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Keeping Up with Consumers’ Needs – Real Estate Search becomes More about People, Less about Data

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By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, October 29, 2010—For the average home buyer, these days, there’s certainly no shortage of data. It’s pretty easy to find out the square footage and/or room sizes on just about any home for sale. But what about all the other things that make a decision to move so important? If you’re looking for a home in an urban area, is mass transit available and how far is it? If you’re in the ’burbs, are there conveniences such as grocery stores and pharmacies nearby?

These are the factors that truly make or break a home purchase, according to Michael Fischer, chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

“What’s happening in real estate now is that people are looking for more information than prices and what’s available in drop-down windows,” says Fischer. “Through our partnership with Onboard Informatics, they’ve designed a search that is more about people…a Lifestyle Search Engine.

“People are as emotional as they are rational,” he continues. “They want to explore or dream, and through Onboard’s creation, they can do that. It can be informational, but also entertaining.”

With Onboard’s technology, visitors to the Coldwell Banker website can target larger geographic areas, down to the county or metro. By using different categories and ranking the importance of each, users get feedback with criteria. Search options include: fun; hip and trendy; schools; arts and music; median home price; fresh air to times square; commute; mass transit or private; golfers’ paradise; convenience to amenities or “I want it all.”

“This search offers us so many ways to bring people in,” says Anna Visioli, director of Interactive Production for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “How many times has someone planned a move or relocation to a certain area, chosen an agent and then found a house in a different area that their agent didn’t serve?

This way, you get so much more information about an area before actually looking at homes. You can choose an agent upfront—in the area you’re educated about and know you want—even eight months before you’re ready. It’s about getting people to understand our value proposition and why our agents deserve their consideration. After all, they are connecting with more than 100,000 agents.”

The Lifestyle Search Engine isn’t the first project on which Onboard and Coldwell Banker have worked together. The two companies’ history goes back a bit further…eight years, in fact.

“We’ve been using a number of Onboard’s products for some time; Onboard is great,” says Visioli. “We’ve been able to successfully marry Onboard’s data with what we have to offer and the result is a great partnership.”

For example, users can access Coldwell Banker’s property information and then also view additional information, such as demographics about the neighborhood, schools and data on home sales—all courtesy of Onboard.

“That additional information is a big help to consumers,” she says. “Adding our new Lifestyle Search to the information we already provide engages our visitors from the very beginning—more along the lines of speaking to an agent than visiting a website. Now, visitors are led down the best path from the very start and when they do converse with their agent, the conversations are targeted, allowing the home buyers to match their lifestyle to their home.”

For more information, visit www.onboardinformatics.com.

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