Hoodline, a neighborhood news publisher based in San Francisco, recently took the plunge into the world of real estate technology. The hyper-local news company, which publishes around 20 stories a day ranging from new restaurant openings to condo developments in the various San Francisco neighborhoods, released it's Neighborhood Kits. The Neighborhood Kit is a new technology that uses Hoodline's hyper-local content to provide up-to-date neighborhood news & information to local Realtor websites. Hoodline offers this new technology in the form of a widget that can be embedded on the website of a Realtor for $100/year (pricing for real estate firms is more but varies depending on usage, customization, etc.)
If you're a Realtor, you might be asking yourself: "Why is this valuable to me and my website?"
To answer that, we first have to answer another question: "How does Hoodline produce this constantly updated, neighborhood specific news?"
The answer is Hoodbot, a web-scraping technology developed by the Hoodline team. Hoodbot scrapes local neighborhood information & updates from various sources like state & county websites to sniff out relevant local happenings, such as newly issued liquor licenses, business permits & police reports. In addition to Hoodbot, Hoodline employs 6 staff writers & 60 freelance writers throughout the city. Finally, Hoodline works with a large tipster community of over 1,500 people who feed the staff tips & intel on the latest happenings in the 40 neighborhoods covered by Hoodline. These 3 sources converge to provide Hoodline readers with always fresh, news & content specific to the reader's own neighborhood.
Now back to the original question "Why is this valuable to me and my website?"
The simple answer is that the neighborhood information on your website, no matter how good or well-written it is, is likely static. Even if you do your best to keep your ear to the ground and regularly update the local neighborhood section of your website, you likely can't keep pace with Hood-bot, & the 60+ writers at Hoodline working to fill your clients in on the hot new restaurants & community events going on in the neighborhood they're perusing.
I had an opportunity to speak with Jes Wolfe, COO at Hoodline, and she summed up the benefit of the Neighborhood Kits quite well: "The Realtor's job is to make their client fall in love with a home, it's our job to make them fall in love with a neighborhood."
Jes mentioned that they've received a good response since launching the new product. Hoodline has had dozens of agents and some firms sign up to use the Neighborhood Kits on their websites. Like any savvy start-up, they're taking the feedback from these agents to heart. With version 2 of the Neighborhood Kits Hoodline plans to include "What To Do" video segments for neighborhoods as well as some more customization options.
Now if you think the Neighborhood kit sounds appealing but you're a Realtor located outside the San Francisco area, don't fret. According to Jes, Hoodline is planning to expand their Neighborhood Kits to other areas in due time, starting with Oakland & then branching out to other major cities.
Jes also noted that they have more real estate products coming down their pipeline, one of which commercial real estate brokers & CRE tech fans will find particularly interesting.
As a lover of real estate tech as well as branding & company culture, I had one particular question on my mind that I had to ask Jes:
Q: "Now that Hoodline has entered the world of real estate, do you consider it more of a news company or a real estate tech company? Will Hoodline have an identity crisis of sorts?
A: "Ultimately what we want to be is a local-focused company. Tech has always been at our core and will continue to drive what we do, as has the editorial leg of the company.
Feel free to comment with your thoughts or opinions on this new product!