes by room characteristics.
Folks keen on tile kitchens can scroll through only pictures of kitchens with neat tile displays. Master baths, patios, fenced yards or three-car garages might also be crucial to a buyer.
It’s clear to me that the app’s intent is to simplify the home search, to reduce promotional noise and eliminate the spirit of agent competition that has for the most part polluted the online home search.
Developers clearly keyed in on what makes mobile apps enjoyable to use, not just real estate apps, but apps across many industries.
The result was a heavy introduction of iconography, eye-pleasing color schemes, and flat design. Themes are carried into every aspect of the app, from market summaries to map searches.
The user experience is enhanced by promotional headlines that pull attention to a particular listing characteristic. For example, “You won’t believe how much Austin’s most expensive house is listing for.” That sort of thing.
The promotions are specific to each market because they are driven by current data.
There’s a lot to like about the OpenHouse app, including its social sharing and commenting tools.
I’m wary only of the company’s ability to get this on the device screens of the homebuying public. Clearly, agent adoption will help in that effort.
Maybe we’ll find out when OpenHouse launches today in the App Store for San Francisco, San Jose, Greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C./Bethesda, Miami and Boston.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.