After raising more than $200 million in venture funding and surpassing a $1 billion valuation, the social network Nextdoor is finally figuring out how to make money: real estate ads.
The start-up, which was founded in 2010 as a way for neighbors to communicate online, launched a section on Tuesday that aims to connect real estate professionals with residents in a particular neighborhood.
Agents and brokers can create official business pages on Nextdoor to build their reputation as a local expert. They can also pay to sponsor a neighborhood section and buy branded listings so their Nextdoor profile shows up alongside their listings when someone searches for homes in the area.
"It's an opportunity for real estate agents to sponsor a dedicated section where they can connect and build relationships with neighbors," Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia said in an interview.
According to research from Borrell Associates, the real estate industry spent $26.8 billion on advertising last year in the U.S., making it one of the largest local advertising categories. Nextdoor sends postcards to people when they move into a new place, inviting them to set up a profile, and then links them in a semiprivate group of their neighbors.
The company has been called the "anti-Facebook" because it verifies users by address and connects people in their immediate vicinity. But the site has gained notoriety for allowing neighbors to stir up paranoia about crime on their streets. Last year, Nextdoor released tools to curb racial profiling within its groups.