Know Your Neighbors, Then Tell the World How Bad They Are

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It seems that city level real estate search is so thoroughly saturated now (Trulia, Shackprices, Move.com, Homegain, even Zillow getting in the game) that next great trend for web 2.0 services is a virtual land rush to cover your neighborhood, even your street.

Neighborhood Crossing launched this week (see Bringing neighbors together with NeighborhoodCrossing.com) by offering to help you connect with your neighbors online. The motivation behind the site? Neighborhood Crossing says:

It’s strange: these days, you can know people across the world, and not know who lives two houses down the street. That’s why we made neighborhoodcrossing.com.Our mission is to help you turn your neighborhood into a vibrant, well-connected place.

It’s a good pitch. In my post Niche Networks and Marketing Real Estate, I wrote how home owner associations or condo stratas could build out a social network of home owners. And I still think that may have merit as an interesting marketing gimmick for developer or builder. Especially if it were built on an existing platform (Facebook, Ning) that could be quickly scaled up.

Neighborhood Crossing strikes me as service whose heart is in the right place but I just can’t see it going very far. It didn’t help that I got numerous ‘Error processing your request’ messages across the site either.

Ultimately a successful web site solves a problem. Finding an good aggregated source of real estate listings online was a problem (still is, arguably) and the web gods have responded by giving us umpteen different options to choose from these days.

Personally though, I’ve never had a problem talking to my neighbors. And even if I wanted/needed to connect with them I’m not sure it isn’t something that couldn’t be accomplished with a Yahoo Group or even a shared Gmail calendar.

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StreetAdvisor, on the other hand, takes the neighborhood concept even further (see the post on Realty Thoughts) allowing people to rate your neighbors, the nightlife, noise levels, even the quality of mobile reception and internet speeds.

Interesting concept – I’m thinking of moving right now and access to decent broadband is definitely an important criteria in a neighborhood for me. The site is usable and designed nicely enough though it suffers from a definite lack of content. Nothing worse than when you go to a site and find nothing but the crickets chirping.

They were giving away iPods to stimulate street reviews – no sure that will help. They’d do well to seed the site with content, but that’s a pretty big challenge when you’re hoping to compile data on every street in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. It’s a lofty goal that might be better realized if they just focused on one city. How about Portland?