24 February 2007

Web 2.0 meets real estate

I recently--in the context of this blog, I mean--opened the can of worms that is web 2.0 vis-a-vis education. Another important intersection between the internet and the real world is real estate. Although there's a tendency, as I recently noted, for people to think that the internet univocally minimizes the importance of geography, in fact there are a number of interesting ways in which the internet actually reifies geographical distinctions. One important way is through the organization and distribution of real estate information.

I've been poking around in the web 2.0 universe a little bit lately, and I'd like briefly to introduce four web 2.0 real estate tools to anyone who may not have yet heard of them. Organized roughly in order, in this author's humble opinion, from most interesting to least interesting (all emphasis added to call out the key innovation of each project):

(1) Zillow. From the site:

Today we are answering what we believe is the first question most home buyers, sellers, and the curious ask: "How much is this home really worth?" Zillow.com calculates a valuation (the Zestimate™) that anyone can see — for free — for most homes in the U.S., including yours. Or the one you want to be yours. Or the one you are curious about. Or ours, for that matter. You can refine the value of any home with My Estimator, an interactive tool that allows you to enter things you know about a home but we don't.
(2) Homethinking. From the site:
Homethinking helps you find real estate agents by showing you what each real estate agent has done in the past and what customers have said about the job they did.
(3) Propsmart. From the site:
Propsmart is a next-generation, independent real estate search engine and online community. We crawl and index over 1 million homes for sale and other properties, then organize and display them on a slick Google Map interface.
(4) Trulia. From the site:
Whether you are moving down the street or clear across the country, we're here to help you understand real estate trends at the local level. When you are about to make the biggest financial decision of your life, we help you understand how your future home stacks up compared to similar homes on the market, and similar homes that have recently sold. We show you how sales prices have been trending where it matters—in your county, city, ZIP code and neighborhood.
All players to watch.