For a long time at Redfin, we have been casting about for an easy way to incorporate for-sale-by-owner listings from Web sites such as craigslist, or to supplement a real estate search with blog posts about the neighborhood being searched.
The problem has always been that craigslist, blogs and other Web sites aren’t structured databases the way that MLS databases are. The columns and rows of the MLS database make it easy to filter listings by, for example, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms the consumer wants to see, whereas the Web site feeds we get are just a bunch of text, which is hard to sort out once it reaches your browser.
Enter a new technology, Yahoo!’s cool new Pipes service, which lets us mash-up Web site feeds with MLS data. Yahoo! Pipes helps to turn web sites into databases, so that we can filter and manipulate the data from web sites the way we filter data and manipulate data from databases. With Pipes, one search on “La Jolla 3-bedroom homes” could return blog posts on property prices in La Jolla, La Jolla for-sale-by-owner listings from craigslist as well as data from the San Diego MLS.
Isn’t that exciting?
Redfin’s pioneering idea, that a real estate search site isn’t just a front-end to an MLS database, but a portal to other, more objective, data too, such as tax records, appraisals, property outlines and maps, can now be radically extended to encompass the entire Internet much more easily. What this means is that soon consumers may see a lot more information about a property from a lot more sources, not just the basic marketing details that the industry has traditionally wanted people to see.
Bonus link, from a friend of Redfin: Grenada national police band plays the Taiwanese national anthem in a Chinese-built stadium.