Facebook Marketplace expands into home services

Facebook is entering the home services market. Starting today, U.S. Facebook users browsing the Facebook Marketplace will be able to search thousands of home service professionals through a new feature that helps users locate top-rated and vetted professionals like house cleaners, plumbers, contractors, and others, as well as receive quotes.

The services experience will show up on Facebook’s Marketplace, but is populated with data from Facebook’s partners on this effort: Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch.

The company says the idea to launch a home services resource came about because people were always asking for recommendations for home pros on the network.

In fact, the number of people asking for home service recommendations in the U.S. is already well into the millions for the year, Facebook notes.

“More people ask for recommendations related to home services on Facebook in the U.S. than any other topic,” said Bowen Pan, Product Manager at Facebook, in a statement about the launch. “By partnering with Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch, people will now have a place on Marketplace to find the right professional to help with their next home project,” he said.

Through its partners, Facebook is able to provide access to hundreds of thousands of professionals, while also allowing users to see the professionals’ ratings, reviews, credentials, and location. Users can additionally request a quote right on the social networking site itself by describing their project, and sending it out to multiple professionals at once. The home service pros who respond can then communicate with the customer through Messenger to follow up on the lead.

The feature itself offers more than just a bunch of listings for users to sort through.

Instead, the main “Marketplace Services” page in Marketplace organizes pros into categories based around tasks, like “deep clean your home” or “get your backyard summer ready,” for example.

When users click on one of the prompts, they’re walked through a form to fill out other relevant data in order to find matching home pros. In the case of house cleaning, to continue the above example, a user would say how often they want a cleaning, how many bedrooms, the home’s square feet, and when they want the cleaning, along with other details. From the search results, they can then read all the service pro profiles and click a “Send” button to share their project request with those they choose. The service pro who follows up will respond on Messenger.

This is similar to what happens on Facebook today, though not in an organized a fashion. If you participate in any local group, you know it’s crammed with recommendation requests from other users – often the same request, repeatedly entered by different people at different times. (As no one ever thinks to use the Facebook Group’s search feature!).

The addition of home services to Marketplace may at least shift some of those inquires over to Marketplace. (Not all, though – personal recommendations from neighbors and friends will still be highly desired, even if pre-vetted home pro listings are available.)

The new offering is one of several category expansions for the Facebook Marketplace which is becoming one of the more viable challengers to Craigslist, thanks to other recent additions like home rentals and cars. And like those earlier expansions, Facebook pursued a similar strategy of working with partners to bring in these new listings.

Facebook, however, is not the only major tech company dabbling with home services.

Amazon expanded into this category several years ago, Walmart recently partnered with Handy on this front, and Google is also working with both HomeAdvisor and Porch in order connect its voice assistant users with home pros nearby.

But this is not the first time Facebook has taken aim at the home services market, either – back in December 2015, the company launched a local business search site at facebook.com/services which let users look for local businesses and organizations that met their needs, including across home services. This site was still live as of yesterday, but it never really took off or was known to most Facebook users. It seemed to be more of an experiment on Facebook’s part, and was focused on surfacing businesses with Facebook Pages – not a true home services destination. (It will now be sunsetted.)

The new effort involving third-party data from partners means home pros may start finding more of their leads come from Facebook. And as result, they may feel compelled to set up a Facebook Page if they haven’t already.

We’ve asked Facebook for further details as to if or how it’s sharing revenue from bookings with its partners, but the company declined to comment prior to publication.

As of last year, Marketplace had been growing at a rate of 18 million new listings per month. And search volume had increased threefold as of last October. Today, more than 800 million people use Marketplace each month to buy or sell across the 71 countries where it’s live, including 1 out of 3 U.S. Facebook users.

Facebook says the new feature is rolling out today, and will become available to all U.S. users in the weeks ahead in the Facebook app.

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Update, 5/23/18, evening

Here’s more information Facebook shared with us after the deadline:

Home pros aren’t charged by Facebook to participate on the new experience, but they have to be signed up with Handy, HomeAdvisor or Porch to post listings. The partners will work with their customers on educating them about the new feature, so they understand how to use Facebook for leads.
Facebook is not earning revenue on services booked through Marketplace, nor is it paying to license the partner data.