On the brighter side: 2 things that suggest a path for online real estate innovation in '09

My post on online real estate innovation yesterday was pretty bleak.

That’s still my sentiment, but here’s a counterbalance:

I think the single biggest opportunity in online real estate in 2009 lies in improving our grasp on the real estate market at a hyper-local level.

Yes, we have Shiller’s index. Yes, NAR cranks out its numbers. And companies like Altos and Terradatum have done a great job using listings on public search sites or MLS data to provide metrics like DOM and price medians.

But still, as the owner of a 3-bed, 3-bath home in the Redwood Heights neighborhood in Oakland, CA, I am pretty much in the dark about my local market. I get a lot of information, but the level of analysis is off. Or the UI is crappy. It’s always something.

Two things that popped up yesterday point to ways we may be able to improve on that in 2009.

Predict It @ ZipRealty Realius [disclosure: 1000WATT performed consulting work for the company in 2007] announced a partnership with ZipRealty to place its property price prediction application on the Zip site. The idea is simple: Users predict the price they think a listing will sell for. The predictions are collected and run through an algorithm. What comes out is an aggregate prediction based on the “wisdom of the crowd.”

I have concerns about accuracy (among other things, including legal bugaboos) but Realius CEO Chuck Teller tells me that, looking back, the model performs very well, which suggests that the model may perform well looking forward.

Which is the point.

We’ll see if the idea takes off. HomePredict also plays in this space and has been at it for a while.

Second, REI, the outdoor gear retailer, announced an iPhone application that provides snow reports at skiZumobi and REI resorts across North America. In other words: Current conditions at numerous and variable hyper-local “markets.”

I’d love to see a mobile app that applies this to real estate market conditions. To do it right, the data need to be good, the level of analysis needs to be right, and the interface has to be super simple.

The REI app offers some good cues.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I am off base? What am I missing? Where do you see opportunity heading in ’09?



Brian Boero