Category Archives: Technology

Photosphere and Hyperlapse – Two Interesting Tools

Google have released a new tool that further enables users (us) to help them map the world. Photosphere was just released for the iPhone (it's been available on Android for a while) and it's quite remarkable. I'm not sure just how useful it is, but it's mighty interesting. Photosphere will certainly help me detail for my out of town/country clients, but I don't know if it's any better than video, despite the higher resolution.

Curious? This is a photosphere I took of the new Lochlyn Hill neighborhood, currently under construction.

Hyperlapse by Instagram/Facebook is different, exciting - and differently useful. In comparison to the static, 360º images provided by the Photosphere app, Hyperlapse has been described as "a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand." I see great potential for Hyperlapse for telling stories - the stories that make a city, an area, a neighborhood, a street - compelling.

Interesting times, and with the new iPhones being released with seemingly infinitely more powerful processors, I think we'll be seeing an a lot more Hyperlapses and Photospheres.    

An example - Downtown Crozet is in the midst of Streetscaping right now ...

Posted in General Real Estate, Technology | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Instagramming More than a Flyover

I'm working with some folks now who are contemplating from afar a move to Charlottesville. Years ago, I would go out and take pictures of their As part of their process, they're doing "flyovers" in Google and Bing to get a better sense of the area (as many buyers are wont to do). But … these respective Street Views don't offer the flavor of an area … But Instagram does.

Check out "The Beat, a new project from the Rutgers Social Media Information Lab" … better yet, see if you can get a sense of Charlottesville from The Beat.

As the commenter at The Atlantic says, if the geolocation of the Instagram photos gets more accurate, this would be truly, truly useful.

Update 6 December 2012: This post is already outdated, as I suspect that Instagram will be less useful now that Instagram (Facebook) have decided to "prevent its images from showing properly on Twitter's website and clients" - as I said on G+, The silo-ing of social media is distressing. and leads me to invest less and less in these channels. I so wish Flickr hadn't failed on mobile so miserably.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

C’Mon, Apple. Real Estate Agents Need Property Boundaries

How will I show land without parcel boundaries on my phone?!

There's been a lot of discussion about the new Apple maps, which will be replacing Google maps on the next iPhone.

apple maps

This isn't enough to switch back to an Android device from my iPhone 4S, but it's significant. In the nearly-three-years since Google integrated Albemarle County's property boundaries as one of its layers, I've become quite dependent on this extremely useful feature.

Gizmodo did a nice side-by-side comparison of Google Maps vs Apple Maps, but they left out one thing that I use in my real estate practice multiple times a week - real estate parcels.

I saw some discussion about it last week in my Twitter stream, and asked for some help on Google+

Anyone with access to iOS 6 - can you tell me if the new apple maps have parcel boundaries as the google maps do? I need and use those to show property - in subdivisions and when showing raw land.

And thankfully got an answer pretty quickly from a friend.

Note the difference between these two photos? iOS5 has property parcel boundaries, while iOS6 doesn't.

Google maps with parcels on iPhone 4s

Apple maps without parcels on iOS6

While I wouldn't advise my client to accept these boundaries in lieu of a survey, they are usually accurate enough when walking land or lots, particularly when walking county/country properties where "natural" boundaries such as power or telephone poles aren't visible.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zillow’s Offering Blogs and Real Estate Search. So What?

Not much has changed since 2007 - real estate search is *still* fragmented. And if you're searching for homes for sale in Charlottesville, read this first.

In 2007 and 2008, not many real estate agents (relatively) had blogs or real estate search; now, seemingly everyone does - and the battle between the big three -, Zillow and Trulia remains as fierce as ever. So today's news that Zillow is going to be offering cheap wordpress sites with real estate search is yet another sign that real estate listings are a commodity, accessible by almost everyone … and when something is everywhere, its value is diminished.

The one thing that hasn't changed is that real estate agents are always looking for the next silver bullet that will make them successful and profitable without having to work. Hard. Zillow's going for the masses - good for them.

My first reaction to reading this news was, "thank goodness I have something on my site besides listings." Everyone and every product is seeking to differentiate itself. If everyone has real estate search, that differentiation is going to be harder to achieve.

So, my reaction to the "Zillow is offering blogs with real estate search" news is a combination of "so what" and "good for them."

I'll keep doing what I'm doing and represent my clients to the best of my ability. With or without listings on my blog.

Posted in Charlottesville, General Real Estate, Technology | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Search for Homes in Charlottesville by Radius (Proximity)

It's not often that I get super-excited by real estate search and technology anymore; the last time I got excited was's app. And sometimes implementing simplicity is brilliant

Diverse Solutions provides the "search for homes" tool that so many people use, and yesterday it got even better with their new release (researching this post, I realized that it's only been a couple months since their last release).

- Radius search - check it out now! Walkability and proximity to stuff are two of the most important things my buyer clients are asking for.

- Search with polygons (only available on the backend by me for now … what polygons do you want?) and I imagine that soon it will likely be available to users

- Driving Directions

(have you seen that you can search for open houses as well? It's an older feature but mighty useful!)

I have long wanted to provide the best real estate search tool in the Charlottesville area for my readers, visitors, buyers, etc - my role is a client representative, and I firmly believe that by empowering my clients, we all are better off. Soon I might do a voice-over, but you really don't want to listen to me, do you?

I'll be testing this out myself (and implementing it more widely shortly)

Posted in Technology | 2 Comments

Choose Your (Social) Friends Wisely – They Could Affect Your Ability to Buy a House

Be warned. Could the time come when "what is your Facebook password" is one of the questions on your loan application? Beta Beat has an extremely alarming story:
But there’s a nightmare scenario: if banks learn how to use social media, they could gather information they aren’t allowed to ask for on a credit application—including race, marital status and receipt of public assistance—or worse, to redline segments of the social graph. In other words: choose your online friends wisely, for they may one day determine your APR.
And if you don't have a Facebook account? Maybe you won't even be considered for a loan.
Posted in General Real Estate, Technology | 1 Comment

After Nearly Two Weeks with My Nexus, The Verdict is …

I love technology (when it works and adds value to my life - work and personal)

I had a Droid Pro. I really liked it, particularly the keyboard. Now I've gone Nexus. Galaxy, that is.

Pros -

- The screen is fantastic.

- It's fast. Very, very fast.

- Folders are very useful.

- The panoramic feature is easy and extremely useful. The camera itself is very fast.

- The phone itself feels good in my pocket and hand. Not too light, not too heavy.

Cons -

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Albemarle County Could Get 4G Mobile Service

While the internet is the new infrastructure, mobile infrastructure is crucial. I've had clients in the Charlottesville - Albemarle area choose to not buy property because 1) hard-wired internet accessibility - fiber (very limited), or DSL or cable - is not available and/or 2) Reliable cell phone service is not available (GSM AT&T and T-Mobile) tends to be worse than CDMA - US Cellular, nTelos, Verizon, Sprint).

Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that "The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has voted to pay a consultant to determine if the county’s existing policy on cell towers will impede implementation of the next generation of wireless communications services."

Infrastructure - wired and wireless is crucial for quality of life, competitiveness and economic development. Let's hope the County figures this out.

Posted in Albemarle, Politics, Technology | Tagged , | 3 Comments