Ever since online home search took over from newspaper classifieds as 'the' way to go about finding a home, it's been a pretty bog-standard affair. Lifestyle-focused and map-based, pretty much every property listings service looks and feels the same. But not anymore...
In order to try and gain an edge over its rivals in what is one of the internet's most ultra-competitive markets, listings giant Trulia has come up with something altogether different - it's just launched "Trulia Suggest", a personalized recommendation service that aims to customize home search according to buyer's wants and needs.
Until now, home search has been a very linear affair. You tell the search engine what your budget is, how many rooms you need and specify a general area where you want to live, and it throws up a random bunch of homes that fit those loose parameters. It works to an extent, but you'll still need to wade through dozens of properties that are clearly not what you're looking for.
Trulia Suggest promises to change that experience and do away with most of the 'spammy' home listings that pop up, delivering only those properties that closely match your personal tastes and interests.
It's an ambitious step by Trulia, and for now the service is only available in beta mode which means it probably won't be all that perfect, for now anyway. But that's kind of the point really, for Trulia Suggest runs on algorithms that "learn" over time, meaning that the more it gets to know about you and your personal tastes, the better its recommendations will be.
To start getting suggestions from Trulia, you'll need to sign up for the service first of all. Once that's out of the way, Trulia will then start tracking your activity on its site, slowly building up a history of the things you like and dislike about the different properties you look at. Once Trulia Suggest thinks it knows enough about you, it'll begin offering up suggested properties that it believes are suited to your tastes.
At first, the some of the suggestions may be a little iffy, but whenever that happens there's the option to "hide" those properties, which effectively tells it that you don't like that choice at all - this being how the service slowly learns about your preferences.
Trulia Suggest's recommendations will automatically update in real-time as you browse through the site, taking note of specifics like your preferred location, budget range and so on.
It remains to be seen how much people will like Trulia Suggest, or how effective its recommendations will be, but the feature definitely helps to set it apart from the competition. If it does prove to be successful though, you can bet your house that sites like Zillow et al will follow up with something similar.