Trulia has rolled out a bot that can dig up rental listings and local information in response to questions asked through Facebook Messenger.

  • Trulia's new bot can send listings that match search queries asked via Facebook Messenger, along with other data.

Trulia has rolled out a bot that can dig up rental listings and local information in response to questions asked through Facebook Messenger.

The bot appears to mark the first foray by a listing portal into a technology that some believe will come to play an important role in the early stages of the home search — to the benefit of real estate agents and search sites alike.

Trulia’s bot only supports rental searches for now, but the listing portal hinted that it might lend a helping hand to homebuyers in the future.

Consumers can access the bot by opening Facebook Messenger on a smartphone and performing a search of “Trulia” in the app’s search bar.

Trulia-bot-Flow

After tapping “Trulia” in the same way that you would tap a Facebook friend to send a message to that friend, you can use basic commands or questions to get the bot to fetch 10 listings that meet certain criteria.

Type and send “Rentals around $1,200 in Williamsburg, NY” to the bot, for example, and the bot returns 10 listings that fit the bill, along with an invitation to sign up for daily listing alerts.

Users can can swipe through photos and basic information on every property included in each batch of listings — all from within Facebook Messenger. They can also click listing photos in Messenger to pull up full listings on Trulia’s mobile website.

You can also ask for local information to get neighborhood data like crime stats, demographic composition, median age, percentage of married people and percentage of owner-occupied homes.

Consumers who sign up for the alerts receive 10 listings that match their previous search query at 9 a.m. EST everyday. Users can opt out of the updates or change the criteria of your search.

Other bots designed to help homebuyers and renters include Holmes, which can answer questions such as “What’s the market like right now?” and “What neighborhoods are good for bicycling.”

By automating question responses, “lead bots” could help agents spend more of their time and resources dealing “with the types of questions and interactions that are far more likely to result in a client relationship,” industry expert Russ Cofano recently wrote.

That’s why bots are such a promising technology for listing portals, he said: they hold the potential to increase the ROI of ad products.

“And the better the ROI, the more the portals can charge,” Cofano said.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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