Zippier dating

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2008 - 3:40 PM

A new website allows home buyers to compare more than price and square footage. Using ZIP codes, they can find out how many singles live in the neighborhood, too.

Tired of wine bars, speed dates, blind dates and those saccharine eHarmony commercials? Here's a fresh (albeit potentially pricier) approach to finding love: house-hunting.

A new online site, cyberhomes. com, offers shoppers a breakdown of how many singles (as well as married and divorced people) live in ZIP codes nationwide, as well as in your figurative back yard. You can parse out the male-female ratio, too, and the average level of education.

Spokeswoman Lindsey Groepper explained that cyberhomes is an offshoot of Fidelity National Financial Inc., which houses the nation's largest title agency. Using Fidelity's MLS listings (nearly 4 million addresses are added daily), cyberhomes can aggregate its own data, unlike other property sites that rely on public tax data.

That's a lot of potential dates, assuming you don't mind getting outside to mow your lawn early and often.

"They have all of this great information and figured they should compile it for people to access," Groepper said of Fidelity. "There are plenty of home valuation sites out there, but if you are single and looking to move, why not see what that neighborhood is made of?"

For fun, we asked Groepper to analyze 10 random Twin Cities area ZIP codes. As you'll observe from the accompanying chart, Lakeville (55044) is awash in married people (72 percent); St. Paul's 55104 area (Summit-University) features the most never-marrieds (49 percent), and Minneapolis' trendy Linden Hills has the most divorced people (11 percent).

Shoppers can find out more than that, though. Green singles, for example, can learn the air quality within a given ZIP code, and the average commute times to work for people who live there.

The site also may be a boon to parents of school-age children, who can find out everything from how many households have children, to student-teacher ratios and average test scores for the neighborhood school compared with state figures.

"The real estate market is so upside down now that people are starting to look at aspects of neighborhoods aside from just home values," Groepper said.

Greg Sax, communications manager for the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, calls the new site "awfully interesting."

"We don't keep that kind of statistic [about where singles congregate] but the website is a pretty good one and it is an interesting topic."

Brady Kroll, an agent with Edina Realty, hadn't heard of the site, but he understands the appeal. "I do get a sense from a lot of clients in sales centers that if they're young and single, they want to be around people at the same stage of their lives." Kroll, 30, lives in one of the downtown condos he represents and has seen singles move in and "couple up."

"If the site only said, 'Help me find singles in a particular neighborhood,' I don't think that would fly," Kroll said. "But that option, if it's one aspect added to a nice detailed profile, might tip the scales."

Gail Rosenblum • 612-673-7350

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