Like Etch A Sketch for online real estate searches, a new tool created for Pacific Northwest brokerage company John L. Scott Real Estate allows consumers to outline a customized shape on a map to search for available homes within that area.

The tool, called Neighborhood Wizard, uses geocoding technology to find home matches in the user-selected boundaries based on properties’ longitude and latitude coordinates.

“It’s almost like using an Etch A Sketch to define your search area,” said John L. Scott chairman and CEO J. Lennox Scott, referring to a handheld drawing tool invented in 1959. “You can be as picky as you like.”

And John Chang, vice president of marketing and e-business for John L. Scott, said in a statement that the new tool solves the problem of consumers who are “forced to search for homes within artificial boundaries that were defined by the MLS or ZIP codes.”

Users of the JohnLScott.com Web site define the customized map area by clicking on the Neighborhood Wizard button, and then define the search area by creating a series of lines that form a polygon.

The company notes that buyers can use the tool to narrow their home searches, and sellers can use the tool to keep track of competing homes for sale in a neighborhood area. Consumers can save their searches and receive e-mail updates when homes within the selected area arrive on the market, the company announced.

Real estate technology company WolfNet has a similar tool within its MapTracks mapping product that allows users to define customized rectangular search areas and to save those search areas.

John L. Scott’s Web site features graphical maps, aerial imagery and multi-angle “Bird’s Eye” imagery by Microsoft Virtual Earth, and also incorporates neighborhood information such as schools, restaurants and recreational areas.

John L. Scott Real Estate has 143 offices and 4,700 sales associates in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com, or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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