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HouseFix, The Carfax For Homes, Closes Up Shop

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After a year of plugging away, HouseFix, a startup that launched a year ago at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco with the goal of becoming the Carfax for your home, has decided to close shop and has pulled down its website. The site now links to RedBeacon.

According to the message currently posted on its homepage, HouseFix was unable to “attract a large enough user base to complete [its] vision” and has decided to pursue other directions. We’ve reached out to the founders, whom we profiled a year ago, to learn more about their decision and find out what lies ahead.

The Pennsylvania-based startup aimed to bring social recommendations to the home-repair industry in an effort to give homeowners a directory of contractors and repair professionals that included reviews and profiles. In turn, the site aimed to give these contractors a web presence, bringing them online and offering them tools to help track their projects.

HouseFix had a tough uphill battle, however, thanks to well-established competition from the likes of ServiceMagic and Angie’s List, to name just two. The startup attempted to differentiate itself by adding trust to homeowners’ transactions with home-repair businesses by creating a social context by which people could find peer reviews, i.e. recommendations they could trust, knowing they came from their neighbors. It’s a model being pursued by many web businesses, especially in the travel and vacation spaces.

While HouseFix wasn’t completely alone in offering recommendations for the industry, it was operating on new ground with its tracking mechanism for repairs — the feature that earned it the “Carfax of home repair” moniker. This functionality seemed to have great potential were it to be acquired by Zillow or RedBeacon or some other homes-listing site that includes home values.

This would have allowed users to view home-repair histories when searching for new houses — something they could view during the search before buying to get a sense of whether or not homes were valued fairly. This could have brought some much-needed transparency to the home-buying process, but it seems that it may have been too complex and thorny for HouseFix to maneuver through the inherent legal issues and real estate industry friction on its own.

We’ll update when we learn more. For now, HouseFix’s goodbye message is included below in full.

Here’s the response we received from HouseFix President & CEO Adrian Talapan:

The market landscape has changed dramatically since HouseFix was first launched in 2010. There are more competitors with deeper pockets and the consumer is less likely to try new platforms given the bloat of software on the Web. The contractor side of the business has also become more fragmented in these short years. Despite that, HouseFix was able to acquire a national database of more than 150,000 contractors, but our ultimate challenge was scaling the user base. The cost-per-acquisition was too high and, for HouseFix to have continued, we would have needed more capital infusion. But we appreciate all of the support we got from our community, and are considering what to do from here.