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New real estate search engine reveals “the truth” about properties

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Is Localize changing the house hunting game or are they just fooling themselves?

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When I heard Localize describe itself as “Netflix but for houses,” I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow (is anyone else exhausted with the X but for Y techie trend, or is it just me?).

That tagline is not just tired, it’s also confused. Judging by its description on producthunt.com, this new NYC-based startup is much more like Carfax-meets-Nextdoor than Netflix.

Localize is a real estate search engine for house hunters. Their claim to fame is how they record complaints about the properties and neighborhoods in their listings, as well as providing details like nearby transportation, construction, crime rates, and demographic stats for the area.

They are currently only operating within New York and Chicago, with plans to expand to other US cities and Canada.

Localize does sound promising – it tries to give users an impression of what it might be like to live somewhere long before they decide to move in. I could see this service encouraging more direct lines of accountability between property managers and potential (or even past) residents. Listing accessibility concerns like elevator functionality within apartment complexes is a great move too, since that can be a make-or-break factor for disabled and aging people.

A few aspects of Localize give me pause, though. For one, it has a strange fixation on emphasizing that they will provide users with “the truth” in their marketing language. Yes, their goal is to improve transparency in the process of searching for housing, but it’s also like they’re trying to imply that their competitors are lying, and that’s a pretty cheap trick.

Huge real estate players like RE/MAX and sites like realtor.com all rely on local Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) information, which comes straight from individual realtors – who are, by the way, legally obligated to disclose “the truth” about their properties.

Plus, there’s something kind of tone deaf about Localize’s model. There are lots of issues with trying to find housing in cities like New York and Chicago: They are expensive and competitive markets, and right now lots of New Yorkers and Chicagoans are housing insecure because of the economic impact of COVID-19.

On their blog, Localize highlights how it conveniently lets users browse detailed listings while staying quarantined.

But I admit that I have serious doubts that this does anything to really address the needs that the majority of their target demographic currently faces. Sure, Localize could help folks find their dream home, but is that really a viable business plan for the present moment? Especially with so many people struggling to just keep a roof over their head?

I’ll give them this: there’s little doubt that Localize’s mission is sincere – plenty of attempts to “disrupt” an industry are. But sincerity and naivety are by no means mutually exclusive.

Desmond Meagley is an award-winning writer, graphic artist and cultural commentator in D.C. A proud YR Media alumn, Desmond's writing and illustrations have been featured in the SF Chronicle, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, The Daily Cal, and NPR among others. In their spare time, Desmond enjoys vegetarian cooking and vigorous bike rides.

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Real Estate Technology

Drones inspired by birds

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Newly developed drones incorporate a flapping X-wing design that allow them to fly, thrust, and maneuver much like a bird.

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X-wing drones

The next generation of drones will master the art and aerodynamics of flight with actual wings! This complex engineering feat adds both stability and an unforeseen agility to drones, which means they will be more useful than ever before.

Darting, flapping, swooping, hovering, and soaring are a few of the improved capabilities these cross-wing ornithopters have, making them far superior to the often wobblier, stiffer versions on the market now. The creators of the ornithopters used reverse engineering based on detailed observation and study of how birds move to create a winged version of the flying robot drones.

Instead of the propellers and fixed-wings used in conventional drones, these new drones flap their wings and raise their tails in order to create a forward thrust, similar to how birds and insects fly. The X-wing designs make these flying robots better at maneuvering tight spaces, giving them greater control at varying speeds.

How exactly does the X-wing design excel where other flapping-wing designs have failed? The inventors form a team of researchers from Singapore, Australia, China, and Taiwan. In a recent Science Robotics magazine article, they explain:

“One difference is that our ornithopters make use of the “clap and fling” effect. The two pairs of wings flap such that they meet, like hands clapping. This makes enough extra thrust to lift their body weight when hovering.”

The ornithopters have control over nose and tail as well, and can quickly change from moving horizontally to moving vertically. They also use up to 40% less energy to run, and can be flown like a regular plane, or hover like an existing drone in order to conserve even more energy. Because of the greater control and increased capabilities of these drones, they also have more uses including being safe enough to fly inside.

