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OpenHouse.com is the latest effort from real estate brand conglomerate Realogy to capitalize on the web and today they have expanded the site‘s coverage to all its brands.

They’ve built out the site as a single destination for buyers to build and create a private open house itinerary. The site lists thousands of open houses across the country and pulls the listing inventory from across its brand portfolio (Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby’s).

The idea is a good in theory. Functionally however, the site was clunky and overall, I found the site a pretty disappointing experience.

Design wise it is uninspired and bland. Functionally, it was confusing and unintuitive. Luckily (for Realogy anyway), it is still in beta, and a “consumer-facing marketing campaign is not scheduled until later in the year” – meaning they still have a few months to work out the kinks.

They really need to dust this thing off and put a little elbow grease into shining it up a bit before they do. How about maps with a satellite, bird’s eye even street level views? What about giving me an RSS feed of the search so I don’t have to keep coming back? The ability to output my search to a KML file so I can pull it into Google Earth and preview my route would be cool too.

Thankfully, their press release seems to have anticipated my concerns (not sure why you’d release a half finished site though…):

In the months ahead, the OpenHouse.com management team will look to
enhance functionality on the site with a focus on Web 2.0 technologies
that tap into search and social book marking, rich media interfaces,
user-generated content and social networking technologies. The team
will also look to identify and consider appropriate alliances with
content providers with the intent of expanding OpenHouse.com’s depth
and coverage of U.S. real estate markets

The bigger question is are open houses still relevant? Today on real/diaBlog they give us some reasons why real estate video is killed the open house.

It seems to me that driving around neighborhoods visiting open houses is an incredibly inefficient way to find a home you want to buy.

The Internet has given us amazing tools by which we can refine a real estate search down to a manageable level. And Tony and Danilo are right, video — when used appropriately — can be an incredibly useful method by which you can filter out the homes you want to look at, making the step of visiting an open house largely redundant.

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