We haven’t heard much from Roost, the IDX driven search portal, as of late. Last we heard of them they had redesigned their search pages to deal with a growing overabundance of search filters (see Roost Redesigns Search Results).
But news this week that they have expanded the markets they serve (see Roost Makes Its Nest in Jacksonville, FL) caused me to go back and take another look at the web site.
Turns out they’ve been really busy.
Roost has totally revamped the way that listings are displayed on their site. Under the old system you’d get an abbreviated property description and a handful of photos. For more information you’d click through to their preferred broker’s landing page for that individual property.
While I always liked the speed and functionality Roost provided, this aspect of the search experience was always somewhat problematic.
Any time you pass off that visitor to the broker site the problem is those landing pages are a mixed bag – some look half-decent, most downright miserable. This has been particular beef of mine for a while (see Building a New Real Estate Home Page).
It also causes the user hop back and forth between search results and property pages, making for a confusing and less than optimal experience. Frankly, the same holds true for Trulia too. And this was one of the reasons I’d moved my own personal searches off these sites and onto a more contained experience.
Seems like Roost recognized this problem and has taken steps to rectify this while at the same time changing up the value proposition they deliver to their advertisers.
Under the old model they ultimately were trying to sell the brokers the traffic they generated on their listings but it was up to the broker to capture and convert any visitors into leads.
Now pulling up a property on Roost gives you the full listing description straight from the MLS. No need to go anywhere else.
However, Roost’s advertising brokers show up as the contact information for the listing, brand and all. As a prospective buyer you can choose to schedule a showing or ask that broker for more information on the home. Clicking on any of these links pulls up a more traditional lead capture form, which is then presumably delivered to the advertising broker as a hot lead.
Interestingly, the listing broker is noted but is displayed in tiny grey text. And there is no longer any link to the listing brokers website either.
Other IDX driven search sites certainly use similar lead generation models (Estately comes to mind). But none, to my knowledge, go to quite so great a length to brand and establish other brokers as the primary point of contact for a listing. Certainly many broker web sites do just this when they display IDX listings on their own sites, but it’s definitely interesting to see a third party adopt this type of model.
Nevertheless, as a user, the new experience is far more pleasant and brings it more in line with some of the other online portals. And Roost definitely still rules with the speed it returns its queries.
It may have just regained a spot in my home searching arsenal.