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Our noise indicator answers, “Can I hear it from the house?”

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Brandon Farber

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You’ve scoured the internet for the right home for you, and finally, you think you’ve found the one. You attend the open house and start imagining what your day-to-day would be like living there. As you leave the open house and explore the edge of the neighborhood, you come across a busy intersection where a train has stopped traffic in order to pass through. The train’s steady rumbling makes you wonder, “Can I hear it from the house?”

It’s exactly that sort of guessing game that we believe home shoppers shouldn’t be up against. So the consumer teams developed a tool to help — our new noise indicator, released earlier this week. The first-of-its-kind feature among national real estate search sites, provides home shoppers with noise data at the property level, where others can only do so at a neighborhood level. 

We show noise levels in two ways — first, we display descriptive text about the noise level — high, medium, or low. Second, we have a noise heat map which lets users drill down to see the subtle differences in noise surrounding a property. Users can see the noise sources and the factors that influence the noise level for that property.

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The feature takes three sources of noise into account — traffic, airports, and local sources such as restaurants, gas stations, sports stadiums, schools, and more. These sources are combined to assign each property a rating. Because the new tool can display noise levels down to the individual property level, homes in the same neighborhood, same block, or even next door may have different ratings based on proximity to major roads, hospitals, or schools. 

As a team working on user features, we heard users talk about the importance of noise — sometimes saying, “I want to live where there’s good nightlife, but not too active so that I can sleep at night.” Other times the narrative was, “I’m looking for a neighborhood that is quiet and good for raising a family.” We knew that providing information about the noise of an individual property needed to be addressed so that users across the spectrum can make the right choice. 

While we developed the noise indicator, it was pretty remarkable for all of us involved to start looking at our own addresses and to see how the data changed for our respective homes, and that of our neighbors. For instance, when one of us input the address of our parking lot facing unit, the noise indicator provided drastically different data than for a street-facing unit within the same complex. 

These examples illustrate that data at the individual property level can be massively insightful for home shoppers. And knowing the noise level around a home is really one of our favorite parts about this release. Whether you enjoy a lively neighborhood or prefer the serenity of birds chirping outside your door, we believe you should be equipped with the information you need to make the right home-buying decision for you. With the new noise indicator, that information is well within reach. 

The noise indicator is available for properties across the continental U.S. on iOS, Android, web and mobile web. 


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