Move over, Nextdoor. There's a new app in town. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is gearing up to nab a share of the hyperlocal scene with a new feature called Neighborhoods. Like Nextdoor, Neighborhoods will provide a platform for neighbors to connect, share community news and events, and seek out recommendations from anything from home renovation estimates to the best spots in the park for birdwatching.
It's not too surprising that Facebook is encroaching on Nextdoor's territory. It's long been the social media giant's M.O. to put its own spin on established platforms, such as when it debuted Facebook Stories as an alternative to Snapchat (NYSE: SNAP) and Instagram Stories, the latter of which Facebook also owns.
Neighborhoods is currently only available in parts of Canada, and Facebook is being strategic in its rollout in the U.S. CNET reports that Neighborhoods will be in just four communities to start: Charlotte, North Carolina; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; San Diego; and Newark, New Jersey.
Why it pays for investors to get the local scoop
While both Nextdoor and Neighborhoods are primarily intended for locals to connect with each other, real estate investors stand to benefit from logging on, too.
Nextdoor reports that 1 in 4 conversations on its platform are about homes and real estate. That's why it launched its Your Home feature, which allows for residents to find the estimated value of their homes, view local listings recently sold, and connect with local real estate agents for questions and information about the local property market. It's entirely possible that Facebook will do something similar with Neighborhoods.
Both digital platforms allow people to keep their finger on the pulse of what's happening in their community. Users must share or otherwise verify their home addresses, so you can't use it to scope out neighborhoods too far away from your home base for investment purposes.
Still, it could pay for investors to pay attention to the communities where they own properties. For example, are people lamenting about packages being stolen from their front porches? Time to install a security camera at that rental property. An upcoming estate sale could mean a home sale is also imminent. Is someone asking a question about the local real estate market? This is your chance to dive in with some expert knowledge. (Pro tip: Savvy real estate agents especially would do well to avoid the hard sell and instead angle themselves as something of a neighborhood expert.)
Then again, investors might get a little more than they bargained for by joining either platform. The major issue people have with Nextdoor is that seemingly innocuous conversations can devolve into ugly banter. What was meant to be a good place to find a dog walker or a house cleaner has been marred by heated political rants and other un-neighborly rhetoric.
A team of "community reviewers" made up of Nextdoor members are supposed to keep an eye on threads and delete where necessary, but the experience has left a sour taste for many (including yours truly). In anticipation of this, Facebook will have its own team of moderators to keep the conversation "relevant and kind," but only time will tell.
The bottom line
It can be somewhat of a chore to keep up with yet another social media platform. But the good news is that Neighborhoods is part of Facebook's existing platform, so users won't need to open a new account when it becomes available.