The Ultimate Real Estate Portal

Real Estate Technology with Zillow
No, I’m not going to give you a magic link that will lead you to the ultimate real estate portal. I would gladly give you that link if I had it, but it doesn’t exist.

Matt asked a question of the AR community — “If you were going to create the ultimate informational real estate portal for consumers (buyers and sellers), what would it include?”

I thought that was a great question. It’s one I’ve been pondering since went on line almost two years ago.

So what do I think the ultimate portal would contain?

Info. And tons of it. Info to the point that I don't know if a nationally scoped site could pull it off. But equally as important as the info contained, is the ability of the user to access it.

There's lots of great "box talk" in the blog Matt posted. Be sure to check it out.

Below are some of the thoughts and opinions I just posted on The Phoenix Real Estate Guy. I had to save a little bit of uniqueness for the "The PREG" (and I wish I had a different acronym for my other blog...) 

What information would the ultimate real estate portal include? 

  • Listings; with lots of photos. Sure there are tons of sites out there where people can view listings. But listings are what most real estate site visitors want to see, so my ultimate portal has to include them. No registration for this would be my choice. There are too many Trulia’s out there that don’t require it, as well as individuals sites. The ultimate real estate information portal must be a free source of information.
  • Home Evaluations/Valuations. Yeah, there’s Zillow. But automated valuation methods (AVMs) frequently can’t “see” many things. “Unzillowable” factors mean that at least for now, consumers need a way to request a valuation from an agent. Some AVMs proclaim their “proprietary methods” can encompass anything. Don’t be so sure.
  • Easy automated listings. In the Phoenix market, like many others, the number of listings is climbing steadily. Consumers need a way to get automated listing updates.
  • Map based listings searchas an option. Some LOVE map based searches. Some loathe them. The ideal solution would provide both a map based search as well as the more traditional by location/size/style/ammenities searches. The best map based search I’ve run across yet is from Windemere 
  • A community events calendar, that could be updated by users. I just recently found, and implemented one of their calendars on my site. A user updated calendar would be ideal, though how you’d keep the nimrod spammers off it, I don’t know.
  • School information is critical. Boundary maps, testing scores, etc are all something real estate site surfers like to find.
  • Crime statistics. Yes, there are a gazillion places to find crime stats on the net. But having a nifty zip code and/or map based search of state and fed stats would be very cool.
  • Demographic and economic statistics. Not just the standard age/gender/race/population type stuff. I want detailed demographics and economic data including current and historical trends for things like housing starts, home sale prices, employment/unemployment, etc.
  • City level legal info. Easy access to city ordinances, zoning codes, building codes and permitting processes and forms.
  • Neighborhood level legal info. A repository of Home Owners Association CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions — “the rules”) would be incredibly handy.
  • City and neighborhood amenity info. This encompasses a LOT. Information on Parks & Recreation, children’s activities, churches and synagogues, swimming pools, libraries, sporting facilities, restaurants, shopping and other commercial operations–the list is lengthy, but you get the point.

As important as the information would be, how that information is accessed would be almost equally important. A portal type site needs an intuitive search capability. Extensive and deep cross-linking would be important, as well as having multiple sources for information. I don’t want to see test scores just from the school district. I want to see independent confirmation that those test scores are correct.

User interaction would be a key component to a great real estate portal. A blog is an obvious step in the direction given its ability to take user comments. A web based FAQ or Wiki is another avenue that allows a website user to interact with the webmaster and other users. But blog’s, FAQs and wiki’s are half-duplex communication systems–interaction can happen, but only one direction at a time. Full-duplex communication (think telephone) would be the ideal situation, but short of VoIP, I know of no current Internet based full-duplex system. Maybe that’s part of what is in store for us once we get past Web 2.0 and head to Web 3.0?

Thoughts and opinions are of course welcome!

