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These days when most people are beginning their home search they do one thing first. Head to Google. Beginning a home search online is pretty much the norm at this point and it’s where about 70% of Canadians begin theirs in fact.
However, when you are Googling around for those perfect properties you should do more than simply hit up all the listings. Once you have the address(es) of a few properties you like the look of you should use the power of the Big G to become even better informed about the homes that have piqued your interest, possibly even before you’ve seen them ‘in person’. Here’s what you could find:
View the Neighbourhood Virtually
Not too familiar with a certain street or neighbourhood where a home is located but have no time right now to go driving around to scope it out? That’s OK, you can tour it virtually with Google’s Street View instead. Not only does this let you see the home but also this allows you to view up and down the street, see the homes next door and find whether the home is on a busy highway or next to a local convenience store. All of which are things you may need to consider when choosing the perfect home for you.
One note: Google Street View can be outdated, so it’s possible you could be looking at old news. The house you’re interested in might have been newly renovated, but you wouldn’t know that if the remodel happened after Google was there. For a general overview however it is still a good tool.
Scope Out the Schools
If you have school age children (or even kids who are not quite school age yet) the educational opportunities that will be offered to them in a new neighbourhood are a big consideration when shopping for a new home. A home’s listing will usually tell you which school district(s) the property is located in but little more.
A little Googling around though can give you a much clearer picture of what’s on offer, from the way the schools present themselves on their official websites (they all have them) to gripes or kudos parents (and kids) may have posted on social media.
Get the Bigger Picture
What are the restaurants in neighbourhood like? Or the stores? Is there a lot going on in the community around your potential target? Is the area considered safe? What’s the ethnic makeup like? The Internet makes it so much easier to get all of this kind of information and from the viewpoint of a number of different sources, not just a real estate site based on facts and figures or a Realtor’s personal opinion.
Of course, none of this replaces the value of an in person showing, but as information is one of the best ‘weapons’ a home buyer can have in their house hunting ‘arsenal’ then a few hours spent Googling around in this way can only be time well spent.