Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social media platform, is betting on real estate listings as the next step in its business.
The Facebook-like website and mobile application launched a home-listing section Tuesday in Los Angeles and nine other cities that it hopes will be a hit with advertisers.
The 5-year-old website lets users choose a neighborhood, where they can sell things, talk about lost pets, discuss issues like noise disturbances and suspicious people seen on their block and connect with neighbors they would not normally meet. Users are required to use their real names and addresses.
Real estate stories and listings are already popular on the platform, said Ali Jafari, a vice president at Nextdoor, making it a natural next step in its business. He said referrals from users for real estate agents can be a way for agents to build their brand and get clients.
"We are able to leverage recommendations and neighborhood conversations to help real estate agents or local businesses get customers," Jafari said.
The new real estate section features local and nearby home listings (populated by Realtor.com and others) and a "neighborhood sponsor" that is a local real estate agent occupying the right corner of the screen.
Jafari said the company would not release revenue expectations for the real estate venture but was "very happy about the amount of demand we've seen from real estate agents."
Nextdoor already has advertisements, meaning sponsored content from real estate agents may not be an issue for long-time users.
"In general, when advertising has been introduced to any service that has never had it before, there is always some type of backlash in the beginning," said Brian Blau, a social media analyst with Gartner. "But that backlash is usually short-lived and only from a minority of the users."
Blau said the challenge for Nextdoor is that there is plenty of websites for potential home buyers to search. However, he noted, advertisements on Nextdoor could be more targeted if that is what an agent wants.
Real estate agents are already using the website, latching onto "local pages" that area businesses can claim and maintain. Real estate agents have claimed about 24,000 local pages nationwide — more than any other business. Pet sitters rank No. 2, with roughly 10,000 pages.
The users of Nextdoor would seem to represent an affluent demographic for any advertiser. The company said average household income for its users is $100,000, 60% are women and 72% are homeowners.
Nextdoor is valued at $1.1 billion, with lead investors including Insight Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures and Redpoint. The other markets getting a real estate section on the website Tuesday are Sacramento; San Diego; the San Francisco Bay area; Phoenix; Atlanta; Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore.
Molnar writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.