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Thu, 06 Nov 2014

house hunting for geeks

Write a scraper that generates a feed you can subscribe to.

If you ever need to explain to someone why being able to program is useful then an unpacked version of that sentence is likely to do it. As more and more estate agency sites offer to sen you emails or generate feeds of searches it's going to seem a less useful skill but it's not. The joy of being able to write your own thing to aggregate any sort of data is you can control what and how it aggregates.

When we were house hunting the scraper I wrote was pretty crude in that it just used price and location to whittle the list down. However as we were looking in one small town that was enough to reduce it to a manageable amount of information. What the scraper did do that was more useful was it aggregated the information from several different sites and then distilled that into an easily scannable format:

Lawmill Gardens, St Andrews, Fife KY16 : 225000                                 
http://tinyurl.com/cl84a24                                                      
   Lawmill Gardens, St Andrews, Fife KY16, Property for sale - 3                
      bedrooms : Offers over £225,000

Given that only one or two a day turned up it was very easy to scan them, see which ones looked interesting and then click on the URL.

posted at: 21:04 #

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