When selling or buying a house, working with a trusted, certified broker or agent is extremely important. Generally you find trusted real estate agents through word of mouth, whether that be through a neighbor, friend or contact. But as more and more consumers look online to find and sell listings, sourcing personal recommendations can be challenging. Real estate search engine Trulia is adding new social functionality that aims to replicate word-of-mouth referrals for brokers and professionals in the real estate industry.
Trulia Social Search essentially brings the verbal endorsement of a preferred agent to Trulia and Facebook, helping consumers discover trusted real estate professionals by searching their Facebook social network for agents and brokers their family, friends and acquaintances recommend. Basically the feature allows consumers to recommend their agent on Trulia and Facebook simultaneously.
These agent endorsements then help build a personalized list of recommended agents for fellow consumer as they search Trulia’s Find a Pro directory. When a user searches and logs in with Facebook, they will see any agents who their friends or friend of friends recommend as well as highly recommended agents in the Trulia community.
Recommendations are also published to the agent’s Trulia profile, consumer’s Facebook profiles and their friend’s Facebook News Feeds. On an agent’s page, you’ll be able to see if he or she is recommended by friends, family or a client. Agents can also request recommendations from friends and clients via Trulia.
Trulia says that while some of its competitors (i.e. Zillow) already have ratings for agents and brokers, the company is trying to add a social component to recommendations that creates a greater sense of trust between the client and agent. Plus, Trulia believes that recommendations need to go beyond a star rating, and should include relationship to the the broker/agent, and detail on the interactions (i.e. sold a house, time period, professional manner).
Of course, Trulia’s future is in the spotlight because of the recent IPO of one of its main competitors, Zillow. An an IPO is definitely on the horizon, the company tells us. Trulia, which is profitable, has only raised $32.8 million in funding (by contrast Zillow raised $87 million). Last year, the company acquired geodata startup Movity, and traffic has been steadily growing since last year. In June 2011, Trulia saw 9.1 million unique vistors compared to 5.4 million unique visitors in June 2010, according to comScore.