Better Homes and Gardens launched a ‘lifestyle’ search on their website (http://www.bhgrealestate.com/) that is one of the best implementations that I’ve ever seen. Congratulations to them and to Onboard Informatics (http://www.onboardinformatics.com/) which provides the data that drives the feature.
To view the search, visit the third menu row on the home page and select “Find a Community”. First, putting it there was brilliant. For most people, moving 5 miles or less and not needing lifestyle search, putting it there keeps it out of the way of the primary search interface. Could it be easier to get back to the Community search once one goes down the “Find a Home” path? Sure, but that’s a quibble.
The lifestyle / community search is well designed – focusing on key lifestyle features. Unlike lesser implementations of lifestyle search, there’s no need for the consumer to dig through less used criteria, such as how far they want to be from an ATM (yes, believe it or not, I’ve seen that…). And for me, the proof was in the pudding. When I ran the search, it returned neighborhoods that Iknow meet my lifestyle needs as the top ranked neighborhoods, with less ideal matches ranked lower. Could there be an easier way to see how these ranked neighborhoods meet and/or don’t meet my criteria? Sure. Might “family friendly” tread close to a scary Fair Housing issue if not unpacked? And while it’s a single click to view homes in any comunity you are presented with, it would have been ideal to ‘check off’ a few communities that were best matches and see a unified result set of listings in all of those communities. I’m also hopeful that over time, community information is better integrated into the individual listing reports. Again, these are minor quibbles.
Overall, this is easily the best implemented lifestyle search to date. Kudos to Better Homes and Gardens and Onboard Informatics!
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