Why Neighborhoods.com is rethinking the way people look for homes

August 8, 2016

Home is where the heart is — and Bucktown-based Neighborhoods.com bets the heart is less concerned with the house of your dreams and more partial to the location, itself.

That’s why, in December of last year, the company quietly launched their website — a real estate platform that marries home listings with high-quality content about neighborhoods across the country.

“We realized that the neighborhood you live in is more important than the house you live in,” said co-founder Danny Goodman. “There was no website out there to help people learn about neighborhoods, compare neighborhoods, figure out where they want to live and learn about all the things associated with that neighborhood. So we decided to provide that to the world.”

To be sure, factors like commute time, square footage and certain amenities do come into play when people choose their new home, but Goodman said the neighborhood itself often trumps other deciding factors people face when making a final decision.

“The neighborhood that you live in — especially for people buying a home — really shapes a lot of the rest of your life: the friends you meet, the places you go eat,” Goodman said.

The site wasn’t Goodman and founder and CEO Bill Ness’ first foray into showcasing communities. Their first venture, 55places.com, is a website dedicated to helping people over 55 find active adult communities to join across the country, a site that’s still live today.

After growing that site and seeing how the community came into play for that demographic, Goodman and Ness came to a solid conclusion: there are plenty of resources for people to try and find homes, but any that focused on local communities themselves were all lackluster.

They decided to apply the same approach they took with 55places.com to the larger population.

“Why not help the other 99 percent of people looking to find a neighborhood across the country?” Goodman said.

While competitors like Zillow, Trulia, or Redfin may have a neighborhood page for certain hotspots, Goodman said they don’t offer comprehensive resources for smaller neighborhoods  — and the content they do include often lacks in either breadth or quality.

Neighborhoods.com content covers all the nooks and crannies of a particular space, from information about schools to APIs with information on coffee shops and restaurants. Many neighborhoods also have original content, with thousands of photo shoots taking place across the country in order to give people a glimpse of what living in a particular neighborhood really looks like.

Using the site is free for users, who can peruse its cyber streets as often as they’d like. They can even create accounts and get alerts for homes they’ve favorited when they go on the market or undergo price changes.

Another feature setting the site apart is that it doesn’t depend on advertising revenue — and Goodman said there’s no intent to open up those flood gates.

“We don’t want to clutter up the user experience and show people ads for unrelated products or services, but we also really want to be known as the unbiased source of information they are looking for,” he said.

Instead of charging users or bombarding them with ads, Neighborhoods.com hand-selects agents to partner with who are expert in the neighborhoods featured on the website.

Despite the site’s youth, Goodman said the team is on a trajectory of fast-paced growth. Today, the company is primarily serving the Chicagoland market but also has a presence throughout Illinois and in Florida and Texas, with several other states in the works.

“By the end of the year, you’ll see us live in California, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Jersey. We’re making quite a push to be live in another eight or nine states by then.”

Image via Neighborhoods.com

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