With all the properties for sale no one has time to see them all. And in today’s sellers market, buyers need to research properties quickly. Whether you’ve not seen the property yet, or are looking to do supplementary research, there is a wealth of information online at your fingertips that you should take advantage of. Online maps can give a good preview of a home, and allow you a view from a different angle than you can get on the ground. First we’ll give a list of questions you might want to consider answering, and list the online properties available that best help to answer these questions.
Here are some questions mapping tools might be able to help answer:
- How far away is the home from other points of interest – your workplace, friends/family houses, school.
- What community infrastructure features are around – parks, transit, police, fire
- What condition does the house appear to be in; is the roof recent
- How large is the yard, what is the property configuration
- How is the landscaping (overgrown or tasteful); are there lots of trees on the property
- What is the parking situation
- Who are the neighbors, what do their homes look like; how much space between neighbors homes
- Is the house on flat ground or on a hill
- How close together are the homes
Google Maps has many features to enable a quick look at the home. Street View, where available allows you the experience of walking down the street and panning around to not only see what the home in question looks like but neighbor homes as well. Satellite View allows you to see how densely forested the area is. Google Maps also offers a Terrain view that, like a topographical map, allows one to see the relative terrain of the area (say for example that you want a home with a flat yard).
Bing Maps offers lots of the same functionality as Google Maps. At times, their street view has coverage where Google’s doesn’t and vice-versa, so it’s a good idea to check both. BIng maps has a feature that’s absolutely worth consulting it for, Birds Eye View map. Bird’s Eye allows you to see highly detailed view at an angle. Using the buttons to rotate the view in 90 degree increments allows you to see all sides of the house and yard – a very different experience than the typical overhead map view.
Trulia has much of the same mapping functionality as Bing Maps and Google Maps. A helpful additional feature they offer is a commute time heatmap. You drag the pointer to your work location and the map updates to show the respective commute times depending on possible home locations. A very valuable resource to determine the communities to consider given a desired commuting range.