Integrating Homeflow Valuation

The benefits of using Homeflow Valuation as an integrated tool on your website

There are lots of “Instant Online Valuation” (IOV) tools, popping up which you can plug into your website.  Indeed we know of at least 4 good quality suppliers of these plug in tools.

However, some of the main website providers have started building their own integrated “IOV” tools – which present a number of key advantages. Homeflow are in that camp – we’ve just launched our own tool, Homeflow Valuation.

We’re perfectly happy to help you run a third party tool if that’s what you want to do – and they’re great bits of kit – there is no doubt they trap more leads.

But before you do that, we wanted to run through the main advantages of taking a properly integrated tool, embedded in the core of your website engine, rather than syphoning leads off the table into a side system, where you lose all visibility of them.

All the basics

  • Broadly speaking Homeflow Valuation does pretty much everything that the better known third party plug in tools do
  • There are perhaps some differences in the detailed implementation, though nothing material
  • These tools are all fairly basic and pretty much identical in their appearance and process flow to the end user

But beyond that basic parity – here are the advantages of using Homeflow Valuation:

Accuracy

  • We believe our core “Automated Valuation Model” (AVM) is more accurate at producing valuations in aggregate.  We can show you some comparative test graphs across 2000 properties which demonstrate that science if you care about valuation accuracy
  • But whether you care or not, is an important discussion…
  • All of these tools are very accurate, on a long terrace street, with numerous near identical houses having sold in the past year.  They all nail the value within a few percent in those cases.  But none of these tools are particularly accurate in sparsely populated or variable property stock areas anyway…
  • and accuracy isn’t really a driver of the value they present to you anyway.  That misses the point.  About 50-60% of the clients buying them understand this point, and consider that 90% of the tools value is just hooking the phone number and email of a prospect you might not have converted otherwise, through the “curiosity killed the cat” trick.  Once you have them on the blower, you can explain the limitations of an AVM, and get yourself into the living room for a “properly considered market appraisal”.
  • Our own view is that whilst it’s not the point, accuracy can only be a good thing, nobody wants to present a really duff value and being trying to climb down from it.
  • So, if it reassures you, we have statistically modelled the engine to make it more accurate than the third party tools on average.

Integrated user flow

Here’s the big one… having one tool means it is integrated right into the user / lead flow… If a user heads off your website on their way to an externally hosted tool, on a sub-domain maybe – then…

  • the website loses sight of them
  • the website doesn’t get to log them in
  • the website doesn’t get to inherit all their history (saved properties / saved searches) into their account
  • the website doesn’t get chance to integrate all that data back to your back end software via Homeflow People Exchange if you do that in the future
  • the website doesn’t get chance to push those leads into your software today, assuming you are running a software system that has that capability for your main website
  • the website doesn’t get chance to integrate reporting – so all the email leads have the same appearance / style, to your staff, and to the client as your main website leads
  • some of the third party tools now offer an “API” – an interface to pull the leads out of – (which is obviously a response to try and mitigate this huge downside vs the embedded tools as several of our website building competitors have now built fully integrated solutions)…
  • But sadly, the API the other tools offer is not a solution we support – we’ve considered it and indeed suggested it initially when these tools first started springing up – as this integration was our main beef.  Sure it would mean we could see the data, and an API is a partial solution to some of the points above, but it wouldn’t give us the lead process integrity, logging users in, allowing us the flexibility to atomise the tool (see below), allowing us control of the email templates to be consistent on brand, and allowing us to build proper lead reporting in the way we want.
  • We could do an API integration if you want it (and if you accept our core argument here, then it would be nuts to go completely unconnected), but the development involved to re-integrate it, would be more than the cost of licencing our tool in the first place.  So it would be less good, and more expensive.

Reporting integrity

  • we can’t overstress, how the centre of our entire service to you, once we are up and running, revolves around leadflow and conversion rate optimisation
  • indeed we now have our own Customer Success Team, whose sole responsibility is helping our clients optimise their lead conversion rate
  • and that service, uses both our built in lead flow analytics reporting, but also our external benchmarking tool to compare your conversion rate to the average for other agents out there
  • so, given that, you’ll see how anything which syphons the user off, out of your ecosystem, and out of reach / visibility and user integration from your main lead system, damages our ability to report and benchmark on your aggregate conversion performance.  And hence gets in the way of us providing you with the best quality service to advise you on lead generation
  • for this reason alone, we believe it becomes a complete no brainer to integrate, but there’s more…

Single customer view

  • Building on the two topics above, we’re also on a mission with you to create a “single customer view database”
  • “Mary, is Mary, is Mary”, whether she calls you, walks into branch, or comes to your website
  • We already have a challenge of 2 customer databases (arguably 3 if you run separate mailing systems)
  • And, as you have probably gathered, we’re hell bent on trying to permanently realtime sync and share user IDs, between your two main databases, in your base software, and your web system
  • If you see the value in a Single Customer View (SCV) – (a big deal in e-commerce) – then you’ll see why splintering the data piles and adding another silo, is just counter productive to the future.  Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you start a marathon!

