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Neighborhood search a boon for real estate

Online services take local search to a new level

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Neighborhoods are taking shape online as Internet companies expand the capabilities of local search. Neighborhood-specific searches allow users to move beyond the typical geographic parameters of city or ZIP code to find relevant matches, though defining neighborhood names and boundaries can be an imperfect science. Yahoo! in August announced the launch of a "search by neighborhood" feature for major metropolitan areas, through Yahoo! Local. It is now possible to search for real estate agents in San Francisco's "Lower Haight" or "Marina" areas, for example, or in New York's "Chelsea" or "Soho" neighborhoods. Yahoo! Local has divided San Francisco into 31 neighborhoods, and New York City into 24 neighborhood areas. Other online sites, too, provide neighborhood-specific information to users, and experts say real estate is a natural beneficiary of neighborhood-based search. As some print advertising dollars shift online, the battle has heated up among online search sites to t...