Technology

Real estate agents can dig up the inside skinny on properties using new service

Revaluate assigns 'livability scores' based on safety, environment, quality of life, and expenses

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Real estate agents have plenty of resources for pulling up granular market and neighborhood data on properties. But that information doesn’t always tell a meaningful story about a particular listing.

Revaluate wants to help agents do a better job of conveying what it’s like to live in a home.

The site mines data from a wide range of public and private sources to generate “livability scores” for properties, along with dossiers that are supposed to expose both dirt and delights.

Revaluate reports can “make the agent appear way more informed about the livability of these properties,” said co-founder Chris Drayer.

Currently in beta, Revaluate provides free reports for properties in Manhattan, generating livability scores that are based on scores in four main criteria: safety, environment, quality of life, and expenses.

Along with a livability score, every property report shows the data that Revaluate has processed to generate the rating. So under environment data, for example, you might see public records of vermin complaints, while quality of life issues might include noise and other nuisance complaints.

Max Galka, also a co-founder of Revaluate, recognizes that assigning an objective score to something whose appeal is subjective has its limitations. Galka says the livability rating is “not meant to capture everything.” The score is meant to be a guideline, and Revaluate may eventually decide to tailor the ratings based on a person’s preferences.

That might make the tool more useful to someone like me. Though Galka said the site wants to avoid stigmatizing properties, Revaluate rated my former apartment building a dismal 41 out of 100.

I liked living there, and didn’t notice the alleged rat infestations, unreliable utilities, conflicts between management and tenants, and the potential need for plumbing, boiler and building maintenance, cited by Revaluate as justification for its score.

Regardless of the usefulness of the site’s livability ratings, Revaluate’s comprehensive dossiers on each property provide lots of insights, down to “cultural” information like the names of local famous people and nearby places that were sets for popular films.

Galka says agents who consult the reports will never be “feeling they’re sort of out of the loop” on the issues that clients bring up.

“We’re allowing real estate agents to take someone to a couple properties that are very similar and say, ‘Ah, this one has potentially a little bit of a noise issue; this one has some construction that’s wrapping up; this one has several famous neighbors'” living nearby, Galka said.

Revaluate says it collects its data from more than 2,000 sources, which Drayer says is way more than the number of sources used by competitors, like AddressReport and Homefacts.com.

Some of these are public records available online; others are public records that are more difficult to access. The last type of data comes from private sources. Revaluate wouldn’t name any of them, saying they’re part of Revaluate’s “secret sauce.”

In the future, it plans to offer only some of the information it provides today for free, charging agents on a subscription basis for access to the rest.