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RISMEDIA, March 24, 2011—The other day I got a flustered phone call from a friend. In between curses and huffs about never dating again, she wanted to know why everyone in the New York singles scene is all over the place. For better or worse, the reality is that living in a city of 8 million makes for no shortage of options. I provided what probably wasn’t the best analogy for an exasperated friend living fifteen floors up.

“People are fickle. They aren’t getting everything they want in one place, so they are transient.”

“Well, I don’t know…”

“Listen, if you want bánh xèo and Ben and Jerry’s delivered at 3:00 in the morning, you’re in the right place. But don’t expect all that in one call.”

Something similar is happening in the home-search process. And frustrations are growing.

The WAV Group published a white paper that proves all of this.

“The real estate consumer has a dizzying array of websites that provide them with access to real estate listings. […] When they follow the link to obtain ‘more details’ they find themselves in a totally different website with a totally different interface, and perhaps different pricing on the subject property. Brokers and franchisors need to be mindful of this if they want the consumer to make their website the primary site for obtaining their real estate information. Professional real estate websites are losing the battle for consumers online.”

Besides the issues with third-party sites, it’s clear that lasting marriages between the brand and the consumer are few and far between.

You can get great photos in one place, but school content is out of the question. You will see local businesses and proximity search here, reviews and ratings over there, and accurate home values with confidence scores somewhere else entirely. It’s no wonder today’s real estate consumer has become the flakey date who never returns your calls. We have been forcing them to jump around from place to place to find what they need.

Meanwhile, the purveyors of fairly inconsequential “purchase decisions” —think Netflix or Pandora—that we consume without much thought have found a way to meet personal needs that many people didn’t even realize they had.

Consumers who are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives expect the same level of understanding from their providers. There’s a lot in store for you if you answer the call.

Implementing lifestyle-based neighborhood searches alongside of other content has mutual benefits. This process can be as comprehensive as you want it to be if you’re developing it yourself with a tool like Onboard’s Lifestyle Search Engine API. Or, if you want a quick plug-and-play tool without the hassle, it can be kept clean and simple with our new Lifestyle Search Widget.

The best websites understand the reciprocal benefit, and have the insight on their visitors to back it up. And as a consumer, the more I interact with the recommendation engine, the more I get in return. How’s that for brand loyalty?

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