Drupal Commerce suitability for Real Estate

Is Drupal Commerce (DC) suitable for a real estate application?
Has there been any experience with a DC Real Estate application?

There is a Drupal Real Estate group that seems to have hit road blocks but none seem to have considered DC, is there a reason for this?

Real estate is different from other commerce websites in that every item (property) has different characteristics and would require the display of a photo for that particular item. Does this present an issue?
Would each property be considered a different product, or could products be grouped; for example properties for rent, properties for sale, commercial properties, and land?

Posted: Jan 15, 2012


jpontani on January 30, 2012

DC is mostly for selling a product rather than listing items. However, it would still be a viable solution for real estate (in my eyes at least).

You could group properties into general categories (product types) such as homes, apartments, commercial properties, land, etc. This way you group properties that will have similar attributes (commercial properties typically have a general set of attributes that will most likely differ from homes or land or apartments).

Each of these attributes could simply be just a field on the "product type" that is needed. Things like differentiating between renting/selling properties or availability would be fields as well (consider it more of a "status" than a distinction between product types).

And instead of "add to cart", you could simply use the checkout/order feature of DC to be more of an inquiry record keeping system, so that the end user simply adds properties to the "cart", and then proceeds to and completes the "checkout" process, but it is simply used as a means to see who is interested in a specific property and to gain their contact info.

Tokoh on February 10, 2012

Thanks to jpontani.
I've built a real estate site based on commerce using kickstart as a starting point and have shown it to an agent.
It does all of the things it needs to but I really can't see any particular advantage in favour of using commerce rather than those features offered by a straight Drupal site. If anything commerce gets in the way.
I guess the big advantage is that there is an entity rather than a node to to represent the core element, the product. But to use commerce for real estate the product is a property. And properties are somewhat different from normal commerce products. For one there is only one instance, so line items are probably redundant. Another the price of the property is not fixed, depending if the property is offered for sale or for auction. But properties are not only offered for sale, they are also offered for rent. A rental property would remain a product item forever but pass from being available to unavailable depending on its rental status thereby governing its visibility. The add-to-cart functionality and cart itself also get in the way, having contextually limited relevance. Finally this issue of having to create the product and then creating a display node for the product is just extra work for the agent.
The other thing that I've found is that drupal commerce is built around the concept of the internet as a salesperson. Because real estate is a high cost item the sales person is paramount and the system is an adjunct to sales. It needs an entity to represent the sales person and then workflow can be built around the activities of the sales person. Commerce seems not to have this capacity. Mind you its focus would suggest it shouldn't.
The use of an entity to represent a customer as in commerce could be of use but I haven't got that far.
Another party not represented in commerce is the vendor, this is also of importance in real estate.
But then there's all this other stuff in commerce that is important, but not for real estate, like shipping, and payments.
I'm going to rebuild my system using standard Drupal and see if this works. My guess is that it will, and do it just as well. If it does then I'll add entities to represent properties and other to represent sales persons and customer and vendors.
I'll try to provide this forum with an update so as to close this matter off for possible future others.

offthechain on March 5, 2012

I'll be interested to see how you go with this.

I'm in a similar situation building a site for a training organisation, they have larger programs like degrees, diplomas, and cert III/IV that you would not expect payment online, and an enquiry is the end result, but they also have short courses where online enrolments are common.

Is it possible perhaps to create a new payment type of 'enquiry', which gathers name, address, phone, email etc without mention of price? And simply enable this payment type for products that are not purchased online?