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Property Searches

I’m currently looking to move house, and I’ve noticed how unbelievably awkward it is to navigate through websites that are designed to do this thing for me.

The majority that I have used fall at the first hurdle for me – they only let me search within one town. This to me, is completely useless – I have a range of towns that I don’t mind living in, lets say about 3, but on most websites, I need to perform 3 separate searches to look at everything. Only one website I have used so far lets me search within more than one town. None of the sites let me exclude areas of towns, or entire towns at all.

I’m also not fussy about the number of bedrooms that I have, or it’s precise price. Many of the sites let me “save” a property so I can find it easier in the future – but none of them let me “hide” a property because I am not interested in it.

Many of the sites contain small pictures of the properties, and many properties do not contain information on them at all, and when information is present, it is often out-dated (e.g. The property is often sold subject to contract but it’s still advertised on the site). It’s also very difficult to get from the search site to the agent’s website.

And yet, I sit there, trawling these sites because there are none that are any better. During my ponderings, I often realise that I could write a much better site, with better searching, and easier to use interfaces.

So, with my developer hat on, I can quite easily draw a parallel with another fuzzy categorisation and search problem – Spam Filtering. It seems to me then, that a Bayesian filter would be a good solution to this problem, where users are able to tune their preferences to properties within certain areas, or within certain price brackets, but also for the system to “look” outside of these criteria and suggest properties just outside the boundaries of your preferences.

What this does require though, is information. This needs to come from the estate agents, and be correct and updated regularly. I think that this would be the failing point of the system though…

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