Orchard, formerly Perch, is sprinting towards its goal of having a fully integrated home buying and selling platform, from title and mortgage services to its tech-focused real estate brokerage to a consumer search portal. They company has many plates spinning at once, one could say.
Today, Orchard is announcing new features for its home search portal in the form of Home Match and Photo Switch.
Home Match gives users the chance to specify the degree of their preferences to filter search results down to the stuff they really want. For example, users can choose between “Not Important,” “Nice to Have” and “Very Important” for features like a Kitchen Island, a pool in the backyard, high ceilings and many other features of a home.
Most home search portals ask about what you want in a binary way — either you want a pool or you don’t. They don’t take into account that yes, you want a pool, but it’s not nearly as important as having stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.
“Our view is that search is nowhere near a solved problem in the real estate space,” said Court Cunningham, CEO and founder of Orchard. “The insight is that when you watch people search, they look at every home coming on the market and when you ask why they aren’t using filters, they say they don’t want to miss anything. So we put some gradation on that search filter to give users much more relevant results and save them time.”
Alongside Home Match, Orchard is also introducing Photo Switch, a smaller feature but a vastly more technical tool to build.
Photo Switch allows users to choose the lead image on any home listing to see the part of the house they’re most interested in. For example, folks whose priority is a back yard can see pics of the back yard as they browse through listings. Same for the kitchen, the master bedroom, the front yard and the living room.
Again, this allows users to make their own choices about their priorities and save time by focusing on those priorities as they search.
Cunningham says that the new features, which have been in beta for several weeks, are deepening engagement on listings, with more people clicking through listing pages and details instead of shuffling around the top-level search results.
Orchard focuses on dual-trackers, or people who are both selling a home and buying a new one at the same time. This situation, which is very common among home buyers, usually forces those buyers to either take on a huge financial risk by buying a new home before they’ve sold their last home, or to place an offer on their new home contingent on the sale of their old home, which is unattractive to most sellers.
Orchard solves this by making an offer on buyers’ old houses that is guaranteed for 90 days. In January, Cunningham said that more than 85% of those homes sell at a market price before the 90-day period.
Orchard also offers a title business, letting buyers close the transaction via their phone from the comfort of their home, with plans to go live with mortgage services in the near future.
The company has raised a total of $86 million in equity financing, from investors like FirstMark Capital, Navitas, and Juxtapose, with another $200 million in debt financing.