Almost every single property hunter would like to see travel time included in their property search experience. Yet just 3% provide some level of time-based search on the portal.
That’s what Property Portal Watch and Online Marketplaces revealed in the bi-annual Portal Standards Report in at the end of 2023.
Drawing upon data from over 700 property portals worldwide, the report paints a vivid picture of the real estate portal industry, highlighting a stark contrast in the quality and features of websites across different markets, and the disparity between user experience and technological adoption globally.
It highlights how the industry is failing to meet increasing user demand for more a personalised, interactive and informative experience.
But it’s not all bad. This inconsistency between user expectation and property portal UX underscores a significant opportunity for growth in the industry – the opportunity for property portals to find their competitive advantage with time-based property search.
In this piece, we will dispel the myths around time-based search adoption so you can take the steps towards change with confidence.
3 myths of time-based search in your property portal
The integration of travel time into property search experiences is a game-changer in the real estate industry. Yet, despite its benefits, misconceptions still exist about incorporating time-based search, filtering, and discovery into property portals.
Myth 1: “It’s not a necessary investment”
Many believe that traditional distance metrics are sufficient for property searches. We get it – your property is working just fine as it is and your agents are kept happy. However, this perspective overlooks a crucial aspect: practicality and relevance for the property hunter.
Relevance over distance
While distance provides a static measurement, travel time data reflects real-world conditions. It accounts for varying landscapes and transport options, offering a more accurate and personalised insight for property hunters.
Compared to a typical mile or kilometre radius search, TravelTime API ensures the properties you display 100% relevant, and results are displayed 4x faster than Google.
Thinking in time
People naturally plan their life around time, not distance. TravelTime's research indicates that a staggering 78% of property hunters find travel times more helpful than distances, and 94% believe that time-based search results are important when looking for a property.
It’s time to give users what they need when searching for somewhere to live.
According to Zoopla's 2023 research, one in five property hunters are uncertain about where to live.
Time-based search can significantly reduce this uncertainty by providing clear, practical information about commute times to key locations or points of interest such as accessibility to schools, a place of work, family, friends, green spaces, and more.
Outpace the competition
Today, many property portals are designed to keep real estate agents happy and ensure they pay for featured listings. But by doing so, many portals neglect the other key party in this equation – the property hunter.
“It turns out,” the report states, “that the big deciding factor [in displaying property locations] is whether a country's real estate market operates with exclusive sales mandates,” rather than focusing on what best suits the property hunter. It goes on: “Not sharing the exact location in that case is the main insurance for the agent in order to protect his piece of the pie.”
Not only does this deliver a poor UX, but an agent-led approach that is designed to protect commission also exposes portals to the risk of a competitor entering the market and being more consumer focused. When that competitor is potentially a giant like Google, better meeting user expectations certainly feels worth the investment.
Myth 2: “It’s expensive”
The perceived high cost of integrating travel time data is a common deterrent. However, the return on investment (ROI) and the TravelTime pricing model make it a financially sound choice that helps you reimagine the possibilities of property search.
Zoopla's experience is a testament to the value of travel time data. By incorporating the TravelTime API and time-based search feature, they experienced a threefold increase in their conversion rate. Imagine the potential impact that could have on your portal's performance and revenue.
Cost-effective pricing model
TravelTime offers a unique pricing structure with unlimited API usage each month for a fixed price. This model provides scalability and predictability in costs, unlike traditional per-element or per-request pricing models.
Compared to other commute time data and distance matrix providers TravelTime is better priced, every single time.
Myth 3: “We already have a map – we don’t need journey times too”
While maps are a step forward in enhancing the user experience, they don't fully address the needs of users, especially those exploring new areas. They’re complex, abstract and don’t contribute to improved search relevancy.
Accessibility over location
Maps show where a property is but not how accessible it is. Journey time data adds a layer of practicality, showing how easily users can reach important personalised destinations from a potential home.
Journey times in the list view
Traditional maps can be overwhelming with numerous pins and markers. In contrast, fully integrated travel time data provides clear, concise information directly on each property listing views, making the search process more streamlined and user-friendly.
It’s clarity on real-world accessibility – not the chaos of multiple pins on a map.
Recently, TravelTime CEO and Co-founder, called for search portals to ditch the map in his GeoSearch Optimisation newsletter. Check it out.
So why integrate journey time data into your property portal?
Integrating travel time data into property portals is not just about keeping up with industry trends; it's about revolutionising the user experience.
From enhancing area discovery to refining search results and personalising notifications, TravelTime's API offers a comprehensive solution. The demand from users is evident, and the opportunity to turn this feature into a competitive advantage is immense.
Now is the time to embrace this innovation. Don't let myths hold you back from elevating your property portal.