Open Listings rethinks real estate

Mar 05, 2018

Open Listings is targeting tech-savvy homebuyers with a “you find the home, you keep the savings” model. Users can find a property on their website or app (or any other listing site) and buy it directly through Open Listings, as opposed to a real estate agent. Open Listings receives the entire buyers agent’s commission (typically 2.5% or 3% of the purchase price) and refunds the homebuyer 50%.

Because real estate is all about location, Open Listings wanted to customize the map experience to drive user engagement.

I can’t stress it enough. People spend more time onsite; end up visiting more properties per visit; they are more likely to schedule a tour; they engage further with the product which gets them more bought in if they have the context of where things are and what’s nearby. Maps are a crucial function of the business. -Kevin Miller, Director of Growth
Hovering over a map icon while scrolling property images reveals a map

Currently, Open Listings supports two states, California and Washington. With just two states, they’re indexing over 5 million web pages from over ten different brokerage search engines. As the business grows — potentially indexing hundreds of millions of pages — they realized they need a scalable map solution, both in terms of price and performance.

Google became cost prohibitive. The customer service experience was poor. It really was surprising. Our engineers felt Mapbox was incredibly developer friendly and great for integration. Maps are a major function of pages on our website so the performance and customization and how much dev time it would take are what weighed that decision.

And the switch went well:

It took one developer about three weeks to get feature parity with our old maps. Support has been really easy to get ahold of when we run into snags. -Peter Sugihara, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer
The newly designed desktop experience

Open Listings uses GL JS, our web API, and our Maps SDKs for Mobile to customize the presentation of map data, build in interactivity, and render vector maps on the client at 60 frames-per-second (the speed of a video game). The design team used Studio, our visual design suite, to tailor the map style to the experience.

Mapbox enabled us to customize the map design for different contexts. The default map styles provide rich interactions that help users shop for homes, where it’s crucial to understand how close a property is to schools, highways, public transportation, shops, and the like. But it was also important for us to communicate sales volume by region. In this context, it’s less about understanding the exact location of a single property and more about understanding the market at a high level.
We used Studio to design a more elegant, understated map so that the markers stood out more than the specifics of the geography. We went through countless pin designs with Google Maps, and the end result was either ugly or ineffective. Once we switched to Mapbox, it was clear that the solution was to be able to customize the map, not the pins. -Monica Kogler, Design Director
Clustering by zoom level makes it easier to explore thousands of property listings at once

In the near term, Open Listings is planning to use our Geocoding API for address search on web and mobile so users can search for properties near a specific business or location. Also on the roadmap is incorporating directions and traffic data on the maps, showing commuting distances and times, as well as routes to local points-of-interest.

Mapbox offers us an incredible level of map detail and customization that we couldn’t find with other providers. It’s the kind of tech we want to align with because it gives us the flexibility to build a unique and personalized product. -Kevin Miller, Director of Growth

Learn more about using our tools for real estate or reach out to our team with any questions. If you’re in the market for a home, check out Open Listings.