OpenHouse Lands $13.5M in Quest to Redesign Home Searches

Mazen Fawaz, OpenHouse CEO 
OpenHouse

Online real-estate search is getting a social era makeover.

OpenHouse Realty Inc., a real-estate agent recommendation service, is tapping into social data that it mingles with demographic information in an effort to serve up more insights into neighborhoods for people searching for homes.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based OpenHouse aims to make home searches more like browsing Airbnb or Facebook , bringing large images and personalized content to real-estate searches.

OpenHouse extracts information from images in the multiple listing service. The company uses its own image recognition and data extraction technology to get details from photos associated with home listings. It also uses geo-tagged images from Instagram as well as geo-tagged Twitter feeds to provide more local information around property searches.

While the number of people who offer such metadata in social posts is a small percentage, the concept promises unusual insights, albeit limited, into lives and interests of people in neighborhoods.

The company also fuses U.S. Census Bureau and Nielsen data into a picture of neighborhoods. All of the data options combined allow OpenHouse users to see what people watch on TV, what they read, what kind of car they drive, what their income level is and many other clues about neighbors. By design, the company has melded the voyeuristic world of social media with real-estate searches.

Investors see an opportunity: OpenHouse has picked up $13.5 million in Series A funding, The Wall Street Journal has learned. The funding was led by Triangle Peak Partners and March Capital Partners and had participation from undisclosed investors.

The startup is competing in a crowded category of real-estate search incumbents including Zillow, Trulia and Redfin.

Formerly known as Agent Ace, OpenHouse was founded by Mazen Fawaz.

OpenHouse uses historic home sales data to match potential home buyers and sellers with the most experienced real-estate agents for the specific home and area, the company said.

“If you’re looking for a house, we’ll calculate the best agent,” said Mr. Fawaz.

To read the full article on OpenHouse, check out VentureWire.

Write to Scott Martin at scott.martin@wsj.com. Follow him on Twitter at @scottysmartin