Keep up with the fashion styles

  • If you build on our tool, then you have more design flexibility to follow the main site stylesheets
  • If you spend some design money, then you can have literally any front end you want
  • If you want a standard set up, then it looks essentially identical to the other tools out there in the market – which is perfectly fine
  • But at least our integrated product shares the same style sheets as your main website, so change font, colours, button styling, form styling etc. and the tool starts off, and stays 100% on brand

A magic little extra step – goes a long way to binding the user in

Homeflow Valuation has an extra step in the journey in which we offer the user 6 similar properties which are currently on market, and ask them to “select any which are similar”.  This is cute, as it does two things:

  • Firstly, it improves the accuracy of the valuation itself… if they have an end of terrace, and the machine estimates £180k from sold prices on terrace, then we also play some high ball properties to them to ask if they are similar.  If they select some of those, we adjust the estimate upwards from the AVM figure.  Cute, as this materially improves the accuracy and reduces disappointment or building up unrealistic expectations (as we said above, some take the view that this isn’t important, as it’s only really about getting the lead details, then catching up on the phone, others think any reduction of disappointment is a good thing).
  • Secondly, it implicitly binds the user into the valuation process – this isn’t “you guys getting the valuation wrong” (all of the tools are fairly specious in their valuation accuracy), this is “you guys AND me, (because of the selections I did, or didn’t, make) getting this wrong, I’m at fault too”.  That’s an important difference.

Flexibility to “atomise” the user flows – dissolving them throughout the site

Being on Homeflow Valuation l keeps open our ability to provide much more integrated user journey flows in the future (not currently, but very much on our roadmap):

  • Building on an integrated tool, leaves open the option to “break down”, or “atomise”, the user journey into micro components in the future, eg on Property Pages: “Do you have a house like this to sell, start here”, or embedding the first bit of the form in the homepage, or on branch pages, or next to staff profiles or whatever.
  • Or we could build it into the workflows of other leads – eg,: “Great, so you just enquired about viewing a house, you’re obviously in the mood for filling out forms today, do you happen to have a house for sale?  We already have your email, do you fancy an instant valuation now?”
  • Indeed we could, for logged in users, prepopulate the form for them, or not even ask their contact details, just let them get the valuation in a shorter process, and trigger to you the fact that one of your existing customers now wants a valuation – a real short circuit.

One supplier

  • Finally there is the simplicity of having just one supplier.
  • If you enjoy our service and relationship, then why not double it down, have one bill, be more significant a customer to us, have one set of meetings, to discuss both products performance for you, deal with it all in one customer service and customer success relationship.

More tuning flexibility

  • Then we have tuning variables, per agent, so if you want to systematically under, or over value a bit, rather than spit out the standard values that all competitors using the same third party tool, produce, you can also change the spread from low to high range too.
  • LATER:  we are working on a confidence interval (the interval is built, not the user experience depending on that interval).  The idea here is that if the tool estimates £320k, but is dead confident (an exact match on property, or lots of similar sold data in a tight area, at a tight valuation spread) then we will be able to tighten up how punchy the tool is in presenting it’s output, perhaps tighten the “range” (which is the way these tools deal with their inherent inaccuracy), or indicate confidence through language.  Or, conversely, and perhaps more importantly, when the tool knows it’s placing a blind guess (a random house, out on the moors, which hasn’t sold for 15 years, and has nothing nearby, or very variable local sold price points indicating mixed housing stock), then it can back away from making the estimate: “Sorry Mrs Smith, as you are probably aware, there is scant comparable sales data in land registry, near your property (the sold history, showing that lack of data is below, we’re genuinely stuck).  Rather than have our automated valuation engine generate a potentially very inaccurate number, we promise to get a real human being, who knows the Ilkley Moor better than a Yorkshire farmer, to come and give you a real human estimate”

Miscellaneous techy bits

  • It runs in your ROOT domain, ie as a seamless part of your main website.  No subdomains, unless you want them, but why would you?

So, what next?

Hopefully that covers the main benefits (most are available today, and certainly the essential three integration / data and reporting integrity points, some are obviously just future proofing where we want to be able to take this tool, slowly but steadily, over the coming year or two).

If you’d like to chat more about it, or want to go ahead, please do get in touch.

Simply fill in the form below to enquire about Homeflow Valuation. We’ll be in touch shortly

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