The Real Estate Navigator will be a web portal to search for homes and apartments and evaluate them based on location, schools, public transportation and other amenities. The problems this project will address is the ability compare several properties based on different criteria. Almost all the functions of the Real Estate Navigator are available in different web-sites, in this project I will attempt to bring them under one interface.
The user will create a profile detailing choice of towns, need for public transportation etc. The user will be able to browse the list of available properties and select those of greatest interest and add them to her/his shopping cart. The main goal of the project is to be able to make visual comparisons like locating several properties on the map simultaneously, compare bus routes, commute times to certain locations and schools. The user will also be allowed to enter notes on what she/he finds out about the property.
I am currently in the middle of searching for a home around Cambridge myself and for every home or apartment I am interested in I visit several web-sites and scribble notes on most of them. Very often I loose track of what I have found out and there does not seem to be a good tool to make the search process easier. On the technical side it provides an opportunity to use all the technology introduced in CSCIE 259.
The web-site will have a login page and the user will be required to register and login for the services, this will be done using the Java servlet technology. XML files will be used to store most of the data such as user profiles, real estate descriptions. I will be focussing on towns around the Cambridge area, the public transportation data will be similar to the data for xtube. I plan to use SVG to make visual representations of routes. The web pages will be in DHTML. The MapPoint Location Server (MLS) from Microsoft seems to provide the mapping and routing capabilities needed for this application. It has a free 45 days evaluation period. The rest of the details still need to be worked out.
I am still in the process of investigating other freely available tools/services that can be used in the project. Any input on services I could use is welcome. I will have more questions as I proceed with the project.