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Yesterday, I discussed in some verbosity Doorsteps, a web-based homebuyer education platform that allows agents to virtually assist new buyers. Well, the company has an app, too, called Swipe.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re becoming a heavily reactionary culture. We read less, love pictures (see Pinterest’s $3.8 billion market valuation) and spout opinions about a complicated issue in moments (Keystone pipeline: yes or no?)
Doorsteps Swipe deftly mixes those undeniable truisms with realtor.com’s listing feed and serves it up on the iPhone to intelligently engage the way prospective buyers browse rental and for sale listings.
If you need any more convincing about the value of a listing’s curb appeal, Swipe is it. It’s a mug shot for your client’s home. The viewer is either going to pass judgement right away by swiping left (Is that a face tattoo?) or swiping right (He/she looks well-adjusted).
But Swipe measures much more than a gut reaction. After a number of “thumbs up” selections, you can view a simple but in-depth report of what it is you like. Presented in an easy “sale summary” is the average price of homes selected, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, year built, square footage and price-per, and even an area schools rating.
Swipe was built to mirror the Doorsteps process in that it’s a way for renters who are (or will be) prospective home buyers to engage with real estate information in a friendly, information-light format.
Greg Fischer of realtor.com (Doorsteps’s parent), who also handles content acquisition and partnerships with Doorsteps, says that the small development team examined popular visual media apps to understand how people interact with formation — even Tinder. They eschewed traditional real estate search apps as they went.
“We reverse-engineered the data flow,” Fischer says. “One thing that intimidates renters from becoming buyers is having to know what information to search with in a website or mobile app, like needing to know the beds and bath or price range or zip code. So we just wanted users to make a judgement call on what they’re interested in. The summary feature is Swipe telling them, ‘Hey, this is what you’re interested in.’”
After enough snap judgements, a telling pattern of preference emerges.
Doorsteps Swipe creates the same experience for renters, its primary audience. They can scroll through options, view additional pictures, maps, school data, pet policies and also contact the property manager. Like the “for sale” option, a property can be immediately shared through email, a text message or Facebook.
In the time it takes a person to swipe a thumb across an iPhone screen, your listing could be in the inboxes and news feeds of the user’s social circle, where it faces an unpredictable jury of subjectivity and even more gut-reaction scrutiny.
Fischer made it clear to me that like its parent application, Swipe is an educational tool helping aspiring homebuyers understand not just how to buy, but how to use real estate information. And on that front, it absolutely succeeds. Swipe is not a tool for the second or more sophisticated homebuyer; it’s an introductory process. However, I can see its appeal to all demographics within the market. After all, aren’t your parents using online dating sites?
I summarize my two-column infatuation with Doorsteps and Swipe thusly: it’s no longer about the information, it’s about how information is presented to help the consumer.
For far too long, the MLS was a proud, fee-based advantage for real estate agents. It was your broadsword, aggressively unsheathed and wielded forcefully against for-sale-by-owners and fledging web-based home search services. Today, the battlefield is a clanging, confusing melee of broadswords. Real estate data is grossly ubiquitous, and it’s making cautious shoppers retreat from the market.
So now that everyone has the same weapon, it comes down to who can operate that weapon with the most skill. Doorsteps and Swipe are marching to the front lines.
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