Zillow Group's platform Trulia has launched a bot which uses Facebook Messenger to find rental listings, see nearby information and get daily updates on new rentals.
"The chat bot revolution that took Asia by storm with platforms like WeChat has finally hit the US," says Trulia Rentals Senior Product Manager Gaurav Hardikar.
"Thanks to Messenger, consumers can chat online, text, call, video call, and even pay for transactions and services, all in one platform.
According to Hardikar, there are 1 billion Facebook Messenger users worldwide each month.
"Our goal at Trulia is to make it easy and enjoyable for anyone to find their next home, we’re excited to announce today a Trulia bot for Messenger."
Hardikar says the Trulia bot is designed to give consumers daily updates on rental listings that match their criteria.
As consumers launch the Trulia bot for Messenger, they are able to search for properties in any location with basic commands, such as 'For Rent in San Francisco'. They can also search for specifics and use shorthands, like 'two bed, two bath for rent in SF'.
The Trulia bot returns a list of 10 current properties and gives consumers the option to subscribe to daily updates on listings that match their search criteria.
Subscribing to daily updates means consumers get 10 new listings each day.
"Updates are sent at the same time every day, and because we don’t want disturb anyone’s R&R, the updates are sent at 9 am local time (we figure most people are up by then!)," Hardikar says.
"Messenger offers multiple controls for consumers who use it, and consumers can always opt out of the updates, or change their criteria by typing another location and other feature requirements to the bot."
With each property listing, consumers have the option to view the property on Trulia’s mobile website, or get a quick summary within Messenger itself.
If a consumer opts for the summary, they are shown high-level details of the property, including the address, neighborhood summary, price, number of beds and baths, and a photo gallery.
Consumers can also ask the Trulia bot for a property’s local information, which will show them crime stats and interesting demographic details, like median age, number of people who are single and married in the area, and how many homes in the neighborhood are renter-occupied or owner-occupied.
At any point in the experience, consumers can venture out of their current search by typing another location to the bot, or simply typing, “Stop.”
While the Trulia bot only supports rentals searches, Hardikar adds the company sees potential in bringing "real estate search to consumers’ fingertips, no matter what platform they’re on".