Residential property educator, HomeTimes, launched its own unique and innovative property portal called HomeHunt recently.
It is run on the search capability of Google Maps’ engine meaning that users can search for homes to buy or rent near to schools, malls, hospitals, or any place of interest – if it’s on Google, it’s on HomeHunt.
“We currently have more than 800 agencies feeding their listings to HomeHunt despite only going live two months ago,” says David A Steynberg, director of HomeTimes and HomeHunt. “Right now we have, conservatively, more than 40,000 properties for sale or to rent, and by-and-large have much of the major metros covered already.”
The portal is map-based which means the challenge of indexing or – as Steynberg calls it “Twitter feed syndrome” – is entirely done away with.
“Right now the page template used by the major portals rewards those agents/agencies that have deeper pockets to pay for an extended period of visibility on page 1 in featured listing positions – especially in fast-moving suburbs,” says Steynberg, noting that HomeHunt’s map-based interface means that if a home is mapped, it is visible to all users. “The challenge we have is to ‘convince’ agents and the sellers they represent that a mapped property benefits potential buyers/tenants as they like to accurately pin where exactly their next home is located.”
Location is the adage of the property industry, with the focus previously heavily weighted to potential investment returns. Today, buyers are increasingly focusing on lifestyle factors and ease of access to and from home and work.
“Buyers will, for example, target a certain school they wish their children to attend and then buy a home close to that school,” said Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of bond originator BetterBond. “Or they will choose to buy in an area close to work so they don’t have to spend hours commuting, or perhaps in an area that is close to the beach or has a lively nightlife and so offers them great leisure facilities.
“In short, the way they envisage actually living in their new home and community has in many instances become more important to them than the returns they stand to make when they sell that property. And this is of great relevance to home sellers and their agents because it presents an opportunity to target buyers based on their interests and preferences.”
According to a recent survey by Better Homes & Gardens and the Meredith Corporation in the US, showed that the level of purchase satisfaction for homeowners depends significantly on the surrounding community and lifestyle priorities including:
#1 Ease of commuting by car – 38%
#2 Access to health and safety services – 34%
#3 Family-friendly neighbourhood – 33%
#4 Proximity to shopping centres – 32%
#5 Access to cultural activities – 21%
#6 Public transportation access – 19%
#7 Nightlife and restaurant access – 18%
#8 Golf-friendly area or easy access to golf courses – 6%
HomeHunt’s search capabilities are in line with consumer needs and wants, and tries to better bridge the requirements of home hunters and reputable estate agents.
“Because HomeHunt is powered by HomeTimes, the portal comes with a Facebook audience of more than 300,000 followers – the biggest Facebook audience of all active portals in the country,” says Steynberg. “We look forward to better serving the needs of the industry and consumers.”
Agents can contact Leanne Parker, email@example.com, to sign up for free listings for sale or for rent