HouseFix.com, an online social networking community for homeowners and contractors, debuted recently to mixed reviews. The site offers peer recommendations for the home repair industry and launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield (TCDB), a premier conference for startup companies. Housefix offers a unique home repair tracking service that has left speculative Realtors wondering whether the potential benefits for homebuyers and contractors outweigh the costs for agents and Realtors.
HouseFix is similar to sites like ServiceMagic and Angie’s List in that it offers members the ability to read and write reviews for contractors in the home repair business. Members would be able to find a contractor, with contextual reviews, in minutes rather than hours. Likewise, contractors with good reviews would be placed in a network that directly allows agents to refer clients to them. HouseFix moreover seeks to offer a home repair tracking service that would list events of a home’s history and general facts, to be made available to potential buyers.
What makes HouseFix truly unique, and controversial, is its potential for growth. If acquired by a company that has the ability to expand HouseFix features, such as Zillow or Realtor.com, the home repair tracking service could be enhanced and made similar to a CarFax report. A report like this would list all updates, repairs and renovations a house has undergone, and be made available to potential homebuyers before a purchase is made. While this would give homebuyers a greater degree of certainty in making a purchase, it spells out a great deal of trouble for real estate agents.
Lani Rosales, editor-in-chief of AgentGenius, wrote in an earlier article of the CarFax-like option, “not only would the concept be extremely disruptive (which always means a wave of press), but would add transparency to any transaction. It would be complicated, full of legal liabilities, and a hairy mess for the real estate industry.
While HouseFix’s social networking service has the potential to increase business for agents and contractors with good reviews, the home repair tracking mechanism presents a challenge to agents’ businesses by drawing out sales and negotiation lengths. The latter, however, proves only to be problematic if HouseFix is absorbed by a company that has the capability to increase the efficiency and magnitude of existing HouseFix services.