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YCombinator’s Movity brings innovation to real estate search

Over time, we have learned that some of the most creative innovations in the real estate space have come from within from people who were formerly software developers turned Realtor now turned software folk again. Recently, however, we’re seeing more innovation from outside of the space.

A solid example from outside the real estate space is, a San Fransisco real estate search portal (currently in private beta) that aims to answer the tough questions real estate professionals can’t, like “how safe is that neighborhood” or “what do locals think?”

One of the innovations recently launched by Movity is Tender Noise which is a project where they put sound sensors up all around the city and collected data on noise levels. Before, no one could legitimately answer the “how loud is it here?” question. And you thought being able to search listings from a phone was innovative? Nay!

Go check out the animation now and look at the legend at the bottom showing exactly how loud each color on the map is. Read here about how they set it all up, it’s an interesting read, from how they hung the receivers to how some of them were stolen!

Honestly, we’ve been bored for some time with real estate innovation… it’s like we hit some sort of paradigm that developers and companies are now stuck in and real estate technologies aren’t advancing. Sure, gadgets are sexier and they work on iPad, but what’s really innovative about that? Most companies will be on the “me too, I have an iPad app too, look at me” bandwagon within the next year.

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We were the first to tell you about lifestyle search company SpatialMatch (pictured below) this spring, and we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about Movity- true innovation is coming out at a massively decelerated pace as of late, so we’re talking about it (and salivating over it) any chance we get.

To really think outside of the box, it looks like for now, disruption is going to come from outside the real estate space, and what better place to give birth to major disruption than San Fran? The overly tech savvy agents in the area will love it, but I predict that the old guard in real estate will abhor the site even though it’s helpful for consumers.

Why they’re a company to watch:

Movity is definitely a company to watch- before they’re even openly public, they’ve launched a brilliantly innovative project and we can only imagine what’s next for them.

One of their investors is YCombinator (which gives them visibility most startups only dream of) and they’ve already lined up an impressive team ranging from the founder of, as well as some of the mapping talent behind Twitter, CNN and MTV, and even development talent from Bing and Expedia, so let’s just assume that between their current team and their future talent, their mapping, UI and search features will set the bar pretty high… just click the “about us” link on the right side of their landing page to geek out on their credentials and investors (drool alert).

The moral of this story is that these third party companies that have gotten overly comfortable in their standing should take note- innovation isn’t dead after all, it’s been hiding inside some non-Realtor minds on the west coast… mobile apps are great, but innovation is much deeper than that and Movity is going to challenge what people consider to be innovative.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Janie Coffey

    July 10, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Lani, we are looking for the most innovate IDX search site, any suggestions? This will not be embedded in our blog, we use Realbird for that, but simply a stand alone, 100% search site… Looking for innovative, informative and user friendly (from both the front and backend), with all your special beta news bits, any ideas of what’s coming?

    • Benn Rosales

      July 10, 2010 at 10:42 am

      Hi Janie, we’ve been hammering @displet . I like it not only for its flexibility but for it’s out of the box solution. Not everyone is trying to be consumer facing. It’s still in beta, but it’s certainly worth watching and investigating. I’d like to see it tied to SpatialMatch. [FTR: we have no commercial affiliation with Displet]

  2. Janie Coffey

    July 10, 2010 at 11:06 am

    thanks Benn, I’m off to look at Displet now! We need a new solution by August if possible…

  3. Eric Bramlett

    July 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Hey Benn –

    Thanks for the mention. I’ve been meaning to email you about SpatialMatch, and am doing so now (we think it’s an awesome product.)

    As Lani mentions, innovation in the IDX/RETS space is interesting in that we have to follow each board’s unique rules & regulations. As such, the really awesome innovation sometimes must come from non-Realtors.

    We have to remember that IDX is an agreement between brokers/sellers, and not justa feed. The example I use is public commentary – while I think it’s great to be able to publish & see what other buyers think of any listing, a seller who gets a “this place smells like cat pee” comment might not. The old way of thinking is to squash comments (which most all boards have done.) A better way of thinking is to say, “hmmm, maybe we should reduce price or make the listing smell better and then notify everyone publicly about this.”

    Ultimately, innovation CAN come from within the local boards. However, it takes action (doesn’t it always) from the innovators within the local boards. Working with a handful of different local boards (5) so far has shown us just how much the prevalent attitudes regarding technology vary. Invariably, the prevalent attitudes reflect those of the most involved members.

    Thanks for putting Movity on our radar, and reminding us how awesome SpatialMatch is!

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