Inspiration

Whenever I'm in a new city or neighbourhood that has a great vibe, or see a home with great kerb appeal, I often wonder what it would cost to live there. House Hunting is the quickest way to satisfy that curiosity.

What it does

The skill uses Alexa Conversations to capture the customer's desired search location and property details. If permission for location services is granted, and available, the skill presents a 'search nearby' option. If not, it falls back to requesting a zip code. With location services enabled, the skill uses a geocoding API to get detailed location data, then a real estate service API to search local listings in that area. Pricing will always be up to date because the skill searches current listings for each session. I designed the skill with Alexa users 'on the go' in mind, so if you're using it on your mobile, car, ear buds or other wearable device, you don't even need to know what zip code you're in - the skill does that for you.

How I built it

I built House Hunting using an Alexa-hosted skills, Node.js, Javascript, and it's connected to two third-party APIs using axios. The first API is Google's GMP for reverse geocoding when using location services. The second is Realtor.com's API for accessing property listings.

Challenges I ran into

I had to quickly learn not just Alexa Conversations but also Alexa-hosted skills, because I've always used the ASK-CLI but it's not supported yet for Alexa Conversations. But my main challenge was working with Alexa Conversations as a brand-new component in the Alexa ecosystem. This was my first planned skill for the challenge, and I temporarily abandoned it thinking I'd bitten off too much. After submitting my 'backup' skill I had learned enough and had great support from the Alexa team, that I decided to push ahead and finish this one as well.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Getting the skill finished after much head-scratching while debugging my Alexa Conversations piece.

What I learned

Don't keep silent - use the challenge forums and support teams - they are amazing.

What's next for House Hunting

1) Much richer Alexa Conversations dialogs for additional search filtering (e.g. number or beds, baths and price range).

2) More detailed property results, possibly offered as an email report with links to the listings and contact details for follow-up. This version of the skill was for the curious tire-kicker. The next version might be for the serious house hunter!

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