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App to analyze noise levels, will Trulia beat them to the punch?

Measuring noise levels could soon be a reality for all listings, and is Trulia the company to make it happen?



New app to analyze noise

Scientists at the University of Granada in southern Spain are creating a new application1 to analyze noise pollution, and combines data like street type, road conditions, and average vehicle speed to predict the noise level on any given street at any given time. It is said the technology is 95 percent accurate.

The app is seen as immediately useful to people who are looking to rent or purchase a home, taking noise levels into consideration as they select their location. Researchers are currently trying to reduce the number of variables required to produce an accurate forecast of the noise levels in a given area.

To develop this new system, the researchers analyzed a set of noise data collected in Granada in 2007, although they are collecting further data in other cities “to validate the model.” The noise forecasting models employed to date have been based on traditional mathematical methods that predict noise levels using a specific set of data. “This is the first system to apply Soft Computing methods in urban noise assessment,” adds one of the researchers, “and there is scarce literature available on this method”.

According to GOOD Magazine2, “Noise pollution can contribute to some serious health problems—including stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, hearing loss, and heart attacks. It’s also lousy for ecosystems, threatening coral reefs and killing whales. If this application helps us study, and mitigate, those effects, it could be useful for much more than just home shopping.”

A different method, a different company

While researchers at the Spanish university devote time and money to this complicated algorithm, the private sector has already hinted that American real estate may someday have noise measurements included in listing data.

In late 2010, Trulia acquired, an insanely innovative real estate search company that used animated heat maps to explain things, including noise levels, particularly in San Francisco by using physical monitors of areas throughout the day and night.

Click the image below to watch the animation of a single neighborhood:

Imagine a visualization like this in every city in America. Because Trulia acquired Movity and who knows how many patents, along with their ridiculously intelligent talent, Trulia is the only real estate search company that could beat the University of Granada to the punch, without having to develop billions of dollars worth of algorithms.

What would be even more dramatic and innovative is if Trulia (or any real estate search company) worked with the University of Granada to adopt their algorithm, then implement the Movity-style heat maps. That would be genius.

1 University of Granada Report
2 GOOD Magazine

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Eric Wu

    June 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks Lani!  Noise pollution and it’s affects on health, location, home pricing, etc has definitely been an area of interest at Trulia.  We’ve discussed creating a noise model based on similar factors as the University of Granada, and also including building data to help accurately predict how noise travels around different types/sizes of buildings.  Vehicle traffic is one factor, with foot traffic another that’s difficult to model.  I agree that it’s a still an unsolved problem for movers and will discuss synergies with the University of Granada.  Thanks again! – Eric

  2. NoiseScore

    June 24, 2012 at 11:43 am

    There is another related noise project and app from the Sony Computer Lab in Paris called NoiseTube that may be worth considering in this equation. Also, I have a shameless plug for a side project I started a few years ago to turn San Francisco’s static noise map into searchable information to help renters and home buyers make more informed decisions about noise. It’s called  I created an algorithm based on traffic, population density, proximity to business areas, and other factors.  

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Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?



Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.



aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.



zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub,, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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