The other day, someone asked me: "do you know of a mapping service on the Internet that shows you drive times as a set of contour lines from a particular location?" I said I didn't, but someone could probably code it up in an hour or two on top of Google Maps. I just heard about something from Jon Udell that doesn't give drive times, but is impressive nonetheless.
The application, written by Paul Rademacher at UNC, combines Google Maps with real estate data from Craig's List, a free classified ads service. Paul's not associated with either organization and has no inside access. You have to try the application to really understand how it works, but basically, you pick a city and a price range and get a map showing the location of each house and a list on the right with more detailed information. Clicking on the location pushpin on the map brings up a balloon showing the picture, if available, and other information. Pretty cool.
I just read an article in Wired about how and why real estate agents typically work against you, even when you're paying their commission. The article makes the point that information assymetry is one of the reasons for this. Applications like this help close that gap.
Remixing Google Maps isn't all that complicated. More importantly, this is just another example of the incredible power of loosely coupled applications and the ease with which they can be created on the net.