Trulia, the popular real estate search engine, just launched the beta of Trulia Suggests, a personalized real estate recommendation engine. The typical search experience on virtually every online real estate site involves telling the service how much you want to pay, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need and what locations you are interested in. That works, but you often end up looking at many homes that clearly don’t match what you’re looking for. Trulia’s service, on the other hand, learns from your behavior on the site and then shows you houses that it believes will match your interests.
For now, Trulia Suggests will only be available on the web, but the company plans to roll it out to its mobile apps in the future.
As Trulia’s VP of product Lee Clancy told me earlier today, he believes that adding this recommendation service will have a “transformational effect on the company.” While it won’t replace the usual search experience, he thinks this feature could become a part of the company’s other tools, including its rental business. “Personalization is not just a feature but a new product direction,” Clancy said.
Here is how it works: users seed the proprietary recommendation algorithm with a few ‘likes,’ in order to start creating their personalized profile (users can now also likes every posting on the service as well). Trulia will ask new users to sign up for the service after this in order to track their behavior on the site. After reviewing a few more homes, the service will start showing a selection of houses that should match your interests under the Trulia Suggests tab.
You can, of course, also ‘hide’ homes you don’t like in order to tell the algorithm when a place doesn’t match your preferences. For now, Clancy told me, this feature only hides homes in Trulia Suggests, but they will still appear in your regular search results. Once Suggests comes out of beta, hiding a house will also remove it from your search results.
The algorithm looks at the kind of houses you like, hide and look at on the site and automatically tunes its recommendations in real time according to your preferences, including how much you seem to be willing to pay for a house, location and other details.
A feature like this, Clancy argued, is especially important in today’s real estate market. With only a few houses available for sale and high demand from buyers, Trulia Suggests allows the company “to expose consumers to properties they might not have otherwise looked at.”