Latest twist in real estate search will help buyers find communities

Watch for a slew of online real estate search sites to add yet another layer of precision as Maponics rolls out data products that make it possible to look for homes in distinct communities that can form around “social objects” like hospitals, national parks, school grounds and military bases.

The goal is to take real estate search beyond neighborhood boundaries, which are often arbitrary and can lump together enclaves that meaningfully differ from each other.

Consumers could use searches powered by Maponics’ “Communities” data to discover listings within a five-minute walk of a dog-friendly park that’s big enough for a dog to run in, said Maponics CEO Dan Adams.

Maponics just released “+Hospitals Boundaries,” and is gearing up to unveil “+School Grounds,” among other data sets.

The latter will show the boundaries of school properties, not attendance zones or school districts, which Maponics has offered for some time.

URBAN4M has tried to achieve the same objective by designing “aboutPLACE,” a data product that could make it possible for people to search listings based on criteria including safety, school quality, demographic composition, and proximity to businesses and public transit.

Maponics cited Trulia, Redfin, Century 21 and Realtors Property Resource among clients that it’s permitted to name.

Some are already in the process of implementing “+Residential Boundaries” — a data set that maps smaller areas than neighborhoods, such as subdivisions and homeowners associations — into their applications.

Maponics claims the first of sites to go live with “+Residential,” which Maponics released last summer, “will have a distinct advantage over their competitors by presenting listings in a much more targeted way.”

The company envisions its customers integrating different data sets to create “valuable, highly localized and layered geographic views of their consumers’ characteristics and interests,” merging that information with proprietary customer and location data to better understand and analyze patterns of behavior.

The data sets could also make it easier to discover how much more or less a home should be valued based on its proximity to a school or military base, which Maponics says could help increase the accuracy of some automated valuation models.

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