Data into Dollars: Trulia Brings Open Data to Home Buying

May 8, 2014 10:48 am PST | Data as a Service

When Trulia co-founder Pete Flint searched for a home to buy, he felt frustrated by how hard it was to gather all of the information he needed to make his decision. Fortunately, he channeled his frustration into a new business opportunity – give prospective homebuyers more information about not just the homes they’re considering, but the neighborhoods their buying into.

Flint teamed up with Stanford Graduate School of Business classmate Sami Inkinen to create Trulia (NYSE: TRLA), a website with home data plus more for cities across the U.S. The key additional information that Trulia offers beyond square footage and heating details is largely public data but can be difficult to find. Some examples include nearby school locations, crime statistics, and transit routes.

A Rapid Success

Flint and Inkinen’s idea worked. Trulia, headquartered in San Francisco, started with a focus only on California then moved to locations across the country in less than a year. The company now has offices in New York, Denver, and Seattle and is expanding rapidly. The site gets tens of millions of visitors a month and is traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. It employs hundreds of designers, engineers, and business people, and has partnerships with companies like Yelp and real estate broker groups across the country.

Offering public data about crime, schools, and transit options was a novel concept for a real estate website, and Trulia presented it in a user-friendly way. Rather than sitting in spreadsheets, almost every bit of public data can be seen in an interactive map, such as bus lines, recent robberies, or the closest high school.

Trulia Site
Trulia website’s “Neighborhood Info” given as interactive maps.

And, Trulia is committed to using machine-readable data that updates automatically, such as data found on open data portals, so that visitors can rely on the data they’re seeing to be the most up-to-date data available anywhere online.

As Flint says on his LinkedIn profile, “We started Trulia to revolutionize the real estate experience by empowering people to make better decisions.”

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