Affordability is perhaps one of the most important factors in finding a new home for the majority of prospective buyers. From the moment you meet a client, you begin to talk about pre-qualification, down payments, and in what price range they feel most comfortable. Most potential homeowners also worry about selecting a good neighborhood. They want something not too far from work or the best school for their children, but they also want to be somewhere they feel safe. Trying to accommodate every need and want of your buyers can be frustrating.
Redfin answered the President’s call to innovate through the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy’s open data event called, The Opportunity Project. Redfin was among 12 companies working on the project.
Redfin combined White House opportunity data with innovation and a real concern for locating housing affordability to produce their tool, Opportunity Score. This tool includes information about the price of housing, but it also combines the White House opportunity data including data on home sales and rentals, mobility data from Walk Score [rates the distance it takes to walk from point A to point B] and Transit Score [rates how well a location is serviced by public transportation].
Using this information, Opportunity Score can pinpoint housing within easy reach of job centers of opportunities for employment.
Why they wanted to create Opportunity Score
Redfin could have easily used this information to benefit only themselves, but instead, they decided they could do more with their ideas. Redfin Chief Economist, Nela Richardson, stated, “[They] applaud the [Obama] administration or bringing the technology community to the table to talk about economic mobility in America. [Redfin] is hopeful that Opportunity Score and other tools from this initiative can help people make informed decisions about where they live and give more families the opportunity to thrive.” If this isn’t a tool born out of concern for others, I don’t know what is. As our readers well know, economic mobility isn’t determined by skill, education, or luck. Your actual ZIP code can play a role too and this is where Redfin’s Opportunity Score wants to help.
It can identify neighborhood within a 30-minute walk, bike ride, or transit trip to employment centers where jobs pay $40,000 per year or more.
Access to the community
As Richardson stated, “affordability is a growing challenge, one [they] see firsthand as a real estate brokerage helping people buy and sell homes, but the price of a home or the cost of rent is only part of the equation. People want a home where they can have a reasonable commute to work, participate in the community, and access opportunities that can provide a better future for their children.” Opportunity Score is the first step in using technology to determine where you should start looking for a home that suits these needs.
Kudos to Redfin for knocking the open data market project out of the park and selflessly creating a really useful, relevant tool. It will give Realtors® and homebuyers the ability to find affordable, practical housing in places that suit the needs and preferences of the homebuyer without endless amounts of time searching, showing, and narrowing down a seemingly endless list of potential homes.