Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ranking Real Estate: Block Avenue

According to microeconomics, the discrepancy between the information available to people who own property and those who wish to buy is a big reason why property values are inefficiently calculated. That information is power is a well known fact but now, thanks to the internet, such information (like power) can be acquired democratically.
The main driver behind this movement in real estate is a website called Block Avenue, which documents and then compares property values across different city neighborhoods. The comparisons are based on feedback (graded A through to F) of how a street or community is doing according to set criteria, including amenities and healthcare facilities available in the neighborhood.
An accurate estimate of the "livability" of a property is easily gathered, as owners (the people with the most information about where they live) are asked to rate their neighborhood.
However, as a critic pointed out, "Why would owners rate their property and location poorly?"
To counter this, Block Avenue allows anyone familiar with a neighborhood to contribute to the rating. It also uses objective data sources such as census reports on crime rates, as well as yellow book listings of businesses and recreational options to grade.
With the help of Google Maps and Street View, Block Avenue makes hunting for real estate incredibly convenient and potential investors can virtually eliminate the need to visit a property before buying it,
Launched earlier this year, Block Avenue touts itself as a service made by the people for the people. Apart from property owners and buyers, Block Avenue is generating interest among researchers working on determining how amenities and other variables impact property prices in a given neighborhood. Currently, the services provided by Block Avenue are available only in the US, but with the amount of interest it is generating, the company expects to expand worldwide in the near future.