Has rental property finder Lovely succeeded where other web services have failed, in establishing an agreement with Craigslist to use its data?
Following months of legal wranglings over third-party use of its listings, it seems Craigslist might be mellowing after agreeing to let Lovely access its information to provide a raft of realtor services to its users.
The Lovely site itself is based on a map system and aggregates data from a long list of sources, including Craigslist, in order to provide the most comprehensive service possible to its users. The recent national launch of Lovely follows a soft launch in late 2011 in San Francisco and other places where over 100K people access the site’s services regularly. This number of regular visitors, coupled with around $2 million in seed funding clearly show that confidence in Lovely’s offer exists.
Aggregating Data from Top Sources
The team at Lovely are remaining tight-lipped on who is supplying their data, but big players including apartments.com and regional brokers such as VLSHomes are on the list, which is currently 12 long but growing all the time.
Craigslist is perhaps though, the supplier with the highest profile and the one with the track record of throwing its toys out of the pram when its data is used without permission. With this in mind, Lovely really needs to keep a close eye on how it manages its aggregated data. Currently Lovely accesses CL information using 3Taps and states that 3Taps provides around a third of all listings on Lovely, with this number expected to go down to a quarter in the coming weeks.
Lovely – Borne From a Lack of Interactivity on CL
Blake Pierson, Lovely’s co-founder says that just like PadMapper, Lovely was established to answer the lack of interaction within CL listings and to provide users with more a more intuitive, interesting experience.
In order to meet this demand, Lovely presents apartment-seekers with what they call a ‘rental resume’ which allows them to contact landlords straight from the site and real-time availability — visitors can also set email alerts based on specific locations – even by street name.
However, despite this level of innovation, Lovely will not be resting on its laurels as Pierson explains:
We’d be silly not to consider Craigslist a threat,” he said. “They have a ton of money and a ton of users. You don’t become a product company overnight, however, so we have that on our side.” Pierson also believes that while Lovely can focus all of its energies on rentals, CL has dozens of other verticals to manage. “Finally, we’re obsessed with data and using technology to better understand that data. I’m not sure that’s the business they consider themselves in.”
Using Data to Provide the Best Service Possible
Indeed, Lovely prides itself on how it uses data – devising algorithms to sort information and delete duplicates from its many suppliers and it’s even looking into providing an innovative visual search function. The company also takes a considered, market-by-market approach to data collation. For example issues with information in New York or Boston, where the market is controlled by brokers are different to those in California, where brokers don’t have a hand in the process.
Primarily Pierson wants to provide a great front-end service by using data correctly in the back and provide the most accurate data for its users.