Redfin's Mind: In the Sewer Again

In its discussion of Redfin’s MapStats technology, the New York Times‘ real estate blog notes that the pace of technology innovation has become “ferocious.”

Of course, we agree. But such innovations aren’t always glamorous. For example, one insightful reader this evening asked that we incorporate information about sewer work permits on our map, which is publicly available from the city governments.

We’ve had other folks ask for horse paddocks, sex offenders (different requestor), flight pathways, commute times. The only way we’ll be able to keep up is by opening up our MapStats and MapLayers architecture to let other developers build their own mashups, which would be a first in real estate technology.

DCLU Permits.jpg

It could also be a first in a much broader sense, because unlike map mashups, we’ll probably take a portal approach. Instead of having five different sites for five different layers, we may let home-shoppers apply multiple layers, built by different developers (we’d find a way to give developers attribution within the site). This would let home-shoppers see all the layers — sewer work permits built by Bob & zoning permits built by Jane — all in one place.

Of course, to get layers, we’ll need a developer community. And to build a community we’ll need a conference. Not one for real estate agents, but for real estate developers & technologists. Wouldn’t that be fun? Stay tuned later this week for news about that…

And if you think of a layer you’d like to see on your map — or one you’d like to build — post a comment below!


  • Sasha

    I want red and blue dots from that show you how your neighbors align politically (in a fiscal sense, at least). I find the maps that fundrace already provides to be fascinating:

    Voter registration by party could also be mapped out by address, as it is public information as well.

  • Jonathon Welles

    There are about 50 reasons why open sourcing interfaces in a business environment is bad. Developers will love you, but in the long run the product will suffer and you’ll have exposed your guts to tech minded people that will be keen to rip off Redfin and do it themselves. Which means you need the developeres to sign an NDA….remember the Alamo!

  • Dustin

    Don’t you take the weekends off at Redfin? ;)

    Great idea! I look forward to seeing how this develops!

  • Luke Gunderson

    I think that sex offenders mashups would be super nice have when buying a new house. You just have to make sure that it is up to date.

  • Yumio

    What, like a Plumtree portal?

  • Glenn Kelman

    Yeah, Yumio, guilty as charged (& good to hear from you).