Idea Bar: Model for mapping open house traffic

Could MIT’s iSPOSTS project, a live map of wireless users as they move around campus with their laptop computers, become a model for tracking open house traffic LIVE on weekends in the future?  If so, who might benefit, who might be harmed, and given that, would buyers willingly share their househunting tours or hide them?  One example of a potential real estate use springs from comments on yesterday’s program about falling real estate prices in 2006.  If buyers and sellers can see the number of people visiting open houses in different price ranges and locations, it could be possible to make more intelligent decisions about how much buyers should offer for houses for sale, or how much sellers should ask for their own home.  Could such a system be developed today, using the same cellphone triangulation on of your previous callers just mentioned?

MIT Museum of Emerging Technologies Gallery exhibit entitled, iSPOTS:  Living and Working in MIT’s Wireless Community

It also provides information on exactly how many people are logged on
at any given location at any given time. It even reveals a user’s
identity if the individual has opted to make that data public.  The files indicate the number of users connected to each of MIT’s more
than 2,800 access points. The map that can pinpoint locations in rooms
is 3-D
, so researchers can even distinguish connectivity in
multistoried buildings.  A model which would serve mid to high rise buildings, and reveal demand and pricing premiums for floors.

MIT’s new experimental electronic maps track any "devices people use to connect to the network, whether they’re laptops, wireless PDAs or even Wi-Fi equipped cell phones."  Time-stamped maps are available to network users anytime online, and are saved for up to 12 hours.

Ability for a buyer agent to track buyer as they go from open house to open house; and for sellers who may be disappointed by attendance at their open house can see traffic flow at comparable properties.  Instead of waiting for properties to show up as solds or "under agreement," sellers and listing agents can view traffic patterns and hence demand every 15 minutes every Sunday. 

The identity of homebuyers can be hidden to the public (particularly sellers), but visible to their buyer agent and other family members, like parents who may be following their children’s househunt from remote.

More likely that open house tracking maps will be cellphone based rather than online access.  Ability to report location of phone call within 50 meters.  Like the MIT system, color coded splotches on maps could show the open houses with the highest traffic.  That kind of information could be factored into bidding strategies and negotations on the subject property, and pricing decisions on rival properties.

Questions:  Collaborative effort of sellers, or of buyers?

Open only to MLS listings, or any home regardless of source:  for sale by owner, foreclosure whether bank owned or government agency, and new construction.

Will phones need to be on, or will location only be trackable when a call is initiated or received?

Will phone communicate demographic information or merely traffic.  For example, it would be helpful to know where baby boomers are looking versus first-time, and trade-up buyers.

Would traffic levels be most valuable at the neighborhood or town level, or metro or regionally?

MIT Museum news releases states:  "The usage patterns should
  be very interesting, not just to the MIT community, but also to urban planners,
  architects, and city policy-makers who will be interested in the implications
  of the changing nature of how and where people work and access information."
 

Posted in Idea Bar

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