Domain recently announced a new search feature on their website that allows property seekers to search for property via school catchment areas. Does this new feature by Domain represent a shift in relation to how real estate portals are thinking of search and moving away from suburb search across to more lifestyle like search features?
I’ve long held the view that real estate search in Australian is broken. What I mean by this is, the way the large portals allow property seekers to search for property hasn’t evolved too far beyond what they offered property seekers 19 years ago. As per the screenshot of the REA homepage in February 2000, property search was based around a geographic base ie State and then Suburb.
If you compare this to the search bar on REA today, you’ll see it is very much the same with suburb, region, state, postcode still the primary search mechanism.
Now Domain’s new catchment search feature adds a new dimension to the traditional search function. It allows you to to start your search journey with an “interest item” rather than a suburb, region, state or postcode.
This feature by Domain is new in the search bar but the resulting catchment pages, have been on Domain for at least 6 months. I know in my area of the Northern Beaches, leasing or purchasing homes in certain school catchment areas are in high demand. For example, a lot of parents across the Northern Beaches push to live in the catchment areas for Curl Curl Public School or Collaroy Plateau Schools. So this new tool is very useful to myself and my cohort of other parents.
I’m impressed with Domain in relation to incorporating this feature into the predictive search bar. It really makes redundant the geographic search linked to a suburb. However, I’d like to see Domain and other portals evolve this further and create a multi-tiered “Lifestyle Search”. This is something my web development company Agentpoint pitched to an international real estate portal we were consulting to back in 2017. It went something like this;
Rather than searching by suburb, give property seekers the option to search by “Lifestyle Features”, allowing consumers to select an unlimited number of criteria in relation to the distance of the property from these lifestyle features.For example, a consumer could have selected a number of options like the below.
- Within 45 minutes peak public transport of the Sydney CBD
- Within 15 minutes walk to a beach
- Within 10 minutes drive to a Westfield shopping centre
- Within 10 minutes walk to a local shops and cafes
- Within 15 minutes walk to a dog park
- Within 2kms of a childcare facility
- Within 5 minutes cycle to a secondary public school
The Lifestyle search algorithm would then calculate all the routes available and display all the properties on a map which meet that criteria. Those properties which are currently on the market for sale or lease would be highlighted. While for the off-market listings, consumers can choose to subscribe to property alerts so they are automatically notified when any of these listings hit the market.
Just think, if you lived in sydney and selected the above criteria, you in theory could be shown properties located all the way up the coastline from Southerland/Cronulla, the Eastern Suburbs, up to the Northern Beaches.
Lifestyle search has the ability to evolve and modernise the property buying experience as it reduces the amount of research property seekers must do in regard to local facilities and features in the areas they are choosing to live or invest.