A year ago, Zillow bought the outdated listings site Hamptons Real Estate Online. This month, the company’s StreetEasy branch debuted Out East, a much-improved version of the site dedicated to Hamptons real estate.
The site’s interface is visually refreshed, but it also takes steps to tailor the search experience to the types of renters and buyers who are perusing real estate in the Hamptons, where summer homes can go for $40,000 a month. Instead of showing properties’ proximities to local schools, for example, the site emphasizes how close a home is to the farmers’ market or the Hampton Jitney bus stop.
With its targeted features and approach, Out East, named after the “scenic stretch of towns along the east end of Long Island,” is filling a specific need in real estate. It’s a model Zillow could follow for highly niche real estate markets elsewhere, although Out East probably already capitalizes on the most lucrative one.
“We realized that people felt a special connection to that area,” Out East General Manager Matt Daimler said. “It got us thinking we wanted to have a brand that could evoke strong, powerful, memories of great summer vacations.”
The old site had been around for years but became outdated after the woman who ran it passed away, Daimler said. The site operated in maintenance mode with new Hamptons listings but wasn’t updated with any new technology.
Out East solves problems specific to real estate in the Hamptons, including East Hampton, Southampton, Amagansett, Montauk, Sag Harbor and other parts of Long Island. The area uses open listings, which means that other sites would show the same listings several times from different agents. Out East consolidates those listings into one and rotates which agent gets the credit.
The platform lets users search by the signifier “south of the highway,” a location many renters and buyers want. Users can also find out if they’ll have bay views or pond views; amenities like pools, tennis courts or boat dockage; and where the closest beaches and SoulCycle and Flywheel studios are.
Because the New York City and Hamptons markets are so closely linked, Zillow made the initial acquisition that led to Out East through its StreetEasy branch, which is focused on New York. Both markets are different from much of the rest of U.S. real estate — neither have longstanding or comprehensive multiple listing services while both charge higher fees and require different relationships between renters and agents. When people look at homes in the Hamptons, 40 percent of the time they’re looking from New York, Daimler said.
“Right away we’re introducing our StreetEasy audience to this new brand,” Daimler said. “People looking for expensive homes in Manhattan may also be interested in rentals or sales in the Hamptons.”