Real Estate Envy

Open to Upselling? RealDirect Has the Interface for You

The online brokerage makes the leap from listings to buyers.

image001 Open to Upselling? RealDirect Has the Interface for YouSo you’ve somehow scraped up the cash and decided to shell out for a Manhattan apartment, but that’s about all you’re 100 percent committed to. “Well, I like the Upper West Side, but there are those two super noisy blocks and I guess I like Inwood but maybe not the part of Washington Heights with all the stairs,” you may say. Well, New York-based online real estate brokerage RealDirect has launched a new offering for buyers, and they’ve built in a fair amount of flexibility for you vacillators.

The map-based interface lets users draw a “lasso” around the general area where they’d like to look. And it doesn’t simply present every relevant listing matching a set description. Instead, results are presented as a varied series of icons, designed to signal how well a listing matches to the search criteria. So if that perfect 3-bedroom is just a touch more than you’d like, you’ll still see it. Just in case. CEO Doug Perlson told Betabeat that he saw it as “a golden opportunity for us to introduce the concept of relevancy ranking and relevancy scoring to real estate search.”

The company launched last year with just an offering targeted toward those selling their homes, but planning all the while to expand to buyers. For one thing, CEO Doug Perlson explained to Betabeat, the new interface is also a way to collect additional data they need to power their platform for sellers. “We need to see how people are actually searching for properties, and so, in order to do that, we knew we needed to have people searching on our site for properties,” Mr. Perlson said.

There’s also the glaring fact that buying is “half of the real estate transaction, and we want to offer a full service opportunity.” Mr. Perlson said, “If we are working with sellers that are ultimately buying something else, we want to be able to expand the relationship to what their needs are.” Fair enough.

The mapped-out results will look awfully familiar to anyone who knows the addictive power of Zillow, for example. But Mr. Perlson rejects the comparison and does not consider them competition: “They’re media businesses, they sell advertising.” RealDirect works like any other broker, taking a cut of every transaction. Mr. Perlson therefore points to other brokers instead, all while insisting the company’s technology-based approach is more efficient.

For those intrigued enough to try playing with the interface, Betabeat recommends emotionally preparing yourself for Manhattan’s sky-high prices. Because yikes.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com