Comments (19)

Ray Saenz
Exit Realty Laredo - Laredo, TX
Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor


Great Blog

Ray Saenz

Oct 04, 2006 08:48 PM
Boomer Jack Boardman & Carl McIntyre, the Codgers
Noted Curmudgeons - Saint Paul, MN
I am not a REALTOR, but I am an enthusiastic researcher in another discipline, and have noted the vast expansion of single-source high-quality information in the past few years. The "Ultimate Real Estate Portal" is a grand idea, the devil's in the details.
Oct 04, 2006 09:25 PM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
Let's also add the human element - for each neighborhood have comments about what the current owners like about the area and don't like, same with their comments about the overall community and surrounding areas.
Oct 04, 2006 11:59 PM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time
Jay good stuff. I've been thinking about this too but not being very much of a techie I have been strugling with any new ideas. The one thing I do know is I like simple. I love Google. I like being able to find what I want with just a click or two. And I never give out my info on the web. If I have to register, I'm out of there. And I truly hate pop ups! When it comes to listings I like pictures but do not like virtual tours at all. Too time consuming. I like a quick, informative and easy experience. 
Oct 05, 2006 12:43 AM
Timothy Butterworth
Taking a break - Portland, OR
Great blog Jay, I have been trying to put together My own site that is detailed oriented and fast for the consumers to go through. I have to get it approved first since I work under Oregon Realtys' name, but that is ok.
Oct 05, 2006 05:02 AM
Mark Wojewnik
Equity Source Home Loans, LLC - New Port Richey, FL
That's a great idea Jay!  I will be checking back on your profile & blogs for updates with the "Ultimate Real Estate Portal."
Oct 05, 2006 06:17 AM
Jacqulyn Richey
Prominent Realty Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate
Jay, to keep the spammers at bay, you'd need to have the program automatically strip out any html formatting, require registration to a valid email account (mail the password there) as well as have a "adult" filter scan any posts first before they go live, to weed out any ads for adult products or services.  Even then, you'd still have to moderate, but that would keep out the majority of the spammers out there. -Charles
Oct 05, 2006 09:19 AM
Derek and Mariana Wagner
The Artisan Group- Keller Williams Premier Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
The Artisan Group - Colorado Springs REALTORS®
great blog ... a city "video tour" would be great also.
Oct 05, 2006 01:49 PM
Jay Thompson
Zillow - Seattle, WA

Human element, city video tours, I like that stuff.... I tend to find home virtual tours kinda irritating, but a video tour of a neighborhood/city is a different animal.

Charles - no kidding about the "adult" filter. My "other" blog gets hit with 100 - 200 comment spams a day. At least half attempt to promote some porn site.  Thank goodness for some great WordPress "spam killer" plug ins.   

Oct 05, 2006 04:17 PM
Ira Freireich
Best Buyer's Broker Realty - Valley Stream, NY
Thanks for all the great ideas.
Oct 05, 2006 04:39 PM
Home Design
Alpharetta, GA
Home Design and Real Estate

City video tours are pretty cool, some are kind of corny, but they do show the viewer some things pictures can't.

Woodstock Real Estate

Oct 06, 2006 07:25 AM
Mary McKnight
Sacrilicious Marketing - Orlando, FL
As a programmer- I would love to take up this challenge!  
Oct 12, 2006 12:09 AM
Von Do
Tuscany Realty - San Jose, CA


Hands down, great blog and information.

Thanks Jay

Oct 16, 2006 01:01 PM
Kerri Brencsons
Lift Interiors LLC - Scotch Plains, NJ
Ive always wanted access to a map based search. This all sounds like good stuff.
Oct 17, 2006 02:12 AM
Kerri Brencsons
Lift Interiors LLC - Scotch Plains, NJ
Ive always wanted access to a map based search. This all sounds like good stuff.
Oct 17, 2006 02:12 AM
Colleen Irwin
Retired - Irondequoit, NY
Creative Real Estate Solutions...
Great BLOG, I would like to see video tours or visual tours....   I am sure that many of us would be happy to provide content....  Neighborhood specific information -- for instance on Marco there are distinct area and each are unique...   Like is it gated, is there a community center, pool, etc...
Oct 17, 2006 10:06 AM
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge
What a great business opportunity-to take these ideas and launch a new business.
Oct 19, 2006 02:25 AM
Linda Davis
RE/MAX Home Team - Gales Ferry, CT
I'm a little late to this one but great blog!   I've bookmarked it and gave you 5 stars!
Oct 30, 2006 12:17 PM
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty, Inc - Arlington, VA
33 years of providing fully satisfying service!


Great effort and very informative. I regularly wrestle with the different notions of what people want and, what last portal item is going to bring them into my camp for services. No one can offer it all. Some sites that are very popular offer less than half on the list of "must have" consumer interest items. The search continues. 

Nov 03, 2006 01:05 PM