By Paige Tepping
At one point or another, we’ve all had to search for a place to live. Whether a new job has you moving across state lines or you simply need a change of scenery, looking for a home to purchase—or even a space to rent—can be a huge undertaking for everyone involved. From scoping out the perfect neighborhood to ensuring the area is safe for you and your family, the variables involved in the home-buying process are plentiful. And that’s before we even take into consideration the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage and price. While these aspects may have sealed or broken many a deal in the past, today’s consumer is far more interested in purchasing a lifestyle than getting caught up on the physical attributes of a home.
And Pleasanton, California-based RentalRoost—along with its sister sites GrayRoost and Houserie—is changing the game by taking a big data approach to the real estate process, providing consumers with the information they need to find a home that truly matches their lifestyle.
Born from a personal need, the idea behind RentalRoost is simple: to pull data together in a form that is easy to read and understand so that instead of wading through a huge pool of data, consumers can search for a property based on the things that matter most to them. For GrayRoost CEO Vik Raghavan, RentalRoost CEO Nitin Shingate, and RentalRoost COO Harini Venkatesan, being charged with the responsibility of finding the perfect home for themselves and their families to enjoy was all the motivation they needed to sit down and brainstorm a better approach.
And from there, at the end of 2011, RentalRoost—an online rental marketplace—and Houserie, an online tenant rental screening service, were born. Fast forward two years, and the concept for GrayRoost—the company’s technology-focused, customer-centric real estate brokerage, available only in California for the time being—was beginning to take shape. “The fact that all three of us ran into the same challenges when looking for the perfect place to call home when going through an out-of-state relocation—on more than one occasion—made it very clear that this type of experience was typical,” says Venkatesan.
Starting with the same lifestyle-based search foundation, consumers can rest assured that RentalRoost, GrayRoost and Houserie have their real estate needs covered—from renter all the way to homeowner. “At some point, we all start out as renters,” says Venkatesan, “and by utilizing the same search criteria across each site, renters and buyers can zero in on exactly what they’re looking for in both a property and neighborhood, making the entire process seamless, easy and fun.”
Bypassing the traditional search criteria that only takes number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and specific region into consideration, searching for a property based on specific aspects of your lifestyle enables you to drill even deeper. “We provide renters and buyers with lifestyle scores for a neighborhood based on our proprietary algorithms,” says Shingate. “Users can search for neighborhoods based on the importance of scores such as walkability, kid-friendliness, pet-friendliness, school rating, proximity to public transportation, shopping, fine dining, and arts and culture. This way users will be able to find the neighborhood that best fits their lifestyle.”
A simple tweak of various criteria provides a first-hand glimpse into different areas and neighborhoods that may not have been considered from the get-go. “Not only do we differentiate ourselves through our search functionality, we place a huge emphasis on the fact that each agent who is part of the team is not only an expert in the properties available, they also know the neighborhoods inside and out,” adds Venkatesan. “By taking things one step further and promoting actual neighborhoods through all of our sites, we’re able to promote a sense of community. If people find a neighborhood that suits them, they’re more likely to go out and be part of the community by purchasing locally in the shops around them or exploring arts and entertainment.”
As the big data concept continues to pick up steam, keeping up with today’s consumer is more important than ever. And integrating social media into the mix is one way the company is making the real estate process more engaging. “Based on Facebook and Google+ data, we can recommend certain neighborhoods or properties that would be a good fit. For example, if we see that you’ve posted 50 pictures of your new dog over the last two days, chances are that you’re a pet person who would really enjoy living in a pet-friendly property,” says Raghavan. “We’re also helping house hunters find neighborhood recommendations from people they’re connected with and where they’re now living, or have previously lived.”
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