Know Thy Neighbor: Try a Lifestyle Search When Shopping for a Home

Services for Real Estate Pros with AOL Real Estate

The New York Times recently published an article about the rise in the offering of lifestyle searches as they relate to real estate.  If you're wondering what a "lifestyle search" is, you aren't alone.  It's hardly the mainstream way in which people today search for their next home.  Still, it's an interesting proposition, and one that's gaining steam in the online real estate industry.

Lifestyle searching provides individuals and families the opportunity to search for a new home or community based based on different criteria - not square footage or number of bedrooms - instead, criteria that can be explored by searching  the demographics of potential neighbors, amenities of the community, interests of potential neighbors in a given area, and more.

The lifestyle search is particularly appealing to people who are looking to relocate to areas in which they aren't able to readily drive through a neighborhood to get a feel for it.

''People are more likely to compromise on the attributes of the home than they are to compromise on the attributes of a community,'' said Scott Petronis, director of product management for Onboard Informatics, based in New York (as quoted in the NYT).

Another player in the space is Andrew Schiller's  NeighborhoodScout allows you to match a community in one area to a similar community in another area.  For example, say I love Georgetown in DC.  If I'm moving to Nashville, TN, it will recommend a similar community for me to consider.  (And for those who are curious, the top result is the Bible College/End Ave area.)  Pretty cool right?  At a minimum, it gives me a good place to start my search (for both a house and a realtor). 

You have to admit, this lifestyle approach does add some color and confidence to an otherwise daunting (and let's face it, intimidating) search process.

But that's just my opinion.  What do you think?

Comments (21)

Aaron Vaughn 830-358-0455
Conifer Builders LLC - Canyon Lake, TX

This does sound like a great idea.

Thanks, Kendra.

Feb 26, 2010 11:16 AM
Sherry Lee Cox
Platinum Properties - Paso Robles, CA

Lifestyle searches make total sense to me...  Thanks for the website recommendation!


Feb 26, 2010 11:20 AM
Megan Izdebska & Hanna Manoufar Chandler, Scottsdale Real Estate Agent
United Brokers Group - Chandler, AZ
Double Commitment. Double Results.

Kendra - the "lifestyle search" sounds interesting. I think that would be a very helpful tool for all relocating buyers.

Feb 26, 2010 11:46 AM
Michael Bergin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - ABR - SRES - Alexandria, VA
Northern Virginia Real Estate

When you consider that buying a house is one of the biggest - and most expensive  - decisions in a lifetime this makes perfiect sense.  Kind of like the E Harmony of real estate!


Feb 26, 2010 11:47 AM
Howard and Susan Meyers
The Hudson Company Winnetka and North Shore - Winnetka, IL

We like the concept but when you peel away the skin on, it worries us a bit.  The criteria they use to rate schools is a bit suspect and their lists of "safest" and "most dangerous" cities is not a "source" that we would like to be the "source of".  The match a community concept is actually somewhat interesting, but if you look a bit closer you find that it is actually a hook to get you (the potential client) to sign up with their relocation referral service.  When you read the fine print you find that is actually a subsidiary of Location, Inc. which is a referral firm which gives rebates to customers who sign up with them.  I guess there's no such thing as a free lunch. 

Feb 26, 2010 11:52 AM
Lia Gerke
Inspire Realty - Saratoga Springs, UT

Hi Kendra

I agree and I think that many first time home buyers are definitely looking for the lifestyle more than ever before.

Feb 26, 2010 11:56 AM
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Hi Kendra! That is VERY interesting! In Maryland, we as REALTORS are not legally allowed to provide this kind of info, but I could send them to this site and that would be so helpful, I am sure! Thanks for the info!

Feb 26, 2010 12:09 PM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Oddly enough, I was talking about this with David Carroll of softRealty (a free IDX provider) and Rob Hahn (Notorious R O B) last year at REtechSouth.  After the speaker's dinner there were a LOT of cool conversations going on...  The concept is pretty cool. 

Feb 26, 2010 12:13 PM
Donna Galinsky
Allen Tate Company - Cornelius, NC
Make Lake Norman Your Home!

That is a very interesting idea. We are not allowed to provide that info, but it is a site I will definitely make available.

Thanks for sharing

Feb 26, 2010 12:14 PM
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

I think Active Adult communities for those ages 55+ offers are so popular because they offer a lifestyle as well as a maintenance free home.  It makes a lot of sense to me.


Feb 26, 2010 12:30 PM
Julie Anne

Great site.  How many times have we had conversations with people and they say they love their neighborhood and spend alot of time with their neighbors or don't because they feel they don't fit in?  This would help.

Feb 26, 2010 12:54 PM
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Kendra, what an interesting and unique post.  Thanks for sharing the links with us.  I think lifestyle searches make ultimate sense.  After all, how many 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath houses can you look at before they all blur together?

Feb 26, 2010 03:10 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I can see how this might be interesting to some buyers, especially those who are moving from other areas.  However, depending upon the criteria used, could it not violate certain Fair Housing rules?

Feb 26, 2010 03:48 PM
C. Bartch
Newark, OH

Kendra I really this concept, it can sure help out when having to move to area you've never been. I've bookmarked the site.

Feb 27, 2010 12:41 AM
Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR
Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA - Dalton, GA

I hadn't seen NeighborhoodScout before, but when I checked out my own community it was pretty scary -- didn't realize the crime rate was so high! Overall, it doesn't present this area in a very good light, so I guess I won't be able to sell this area using that as a tool!!!

Feb 27, 2010 12:48 AM
Evelyn Zebro
Beverly-Hanks & Associates - Asheville, NC
Asheville NC Real Estate Broker

I personally ask folks how they want to live when they come to Asheville NC.  Do you want to be close to shopping, minutes from downtown, live near parks and playgrounds and close to school, more natural environment, etc.  The kind of home IS important, but really, we're living with neighbors (or not) who certainly add to our life "style".

Feb 27, 2010 01:51 AM
Regina Brassil
True Sarasota Real Estate - Siesta Key, FL
ABR, AHWD, e-Pro

I am a bit surprised people have NOT been doing this...I recently worked with a customer who is an artist and wanted to be in Sarasota because of the thriving arts community...but was not told by her previous realtor that there were entire neighborhoods where homes, galleries and studios exist side by side on beautiful cobblestone streets...go figure. More business for me.

Feb 27, 2010 02:00 AM
Arthur Chapman
William Raveis - Newport, RI

Great idea!  I just signed our office up!

Plus the company is in our little state of RI..very cool!

Thanks for the info!


Feb 27, 2010 04:52 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

I think this is a brilliant idea!    Certainly is a superb beginning to a process...sq. footage can come later.

Mar 03, 2010 05:07 AM
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Hi Kendra- I know you wote this awhile back, I think it really is a buisness model who's time has come. Well done.

Oct 10, 2012 02:49 AM