Searching for a home but limited to only criterion like price, size and location? That’s so 2019. A real estate platform that recently launched in Chicago has reimagined the home search process, using data and technology to offer unique insights into neighborhoods, blocks and even buildings for both renters and buyers alike.
Originally founded in New York in 2017, Localize.city allows users to search for homes by what’s important to them – everything from which schools are in that zone to nearby dog parks, neighborhood crime rates to how much natural sunlight the home gets.
“People have been finding homes online for 10 years, and we just thought that there was a better way,” said Andrew Kalish, who runs all U.S. industry relations and business development for the site. “Our value proposition is that homebuyers can search by their core needs. You have young kids and you want to search for a home close to a park? We can tell you that. Or you need to take the train to work? We’ll find you listings close to an ‘L’ stop. The home search experience isn’t just about price and location. We are actually recommending what we think is the best place for you.”
After a user types in his or her preferences on the site, listings and the match percentages are shown. Then, a simple click into the listing is all it takes to see what it’s actually like to live there, thanks to the site’s team of over 150 data scientists, cartographers, and Chicago-based urban planners who created what they refer to as an AI-based “insights engine.” Designed with the Chicago market in mind, the platform offers the kind of information buyers usually discover only after they’ve moved in.
Kalish points out why he and his team chose to specifically launch in the Chicagoland market after successfully doing so in New York.
“We always had Chicago on our sights,” Kalish explained. “It’s an iconic world-class city; it’s no second city. It’s a city that embraces urbanism. This is a major market, and there’s an incredible amount of development downtown as well. Chicago has also been great about open data.”
Flagging things like nearby pedestrian accident hot spots, flight paths, deferred maintenance issues as well as nearby and upcoming construction projects, Localize also offers insights into landlords, tenants, neighbors, noise and even smells, not to mention what’s available down the block.
That kind of information is valuable for real estate agents, said Baird & Warner Senior Vice President of Sales Tripti Kasal. “They just have great data,” she told Chicago Agent. “If I’m a Realtor showing a buyer a certain building and there are rumors about construction, they can go to Localize and see what’s being said and where that data came from. Even as an agent, I would go there and look that up.”
Besides offering data that agents can share with their clients, the platform is committed to working in collaboration with them, according to Kalish.
“We make it really, really, really easy for a consumer or home hunter to get in touch with the person representing that property,” he said. “The only agent that appears on a [Localize.city] listing is the listing agent itself. Our goal is to get the customer to the home as soon as possible. We believe we can be both an agent-friendly site and consumer-friendly site at the same time. We add so much more transparency to the process.”
That transparency was a component of what attracted Kasal to utilize Localize.city. While the information on the platform is free, agents also can create a customized page with photos, bios, videos and direct contact forms at no cost.
“A lot of these sites leave agents out, but I see it differently,” Kasal said. “If I’m working with a buyer, and they say they want to be by a park, I can show them the listing on Localize, and they can see where the park is. It gives them so much more insight into the neighborhood. It’s just a great tool that buyers can use and then agents can work with them, hand-in-hand.
It just does a nice job of helping buyers, and then sellers to educate buyers hyper locally about what’s going on in the city. Some sites are looking to replace agents, but they want to work alongside us. I was so excited to jump onboard.”