BUSINESS

Airbnb Wants You To Take A Test-Drive Before Buying A New Home

06/26/2015 04:07 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015
Chris Weeks via Getty Images

Before you commit to moving into a new place, why not Airbnb a nearby spot and get a feel for the area?

A partnership between Airbnb and Realtor.com will offer potential buyers the chance to crash at a new pad for a few nights to help them decide whether they want to move into that neighborhood.

When customers visit Realtor.com’s website, they’ll be able to choose the option to “Airbnb before buying.” A list of possible houses, condos, lofts and other properties in the area they’re looking at will then pop up.

Of course, you could have done this on Airbnb on your own. You could also use Airbnb in conjunction with your house-hunt on any other site or in real life. Realtor.com just adds a little more convenience by building this feature right into its search tools.

Here's what the Airbnb feature might show someone who's interested in a specific house in, say, San Jose, California:

realtor airbnb 2

The companies hope this partnership will enhance customers’ buying experience and ease their move to a new neighborhood or state. “It’s enabling them to try before they buy,” said Ryan O’Hara, CEO of Move, the parent company of Realtor.com. “We’re helping people make better choices on the biggest decision of their lives.”

Realtor.com is facing steep competition from the Zillow Group, formed when real estate website Zillow earlier this year acquired its rival Trulia for $2.5 billion. The latter two sites received 75.4 million unique visitors in March, while Realtor.com had 32.6 million unique visitors.

But Realtor.com has the backing of the News Corp media conglomerate, which bought Move in 2014. It rebranded itself after the acquisition, improving photo features and cross-promoting content from News Corp entities, such as real estate articles from the Wall Street Journal.

“We want to be really innovative and be bigger than them,” O’Hara told The Huffington Post of his competitor. The News Corp acquisition allowed Move to invest and increase traffic to its sites, O’Hara added.

And with the new Airbnb feature, Realtor.com hopes to reach a broader buyer audience that includes millennials. “Airbnb skews younger,” O’Hara said. “Millennials haven’t really stepped in to buy, but we’re seeing signals of it likely to start.”

Airbnb, which transformed the hospitality industry by opening up personal homes to tourists, is valued at $24 billion and hopes to secure a $1 billion funding round by the end of this month. It currently offers around 1.4 million listings across the world.

“We’ll be able to allow potential homeowners the special opportunity to experience those neighborhoods as if they already live there -- before making the decision to buy,” Chip Conley, head of Airbnb’s global strategy, said in a statement.

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