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Lifestyle Search System for Oregon Homes - A Voila! Game Changer

By Phil Butler | February 7, 2013

In real estate tech news this morning a surprising and positive discovery actually came to be from a press release. Imagine that! According to the 24-7 release, Portland Re/Max website has come up with a new and improved search technology. This one is a no BS gem of a find, a broker dropping down value for Oregon property hunters.

Okay, having tested and reported on the most advanced search engine tech in the world, skepticism had to be crawling all over this old geek on seeing this form a local player. A visit to the Oregon based agency's site "almost" ran me off too, clearly web design was not in the budget or the cards for this initiative. Neither was PR and press release writing, for the matter, but then...

Home search

Note the menu at right, I have selected Lifestyles and Homes as criteria

Many reading this will have run across a few thousand "supposed" innovations, or as Equity Group's Harlan Mayer had someone put it;

"...a real-time interactive geo-spatial search platform that delivers a totally new way to search for real estate online. Every aspect of the search process is conducted on the selected map, creating a fluid and entertaining user experience..."

Now here's the fun part. If and when a web surfer gets past the mundane, cookie cutter, BS Re/Max landing, and when the so called drill down (clicking deeper) takes one underneath a horrible call to action, Mayer's developer, whoever that was, did a fantastic job. Let me say that again so the FANTASTIC overrides all the negatives here.

Filtering of properties.

Here I have filtered to show $750k condos and health food restaurants, etc.

For years our consulting firm has advised startups and website owners on the value of each and every element of digital engagement. Then in our news aspects (we own several) we have continually stressed the importance of images, video, crisp design, and so on. The gist of all these suggestions was never missile science, the simple premise of a pretty billboard has always been there. While Re/Max Equity Group failed miserably at breaking the bonds of web ugliness Re/Max is notorious for - this search element is another story.

Here's the breakdown of what a real estate search should reveal.

  1. An easy to understand user interface - integrated with perfect buttons - overlaying a recognizable area
  2. Easily identifiable buttons - a myriad of filters, but not visually so many - windows into other rich visual elements
  3. Deep data capability - complexity has to be there - choices perfectly layered to use or not use (unobtrusive, no clutter)
  4. Rich media and data rendering - crisp organization of search query relevance - a simple viewing window
  5. Interactivity - sharing - tools that manipulate farther - Facebook and other SM capability
  6. The being there experience - proper presentation - big images - "seeing" is believing
  7. Circular navigation - similar or alternative property thumbs/data - perfect calls to action
  8. Analytic features - what I call "knowledge search" rather than keyword search - smart search

The end result of all those points up there should be a perfect mechanism for querying, filtering, experiencing (learning), and decision making (call to action). Investor or head of a family, the perfect home search engine has the tools for all. And it really is fast - real time delivering what the user clicks on.

image rendering from search

The end of the day - seeing your view before buying your view

The next screenshot shows off a great many of the features listed above. You can see I have made this one a closeup to show the Facebook and other functional operations on the engine. The little green radar which you see as circles, is actually a nice "real time" interactive touch so you can easily see the targeted property. The preview image is clear, as are all that I have found, and other options obviously abound too. Do i sound as if I like RealEstatePDX?

Property search radar

Call this one the "radar" screen or interactive.

Finally, the perfect real estate search mechanism should be more than a conventional "suggestion" engine. Google to Yahoo!, this is what you really get when you search the Web. Data though, is not really knowledge, now is it? The best search experience is one which offers the right tools for the user to "learn" about what it is he or she is searching for.

How ever much money Harlan Mayer paid to have this engine created (and I suspect it was a bundle) the effort has paid off. The last aspect of the so called Lifestyle Search System is revealed in the screenshot below. Maybe the average home buyer does not need to analyze market trends, or slice and dice such variables as; sales probability, buying patterns, sales momentum, and sales composition, but it's certain a great search tool should possess the metrics for investor types and other agents.

Trends at a glance

Trends at a glance - I long to see this on a national scale

I know some of you out there had an "aha" moment just then. Sure, expansive tools like this are not everyone's cup of tea, but then Mayer-Howell has made something as simple or as complex as you need it. And hey, isn't that what Web 2.0 and innovation in general is all about? Is this search tool perfect? Not by a long shot. It's just one of the best thought out and nicest tech tools I've seen in some time.

My final thoughts are; "Who are these guys?"

As it turns out.... you'll be surprised again.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
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