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New: A better way to search the NWMLS

Posted on Jun 2, 2008

Pickett Street Property Search Map

I just returned from a trip to my hometown, Miles City, Montana. A friend of the family’s had just made an offer on a home, which they had come across thanks to the ability of their agent. In Miles City there is no MLS as we know it, no catalogue of listings, either bound or online. There are only a few websites with listing information, and these are not comprehensive. Things truly are done more word of mouth around here, which means that if a consumer wants information on a home for sale, going online isn’t going to help them.

This obviously isn’t the case for us in the Puget Sound. Not only can we not find a single-family residence on four city lots for $92,000 (as my family friend did), but new listing information is available on several thousand websites. Since most of the general information is the same on all of these sites, the real issue involves usability: which site is the most intuitive? The least invasive? The most informative? The fastest?

Which brings us to After months of comprehensive searching , we came across the holy grail in the property search engine realm. The solution we had found spent years incubating in California, where agent and consumer feedback had evolved the technology to a form well beyond anything we had seen in the Northwest. When we came across them they were in the process of coding their tool for use in our local NWMLS, with aspirations to roll out at the first of 2008.

We also began to make preparations. As badly as we wanted this technology, we couldn’t use it without our broker’s involvement, and it was about four times more expensive than their current, but inept, search property tool. Without our broker’s blessing, we had to decide how important this tool really was for us – securing the search tool would mean that we would have to leave our brokerage. There was the cost of the technology alone, never mind the additional expense of all the new signs, business cards, and other marketing materials already developed.

Like any good committee, the Pickett Street Team members spent some time in “analysis paralysis.” Cost vs Reward ratios were speculated, redacted, and redrawn on almost a daily basis. In the end, and perhaps on a caffeine high, we decided that we are responsible for our own success, and those that fail to adapt are bound to fail. So adapt we did.

We left our brokerage and signed on with Keller Williams Realty in Bothell, where they encouraged us to spearhead the transition to the new property search tool. The new Pickett Street Property Search is now up and running, and we’re winning advocates every week. The new search engine not only allows visitors to conduct map-based searches, but it also allows you to enter in your search criteria and save the search. The search engine will then email you new listings that match your search as they come on the market – no more sorting through a few hundred listings that you’ve already seen to try to find your elusive dream home that just came on the market today. The new tool also loads on one page, so even if you do have a slower internet connection you aren’t going to be brewing a new pot of coffee while the results load on the next page. Visitors also have the ability to view larger, multiple pictures of each listing, which load in a slideshow upon selection.

Curious about the neighborhood you’re shopping? Our mapping tool will give you neighborhood statistics – from average size of home listed for sale, average size of lot listed for sale, to population density and the crime index for the area. If you happen across a listing that you might want to look at again, you can save the listing as a “Favorite”, and it will be available to you on your next visit to our website. And perhaps one of the more advanced features of the site allows you to chat with one of us at the click of a button, allowing you to have almost immediate answers to any questions you might have about a listing.

There are many more features that we encourage you to uncover on your own. What we want you to know is that we’re adapting and advancing for the benefit of our clients. Try out our new Pickett Street Property Search tool to look for your next home, to keep tabs on your own neighborhood, or just to see what we’re up to. In the meantime, tell all of your friends that there’s a new Search Tool in town! If you need an opening, tell them they could buy a home on four city lots for $92,000 in Miles City, MT. Opportunities like these exist in every market – just makes it easier to find them.

Click HERE to check out the new property search for yourself.

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