By Ian McKendry
In a world where social networking lets people connect from nearly anywhere, one Internet company is trying to connect the people that live right next door to each other. Nextdoor is a young private social network that connects people to their neighbors – and only their neighbors.
While you can only join your own neighborhood – and Nexdoor verifies everyone’s address by sending a postcard to the home address with a code on it, requesting a call from a listed phone number, or making a one-time $0.01 credit card charge to confirm the billing address – this site could be of future use to agents.
The website is a forum for neighbors to communicate, build a sense of community and share neighborly things, such as reporting a suspicious person, recommending a handy man or organizing a block party. The homepage is similar to a Facebook profile with members able share posts on a neighborhood wall, create groups and comment on other posts. It also has a recommendations page which lets members recommend businesses and service providers and is organized similar to a Craigslist homepage.
With a targeted, localized audience, the forum seems ideal for real estate agents to prospect for clients, keep up with the neighborhood (projects, renovations and various issues) and get to know the nuances of a neighborhood that a Google search couldn’t tell you.
A spokesperson for Nextdoor said a number of real estate agents have joined the network but added that for the time being, they will only be able to connect with the people in the neighborhood they live in. But this could change – the company says that while it is focusing on building an audience and improving the product, its revenue model will eventually depend on special offerings from local businesses, meaning this could be another good website for agents to advertise new listings to a very targeted audience.
The service is free for people who live in one of the 3,700 communities over 48 states covered, but again, people can only join the neighborhood network they live in.
The company recently got the nod of support from private equity financiers, having received $18.6 million in funding from Benchmark Capital, DAV Ventures, Greylock Partners and Shasta Ventures.
The financiers seem excited about the project with Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital saying in statement “we continue to be blown away by the response to Nextdoor from neighbors across the country,” and David Sze of Greylock Partner, saying “Facebook is the best way to connect to friends and family, and LinkedIn is the best way to connect to business contacts — now Nextdoor has created the best way to connect to neighbors.”
While agents can only use this site in a very limited way for now, they may want to keep tabs on this fast-growing, private social network.