And now we have a Tinder for home-buying

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on April 2, 2014

From The News Desk

These days the startup pitch trend is to say you offer either the "Uber of" or "Tinder of" something. For the former that means your business is on-demand and accessed through an app. I've seen it applied to storage, prescription drug-getting, jet-flying, even pizza-buying.

For the latter -- the "Tinder of" approach -- a mobile app is also involved, but its aim is to make a decision usually requiring a great amount of thought into a mindless, easy motion that facilitates a binary "hot-or-not" proclamation. Today we see another example of this with the launch of Doorsteps Swipe, which is basically the Tinder of home-buying.

I am always reluctant to use such comparisons because they are generally not descriptive of the app's function and are more marketing ploys for companies to piggy-back off of others' success. But in Doorsteps Swipe's case, it really is the Tinder of home-buying. The app quite simply lets you swipe left or right on pictures of homes that are for sale. If you swipe left, it means you don't like it. If you swipe right, the listing gets added to a log of future listings in which you may be interested.

Doorsteps CEO Michele Serro explained that the intent of this app isn't really to make a portal to buy homes via mobile devices, but instead to get the ball moving for people who are just beginning to think about purchasing a house. "How do you take someone who's curious about buying a home and make them more confident?" she asked.

This question surrounds the entire Doorsteps program. Founded in 2012, provided a straightforward website catered to first-time home buyers in an attempt to demystify the process. "The core of our offering is really centered around education," Serro explained. It included quizzes, long-form content, and infographics.

About a year ago Doorsteps was acquired by Move Inc., the company behind, and has left Doorsteps as is ever since. In Serro's eyes this acquisition is perfect for what she wants to do with Doorsteps. For one, it gives her company access to hundreds of thousands of listing nationwide. Most of all, it takes away the startup pains of figuring out a monetization plan.

Move Inc., according to Serro, is content having Doorstep do its thing and launch its own free app that isn't necessarily catered at selling homes right now. The company makes money through and other real estate programs -- Doorsteps is just a way to get the company into the hands of younger people.

That's the real intent with Doorsteps, according to Serro: to attract young people to catch the home-buying bug. "The Doorsteps app is a little bit of a gateway drug," she said. "People are curious about the home-buying process, but they don't feel like they're ready to get pre-approved."

There's also a data component to it: The app builds profiles of who uses it. "We learning a little bit more about what you like and what you don't like," Serro explained. This makes it easier for Doorsteps to recommend potential listings, and it also gives Move a bunch of user metrics about location and demographics it wouldn't otherwise have.

This data collection component depends on millions of people downloading the app, which is no easy feat. But given the smartphone proclivities of the Millennials, I wouldn't be surprised if people took to Doorsteps. If hundreds of hours of subway-riding time is spent saying yea or nay to faces, why not to homes?

[Image via Taylor White]