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Using Zillow's Creative Commons Neighborhood Boundary Data For the U.S.

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  • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @10:45AM (#44486241)

    It's been a while since I've seen a site go down before there was a single comment...

    • by reifman (786887)
      thx for the heads up - it should be fine now. This is the setup I run on my blog (http://jeffreifman.com/detailed-wordpress-guide-for-aws/) but I've noticed that sometimes when I get slashdotted in the initial minutes Varnish/Apache can't keep up. After I restart them it's fine under load :(
  • Zillow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @10:47AM (#44486267)

    Hopefully their neighborhood data is more accurate than their property value data.

    • by XPeter (1429763)

      Well what do you expect? Zillow can't view the interior of the homes they price, so they can only make an assumption based upon market trends and exterior features. How can you expect them to know whether or not you have new stainless steel appliances and mahogany floors versus only plastic stuff and dirty carpet?

      • Maybe Zillow should shut its mouth and not be in business then? If a real estate appraiser made uninformed decisions like that, he/she would have their credentials taken away and would be sanctioned under ERISA. I'm not sure that what Zillow does isn't a form of libel.

        • by Gothmolly (148874)

          It'sa free service; the advice is worth what you paid for it. If you base financial decisions solely on Zillow, you are a retard.

        • by rikkitikki (91982)

          Zillow does more for estimations than Bank of America did for my last re-fi. BofA didn't send out any kind of appraiser, just pulled a number out of their ass. And that number conflicted with the recently sold comparables in my area. Estimates from Zillow or appraisers don't mean shit. Your house is worth whatever the bank wants it to be. Upgrades you've done and condition of the house won't be factored in and are completely irrelevant.

          • Banks are incredibly dirty when it comes to appraisals. For the two houses I've bought, the appraisal magically came in at exactly my offering price, since the bank wants to close the deal and start collecting interest. On the topic of upgrades, it depends upon the neighborhood and how much they matter for a given market.

            • As someone who works in the (Australian) industry and is familiar with the various sorts of rules engines and automated valuation models (AVMs) in use, it's really not that hard to predict the selling price of a *standard, boring suburban house* so long as you have a rough idea of the land area, living area, age, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. You then index transactions/settlements on other properties with similar attributes and get a range of likely values. When the figure comes back "spot on", it's more like
  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:05PM (#44487195) Homepage
    Not being from the USA, it would be interesting to know what a "neighborhood" means in this case. Is it a legal definition apart from the more casual meaning of the buildings close to where you live?
    • by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#44487505)

      In older areas, a "neighborhood" is usually a self-identified group of houses in a given geographical area, that might or might not share a common construction history, but have banded together to promote their common interests. The neighborhood I live in [wikipedia.org] was constructed over some 25 years, with early 1940s houses in the south extending into the mid-to-late 1960s in the north, though there's now enough tear-down and rebuild that some places are brand new [zillow.com].

      In contrast, for some older neighborhoods (usually in historical areas) and most newer neighborhoods, the term is mostly interchangeable with "subdivision": the area was planned and platted by a single developer, usually the houses were built at around the same time by a selected number of builders, and there's very often deed restrictions that set up a mandatory home owner's association, which has the ability to create and enforce rules over the appearance and use of properties in the area. Opinions about HOAs vary from loathing to appreciation, depending on the person. With common deed restrictions and a mandatory organization that owners must join, there's a pretty strict legal definition.

      Part of my neighborhood - called Shoalmont Addition - was built at once, by a common set of builders, and have very limited deed restrictions (mostly illegal now, heh) but no HOA to enforce them. But the larger Allandale Neighborhood Association (an optional group with no enforcement powers of its own) claims the entire Shoalmont area, and residents of Shoalmont probably don't even know that's where they live. Legally, the ANA has enough clout that the city recognizes it and sends a representative to neighborhood meetings, and zoning correlates with neighborhood boundaries and wishes, but there's not really any legal definition when there's no deed restrictions or HOA involved. Indeed, a small area claimed by the Allandale Neighborhood Association in the south is also claimed by the Rosedale Neighborhood Association, and I think people in that area can join both.

      Two definitions based on the evolving style of neighborhood construction. Hope that helps!

      • In older areas, a "neighborhood" is usually a self-identified group of houses in a given geographical area, that might or might not share a common construction history, but have banded together to promote their common interests.

