Natural Language: Search The Way You Speak

When a prospective homebuyer arrives at your website, they already know what they want. They have a mental image of their dream home, and they want to get started finding it. We haven’t (yet) built software that can read users’ minds, so we need to give them a way to communicate that dream home to your website so that it can show them what’s available. Traditionally, websites give the user a form to fill out, offering an overwhelming multitude of options. Nobody likes to fill out forms. When you visit your doctor, being handed a clipboard with five pages of blanks to fill in and checkboxes to check is always a bummer–you want to get to the part where the doctor gives you the information you came for. Traditional real estate search forms are the “waiting room clipboard” of property search.

Traditional Listings Search Form


Your users don’t want to spend time filling out forms. They want to look at properties! At Union Street Media, we want to encourage users to start exploring properties as simply and quickly as possible. This is why we created our natural language property search.

Natural Language Listings Search


Ask a prospective homebuyer to tell you what kind of home they’re looking for. Do they carefully list out every parameter they can think of, saying something like “Property type is residential. List price is under $250,000. Bedrooms is 3 to 4. Acreage is more than 1”? Stilted language like that is unnatural and doesn’t match how people think or talk about real estate, but it’s what traditional search forms ask for. In a real conversation, you’re more likely to hear them say things like:

  • “A 3-bedroom house in Burlington for less than $400,000.”
  • “An inexpensive condo in Boston or Chatham.”
  • “A home on at least 2 acres with a garden.”
  • “A Victorian lakefront home with a porch.”

Phrases like these are the natural language of real estate. They’re the way people talk about the properties they want. Search engines like Google and Bing understood this long ago, and now when you visit them, you’re given a single text input into which you type your search. We’ve leveraged our deep understanding of real estate data to make it possible for users to search for properties on your site using this familiar method. Give it a try on one of these sites and we think you’ll agree that it’s a far simpler and friendlier way to begin your property search process. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this revolutionary new tool, it’s available now as part of Compass, our new property search and exploration tool.