Now that we’ve reached the one month point of our beta test, I wanted to give you an update on how that’s going and what new stuff we are working on in our office.
In general, the beta test has gone better than expected. We now have over 150 beta users, and we’ve had relatively few bugs. The system has stayed up and stable, has been fast, and we’ve been able to push new code to it nearly every day. I’d say we’re ahead of schedule in that regard. We’re working toward a general release at the Inman Connect show in New York on January 6th. If you find any issues with the system, please e-mail email@example.com so we can address them ASAP. My thanks to all of you who have taken the time to send reports – we couldn’t do all this without your help. Thanks also for the great ideas, blog posts, and tweets – keep them coming!
One topic of concern that’s come up repeatedly is the privacy of the bookmarks. The concern seems to revolve around the claim that if you bookmark a home on which you are intent on making offer, that somehow the seller or another buyer can use that information to gain some kind of advantage. In the current beta version of the site, every bookmark is public – we did this for testing purposes, to ensure that we had access to every bookmark to check for problems. Already built into the site, but hidden from view, is a simple checkbox that makes a bookmark private. The checkbox is accessible both when you create the bookmark and when you edit the bookmark, so the privacy of a bookmark can be updated by the user over time. We intend to make that checkbox visible in the next couple of weeks. A private bookmark means that it’s only visible to that user, only visible when they are logged in, and does not appear on the home page – either the Recent bookmarks or Recent price changes tabs. We hope that this feature alleviates any of those concerns.
While the testing has been rolling along, we have been working to implement the Pro version of Dwellicious. This version is designed to re-engage real estate agents and brokers with their online buyers and sellers. We know that 84% of buyers now search for homes on the internet, we know that they are using many different sites in their searching, and we know that they often do not contact a professional until they are well down the path of finding their new home. The Pro version of Dwellicious allows the professional to engage with and add value to their clients online search and to do that earlier in the process.
Pro version feature summary:
– Pro can invite their clients to join their Dwellicious network. This is free to the client and the clients get all the same features as regular consumers who sign up on their own. The e-mail invite that goes to clients has the Pro’s branding and a description of this new service to help them organize, share, and discuss their search for real estate.
– Pro’s entire Dwellicious network sees a private branded version of the Dwellicious home page with the professionals name, photo, and contact info – a “business card”. This branding is continued on each page of the site. Contact info for internet touch points – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, web site, etc – are emphasized.
– Pro has a new “My Dashboard” function which shows any public bookmarks created by members of their network, any public comments, and any updates to the bookmarks or the listings. You can see a list of the clients in your network and invite new clients. You can easily comment on the bookmarks your clients are creating to add value to their search with your local expertise – “That one’s going to need a new roof in the next two years”, “That one has a problem with the foundation”, or “We should go see this one this weekend”.
– Pro’s can insert new bookmarks into the bookmark stream of their clients. An example of this would be reviewing the bookmarks your client is making, then bookmarking similar listings one neighborhood over and including notes – “This neighborhood has better schools” or “This area has more square feet for your dollar”.
– Regular consumer users who have bookmarked a bunch of listings and who don’t already have an agent can ‘Find An Agent’ by searching for Dwellicious Pro users to work with.
– We are working with a new phone service API by Twilio to provide toll free direct dial access to voice descriptions of your active listings, with call transfer to the Pro’s phone for follow up and full caller id tracking on your dashboard – something you can use on your sign riders and marketing materials.
What else would you like to see us work on?