One of the researchers responsible for creating this ornithopter, Lau Gih-Keong, an associate professor in mechanical engineering at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, spoke to CNN about specific future uses of these flying machines. The new drones can be used to maneuver in and out of nearly inaccessible, tight spaces. For example, they can easily fly in and out of a ventilation duct, where regular inspections are difficult but essential to system upkeep.

If you want to see how these next gen drones work, The Conversation published three videos of these marvels in motion. They look small, about the size of a hummingbird or even a large, flying insect. One can only imagine their potential after seeing how agile they are. In that same article, the researchers have said they will continue to refine and develop these and newer drones, based on the evolution of birds.

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Real Estate Technology

This note-taking app adapts to your thought process

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Relanote is a dynamic alternative to the age-old practice of taking notes.

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relanote notes

Taking notes is a process that has evolved substantially to fit individuals and has stayed relatively static in overall execution. It may be surprising, then, for us to say that a new take on note-taking is worth your immediate and full attention–but that’s exactly the case.

Relanote is a fresh entry in the arguably oversaturated “Notepad” app category. All of the features you’d expect in a minimalist note-taking app are there–encryption, note sharing, a free version, access across the four main computer and mobile platforms–but what makes it truly interesting is its hierarchical system of organization.

Somewhat like Slack, Relanote allows you to tag other notes by using the “@” symbol, and you can classify your notes by using hashtags within them. This is a super simple but effective way to organize, find, and utilize your notes without having to do any kind of copying and pasting, split window view, or swiping back and forth.

Once you’ve tagged a note in another note, you can zoom out to see how the two (or more) notes connect to each other in a visual “graph” that displays each of your tagged notes in a web. You can even filter different tags on the graph so that any irrelevant information is left out when looking for something specific.

The app also has a file-and-folder storage option to help organize your notes in a “physical” manner. “By leveraging the power of both methods, Relanote adapts to your way of thinking,” Relanote’s product page claims.

Relanote outlines quite a few upcoming features on their website, some of which include importing, exporting, themes, and templates for your notes. If you’d like to access these features, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version ($4 per month) or the team version ($9 per month). However, Relanote makes it clear that the core principle of their app is present in the free version–and that’s enough to get you started.

A note-taking app that adapts to your particular process of writing, organizing, and revising sounds like a steal, especially when you consider that the base version is free for unlimited use. Especially if you’re a visual person who’s looking for a new way to record information, Relanote is worth your time.

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Real Estate Technology

Grapevine is the new Snapchat for work and team meetings

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) In an era of offensively inefficient video communications, Grapevine appears to be a breath of fresh air.

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grapevine zoom competitor

If you’re anything like us, you’re completely burnt out on Zoom meetings that, quite frankly, could have been much, much shorter (or completely relegated to the email medium). Should you find yourself experiencing the same frustration, cheer up–there’s a solution.

Grapevine, an asynchronous meeting app designed specifically for remote teams, is a clear answer to the question, “what if I’m not free at that time?” Their slogan–”Team updates without team meetings”–perfectly summarizes what they’re about: Efficiency of information dissemination without the abhorrent time suck that is your average Zoom call.

It’s also worth noting that Grapevine is an amicable solution for employees working in patchy Wi-Fi zones or operating on cellular data (as it seems to go these days). The same could be said for issues related to time zones, appointments, or other inconveniences that arise all too frequently in the remote work atmosphere.

The way Grapevine works is devilishly simple: Think Snapchat, but for work.

Any member of a team can record, view, and respond to one-way video recordings inside of the Grapevine framework. There’s even a feature that functions as a morning briefing of sorts, allowing you to catch up on all of the content from work that you missed overnight, while on vacation, or so on.

Video comments can be shared or pinned to answer questions efficiently rather than having to re-record or paraphrase a response, and these comments form threads that can be accessed at any time, making the process of checking feedback simple and quick, as opposed to the general nightmare that is scrubbing through a Zoom recording.

Grapevine also allows you to divide into teams and function within those groups separately, making it a bit of an amalgam between Slack and the aforementioned Snapchat.

All of that is pretty great, but perhaps the best aspect is that Grapevine is free to use–at least in its current form. While the Grapevine team promises to bring premium access and features to the app soon, the basic version of Grapevine will remain free, and the premium access will take the form of an “affordable subscription.”

You don’t have to ditch Zoom entirely, but if you want your employees or coworkers to stop sticking needles in your effigy after hours, Grapevine is a great alternative.

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