What’s it like in the apartment building at 311 E. Third St. in the East Village? Blasting music. Rats in the neighborhood. A co-op unit that sold at $449,000.
These insights come from Localize.city, a website that offers building-by-building stories of NYC. Localize secured funding of $11 million, and is part of a slew of companies aiming to change the experience of finding residential places. Others are Rocky Mortgage, which provides simplified online and mobile mortgage applications, or Jetty and Rhino, which let renters sign leases without paying security deposits.
A number of real-estate websites offer big batches of data on property and census information, Localize has chosen a different route. It employed teams of urban planners and data scientists to translate billions of data points into simple findings.
It takes note of constructions sites nearby, plans to improve parks, Citi Bike stations, and public gardens. There is a map-based navigation system to offer viewers more information about an area.
It offers warnings of high-accident areas, flood risks, and prices on short-term rentals, as well as data on public transportation. Algorithms generate the majority of this content, using data from a variety of sources, according to Asaf Rubin, a mathematician, software engineer and the company’s co-founder and chief executive.
Localize flagged the possibility that a partial river view at 180 West St., a four-story walk-up in Greenpoint facing the East River and Manhattan could be obscured by a high-rise under construction in the area. Rubin explained that this finding was derived from a model of what was possible under zoning rules as well as defining existing views.
“They are going over some things that people would not see any place else,” said Noah Rosenblatt, a broker and the creator of UrbanDigs.com, a listing, and data website.
However, Donna Olshan, a broker with insight into industry marketing trends, said the system was too simple, particularly the insights about typical neighborhood projects that residents tend to know about.
“It is great if you are 10 years old or under,” she said.
New York-based president of Localize.city a target audience is a house and apartment hunters Steve Kalifowitz said the target audience is people looking for houses and apartments. He also said the program would be expanded to other locations.
Another source Localize.city uses is hyperlocal news sites, where existing residents can discover information about their neighborhood. Localize hired Amy Zimmer, a reporter for the now shut down DNA info, which covered local neighborhoods up until last November.
“The company sees itself as telling stories, adding to the conversation of what is happening in the city,” Zimmer said. “The way to find a home is to know about the story of a home and the story of the neighborhood.” Zimmer uses Localize to produce reports on dangerous intersections near schools, housing violations, and NYC’s boom in housing.