        Close, but no cigar, because neighborhoods exist that aren't banded together and don't have HOA's. If I tell people I live in West Hills, everyone knows more-or-less where I live - but there's no organization of any type representing the area. (If I say Navy Yard City, fewer people

        • by pipatron (966506)

          I suppose this "fuzziness" is why I got curious. I would have thought that the border areas would be too fuzzy to enable someone to release a set of files for it.

          Assuming Wikipedia is correct, it seems to differ a little depending on where in the states you live.

          • I suppose this "fuzziness" is why I got curious. I would have thought that the border areas would be too fuzzy to enable someone to release a set of files for it.

            They're fuzzy, but not so fuzzy that useful boundaries can't be drawn.... in my experience any fuzziness isn't generally more than a couple of blocks unless the area is very desirable to live in or to be associated with. (This happens on both the personal and marketing levels.)

            Assuming Wikipedia is correct, it seems to differ a little depe

  • by RenderSeven (938535) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:08PM (#44487225)
    It was released so quietly 5 1/2 years ago that no one cared. But form a new startup to use this old abandoned unsupported and extremely limited data, do some slashvertising, and... oops no one cares.
  • You call this data (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I downloaded the files for my state and it was all of about 154 features, almost all of which were in three HEAVILY urban areas. The states city/village boundaries (which are freely downloadable) consist of over 562 polygons alone. I am the GIS tech for part of our county and there are over 384 "neighborhoods" (subdivisions, trailer parks, condos, etc) in the area we maintain alone which doesn't even include the two major urban areas (Populations of ~20,000) in our county. I'm also having a bit of a time

  • Few people whatnow? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spasm (79260) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:26PM (#44487463) Homepage

    "but few people know how to integrate this data into their applications" they're *shapefiles* for crying out loud. You know, probably the single most widely used format for the exchange of static GIS data? Easily loaded into postgis or converted to whatever format you prefer? The only people who don't know how to integrate this data into their applications are people who have never looked into integrating any GIS data into their applications.

    • by reifman (786887)
      When I started Geogram ... I had never written a GIS app before and it took some time to sort out how to use the Zillow data with mysql, google maps and geolocation - this free OSS MapApp now provides working code for these scenarios for anyone interested in trying out GIS for the first time.
      • by spasm (79260)

        And sorry, didn't mean to imply that there was anything wrong with not having used GIS data before; it does take some time to really work it out. And quick-and-dirty apps like this one are indeed a good way to give people a way to play around (or even do something useful) without needing to know what a projection is or whatnot.

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth AT 5-cent DOT us> on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:58PM (#44487849) Homepage

    Zillow lies, demonstrably.

    Datum one: a house I know everything about, sold in Chicago in 2003. Real estate agent did due dilligence; a year or two later, zillow claimed it should have sold for 167% of the actual sale price. No, then neighborhood wasn't changing.

    Datum two: a house in the DC 'burbs, a month or two ago: redfin and other sites, along with the legal papers, show it as 1475'^2; zillow shows it as having 2650'^2.

    Zillow's market are scumbags who only buy and flip houses, not people who actually want to live in a home. Trust zillow's data? Not a bloody chance.

                        mark

    • by ckhorne (940312)

      Wow- an online estimated price in a bad recession is off and the size of a house as stated in county records is wrong.

      Therefore Zillow willingly and knowingly lies and markets to scum bags? I suppose two data points (one of them a computer generated estimate) out of billions is enough to draw a valid conclusions.

      • by whitroth (9367)

        Not that I expect you to see it, but you missed the details of what I wrote: the first *wrong* estimate on the house was in 2003, as prices were going up... but *NOTHING* like that in that neighborhood. And since one was Chicago, and the other the DC 'burbs, which are two completely different markets, and economic situations, it strongly suggests that their data is unverified.

                      mark

  • I've thought about creating a social game that integrates real world data for creating instant communities, but every mapping solution I've looked at requires you to host hundreds of gigabytes of image data, or purchase views after X number of free queries per month. As an independent developer, neither of those is practical for me.

    Is there a truly free-as-in-beer map database that actually looks good at, say, a 10-mile radius zoom level that doesn't consume hundreds of gigabytes?

  • I would be interested in people's suggestions for other free sources for national and especially international neighborhood boundary data. I've reviewed some sources but haven't decided on one to use yet.

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