Sunday, January 02, 2005

OpenHaus ( is an employee-owned, non-profit company/piece of software that allows users -- for free -- to search for apartments based upon what is important to them, and how important those features are to the searcher. Once this information has been given, a dynamic map is drawn showing locations of apartments matching the search parameters. The matching apartments appear as dots and are color coded in three shades: light green for "poor match," green for "moderately good match" and dark green for "excellent match."

A user will be able to zoom out to city-level and zoom in to a street-level view. The user will be able to define landmarks (work, school, friend's house) that are important to them and hovering your mouse over an apartment dot will show the distances to these points to appear as a pop-up. Clicking on the dot will bring up a more detailed drop-down of information.

Two symbols can appear attached to a dot.

If the dot has a @ symbol in the upper right, it indicates that someone else is interested in becoming a roommate at that location. Clicking on the @ symbol will cause a popup to appear showing you information about all interested potential roommates as well as a color tier showing how well their search needs match yours or if any known conflicts exist. For example, maybe you're bringing a small dog. One potential roommate isn't bringing any pets but doesn't want any in the apartment, either. The second interested party doesn't have any pets but doesn't mind them, either. Clicking on the potential roommate's name will open your email client to contact them directly and possibly coordinate a meet-up.

If the dot has a + symbol on it, you can click this dot to add it to your favorites. Now the dot will always appear in your search results as a blue dot even if subsequent searches exclude this location.

The goal right now is to structure OpenHaus so that employees will not make more than 1.5x that of any other employee and profit (above and beyond paying salaries and expenses) will be given to charity. Every OpenHaus employee will decide which charity will receive their slice of the profit.

In this way, we hope to encourage community-minded individuals to help bring the renting community an incredible tool.

Any criticism or ideas are greatly appreciated.

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