User error or business error?

I went to John L. Scott’s website the other day look at homes in Eugene, OR. I went to school there (University of Oregon) and when civil society seems near the breaking point here in the Bay Area, as it has recently, I sometimes think about moving back.

My daydream didn’t last long. I quickly got tangled up in their new "Neighborhood Wizard" feature:


I tried multiple times to carve out an area on the south side of town I remember being particularly nice. But no success. Now, I sit in front of a computer 12 hours a day. I’m pretty comfortable with the web. But this was beyond me.

It made me wonder if mapping in real estate has jumped the shark. Or if map fetishes run rampant in brokerage IT departments. Or if someone sent out the word back in 2001 that mapping listings was a universal good not to be questioned.

Or it was user error.

I am not alone in raising this question. Joel Burslem weighed in on the shortcomings of map-based real estate search when John L. Scott first launched Neighborhood Wizard a couple months ago.

If I am a relo client, unfamiliar with a city, drawing a polygon on top of a map I can’t interpret doesn’t do me much good. If I’m local, I’d be better searching by neighborhood name – something now possible on many sites.

This is not a knock on John L. Scott. We all know they’ve led the way on many technologies. My point is that we should perhaps focus on the elegance of online real estate applications rather than on how many features or data points we can cram into them.

Brian Boero