Judge a Property by Its Sound

July 20, 2015

House hunters are now getting the ability to judge a home in a new way – by its sound level – in a new feature rolling out to track a neighborhood's noise.

A new company called  HowLoud is dubbing itself as the WalkScore but for noise. So far, the new tool is only available in Los Angeles and Orange counties, but company officials are raising funds to roll it out nationwide.

HowLoud assigns a value to the noise level of a property based on a numerical scale, factoring in noise-makers like vehicle and airplane traffic. The company recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to roll out its prototype to the rest of the country. So far, the company has raised 40 percent of its $38,000 goal.

"We don't plant millions of microphones throughout a city. We build a 3D model of a city with typography, 3D buildings and roads, and model the traffic on those roads," HowLoud founder Brendan Farrell explains. "We determine the sound profile that a certain volume of traffic has at a certain speed, and then use physics to propagate that sound through a neighborhood, as it gets blocked and reflected by buildings. This allows us to determine the noise level for each side and story of a building at any hour of the day. We add to this noise from airplane traffic, and unique local sources, like gas stations, 24-hour supermarkets, bars and restaurants. All of this is then presented in a one-page report that includes a local contour map, and a graph displaying Soundscores for the entire neighborhood, the short summaries presented on our map online."

Farrel says that for home sellers, a property's Soundscore could one day become a stat like WalkScore, included on real estate websites to describe listings.

"They are our real target," Farrell says. "We would like to see the Soundscore appear next to an apartment or home."

Farrell says that HowLoud also plans to offer detailed reports on individual properties upon request and for a fee.

Source: "WalkScore, Except for Sound," Architect (July 10, 2015)