I pretty much take it for granted that if you’re looking for real estate these days you’re using Estately, Redfin, or one of the brokerage search sites to search homes for sale. When you’re looking for additional public record information and neighborhood information, you might head to Zillow, or straight to the public record websites. In case you’re not aware of it, I’ve got a resources page with links to a lot of these pages.
Beyond the basics, there are a few other sites I’ve found that can help you learn about the area around a home you might be considering making an offer on.
One site that launched a while ago and has been slowly gaining traction is WalkScore. It’s not particularly useful if you’re looking at homes in the suburbs or a rural area where you know you’re going to have to drive to get to pretty much anything, but if you’re looking at in-city neighborhoods or urban condos, the WalkScore is a great way to quantitatively compare how convenient a given home might be.
Another site that can come in handy in your home search is CrimeReports. As the name suggests, this site maps publicly-available crime reports, including everything from assaults to what registered sex offenders live nearby. If safety is high on your list, this is a great site to include in your home search.
One trick that I often find myself using is actually on Google Maps. Many of the most popular listing search sites are based on Google Maps, but as far as I’ve seen, none of them have integrated the terrain view, which is one of my favorite features. On the main Google Maps site, pull up the address you’re interested in, zoom out a bit, then check the “terrain” box on the “more” drop-down. Finding out how a home sits on the terrain is a bigger deal in the Seattle area, with our many hills, than it might be in Phoenix, but if you’re at all interested in what kind of view a home might have before you go look at it, terrain view is a great trick.
What offbeat sites are you using in your real estate search? I’m always looking for new resources. I’ll add your suggestions to this post as they come in through the comments.
Full disclosure: The Tim is employed by Redfin.