Real estate and rental agents get into big trouble if they mouth off about a neighborhood’s quality of life issues. The most they can do is point to web sites that provide some general stats (i.e. school info, crime stats and market trends).
Now Trulia is getting deeper, a la user generated content. Three weeks ago, it launched ratings on 12, well-researched quality of life issues. Ratings are provided on a one to five star basis, and include safety; pet-friendliness; walkability; restaurants & shopping; parks & recreation; schools; traffic; parking; entertainment & nightlife; public transportation; community involvement; and cleanliness. Users may submit their ratings via mobile or Internet. So far, more than 140,000 ratings have come in.
Today, Trulia added reviews as well. The site is asking users to “tell us about the surrounding area, be it the neighborhood, sub-neighborhood, or actual block. The more local your knowledge, the more helpful it will be to another person! Do you live on the coolest block in your city? Tell us about it. Does your neighborhood have the best restaurants and stores? We want to know.” Over time, the site hopes to showcase its aggregated local area ratings, and reviews for every neighborhood and every block.
Think about your own neighborhood. Would you have been able to use something like this? I would have. After seven years, I have learned that my neighborhood is very safe, relatively pet-friendly (except for the lurking Coyotes), and has excellent shopping and restaurants that are nearby, but requires a car to get to. Other than dining, it has no nightlife. It has good schools through middle school, but the high school is in the tougher, adjacent town. It has very good parking, lots of tot lots, two pools and weekly block parties for young children but no other community involvement. It is also quite clean.
It might not be the neighborhood for everyone. Most of this would have been picked up by Trulia’s ratings system, which has been expertly thought out by its research team.