Whenever we entertain a potential purchase, there is a usually a considerable amount of research involved. If we want to buy a new camera we will do ample research on the various brand, type, size, quality, specs, colour, and costs of camera before putting our credit card down. Why is it that we don’t give the same amount of detail in to our research process when we look for anew home to live in? We tend to put our faith in to trusting the surface information that is given to us by our agents, property management staff or simply through word of mouth. It doesn’t hurt to be extra curious though - especially when you are on the hunt for a new home.
Have you ever tried Googling your address or a potential new address? Search-engine research can deliver noteworthy results to uncover the niceties as well as not-so-pretty details about a prospective home. The word Google has become synonymous with the daily necessities of our lives, so it makes sense that we should also Google our address, especially when on the prow for a new accommodation. We google everything from dinner recipes to celeb gossip to our newest "frenemy" in business, but there isn’t a subject that should tickle our curiosity more than our own home. It’s where we live, breathe, store our most prized belongings and become vulnerable and relaxed from the outside world. There is no other thing we should do more research about!
Here are some very good reasons why you should start Googling your address, here’s what you could find.
To scope out the street-view
If you have never played around with Google’s “Street View” function, you must give it a try. It’s similar to an augmented-reality experience, and we really have to thank technology for the advancements given to us as free tools. Google Street View allows you to explore the world in a virtual reality fashion - you can explore world natural wonders and landmarks, even step inside locations such as museums, arenas, parks and transport hubs! It’sis an amazing way to transport yourself to physical place (since we don’t yet have teleportation powers). You can get a very real experience of feeling like you are in the physical location just by simply typing in an address. This will allow you to view a street up and down, view the homes and buildings next door, and even learn whether the home you are interested in is surrounded by any of-interest points such as supermarkets, local stores, highways, churches,schools, and so on. You can get pretty detailed on your Google stroll actually.You can even scope out the size of your potential home, how close you are to other buildings and neighbours, the number and types of greenery on the property, a view of the front of the home or building, the intersecting roads…etc.You can also scope out your address from an aerial perspective, which is something that you can’t even do when you physically view a property unless you are on a chopper!
We should tell you that Google Street view may be outdated at times, so you could possibly be viewing images that are not presently the same anymore. Maybe the house that you are interested in has been renovated in the last month, or the new building complex that you are looking for move in to wasn’t yet built at the time that Google Street View was updated there - so there are caveats and limitations to this tool. It still doesn’t hurt the have a look though!
Dive in to the history there
Every building, every house, every place has a history behind it. The home that you are interesting in will probably have acquired some sort of a history as well,and since property agents may or may not give you the full 411, it’sup to you to be your own Sherlock Holmes. You can find practically anything on Google and other search engines nowadays if you know where and how to dig up information. All it takes is a little bit of thinking outside of the box - get creative with your research methods. You may be able to find out who owned the home before you, who built the building, what the home may have looked like previously, the year that it was built, and whether any noteworthy news had happened there through the history of time. I once google an address of a home that I was really interested in, and found out that the property was much older than the property agent had let on. As I dug deeper, I found out that the home had been in the newspapers before for a drug bust as it was once home to a druglord who ran a drug and prostitution business out of! I had felt that there was a negative energy about the house and the pieces started coming together when I dug deep within the archives of Google!
You can even find out information about the current owners of a property - a lot of information such as property-tax records and business records are publicly posted online. You can find out what kind of people your sellers are - are they big time investors or regular family who have lived in the house for generations? They way that you approach different sellers will be varied according to who they are. There could be a difference in negotiation styles and most people would be much more cautious dealing with an investor’s home rather than just a regular family’s home who are trying to sell. The purpose is different and you can find all of this information just by the press of a button.
To get imaginative about your potential new life there
There’s nothing more tormenting than having buyer’s remorse. One of the deciding factors for saying “yes” to a new home is if you can envision yourself setting up a life there. Can you truly live there? Is this the place that will make you happy? Whether renting or buying, getting in to bed with anew home is a commitment, which is why people end up staying on the fence for much longer than is productive. Seeing listing photos, specifications of a home, statistics, and even visiting it a number of times is not the same as actually moving in and living there. Can you really imagine yourself living there? How can you when you don’t even live there? It’s impossible!
Since Google Street View can help you scope out so much of your new surroundings, you can really get a feel for what’s it’s like to live there. It’s one thing to get a printed list of all the business establishments in your neighbourhood, but it’s a whole different experience to actually see the brick-and-mortar businesses visually in front of you. Imagine what it’s like to live there. Are you a fitness fanatic? Scope out whether there are any gyms and fitness boutiques nearby. Are there any outdoor parks you can work out in? How do you walk/drive to these different places? Are you a food-lover? Check out all the restaurants, cafés, supermarkets and local farmers markets nearby, and see of yourself what it would be like to actually live there. Spend a day and visit different areas of the neighbourhood, talk to local residents even!
If you have children, do some scoping in to the schools in the area. Are there any children’s playgrounds around? Are there any other kids living nearby? In the United States, you can even check out danger zones of an address to see if there are any registered sex offenders and criminals. Google can really be your friend if you let it.
To suss out potential growth in your neighbourhood
Especially in metropolitans, the rate of growth and turnover is extremely high. You should Google your potential new neighbourhood’s major streets to find out if there’s any permit applications that have been filed recently. You can really find out a lot from Googling your city’s planning departments to discover if there’s any plans for expansion in an area. You may be in love with your ocean view now from the 36th floor of a Hong Kong sky-rise, but there could very well be a new even taller building shooting up to block your glorious view in a couple of years! This has happened in history and will continue to happen. Will you be happy if another large residential complex or hotel is built next to your home? Think also about the construction process that will be happening if these projects are given the green light. You will have to endure construction noise for months and years to come. You need to make yourself well aware of these potential traps before making a long-term commitment. There’s a lot of developmental projects simmering under the surface that you may not be aware of yet but it doesn’t mean that they are not underway. Googling can help you find out all sorts of important information as long as you are willing to put in the time to do your homework. Your efforts could be very well awarded!
To find out how secure home and neighbourhood is and if your location couldbe causing harm to your health
The address you choose to make your permanent home should be a place of comfort - a place that you can feel healthy and secure. The last thing anyone wants is to find out that their dream home is located next to a factory that’s pumping out toxic fumes all day. What if it’s next to an industrial building that will drive you and your newborn baby crazy with the amount of nose pollution it pumps out on a daily basis? These are all big concerns and red flags! It’s crucial that your home is not a health hazard. Whenever you are house hunting, be sure to find out whether your new address is situated in an unsafe area. Not all agents, sellers and landlords will be honest enough to give you full disclosure and lots of people have had to figure this out the hard way.
Drug labs are an eminent issue, which is why Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)in The United States maintains a database of homes that have been identified as drug labs at one point or another. These places make for potentially toxic and health-impacting property conditions that Google can actually tell you about.Everyone has different preferences for what they view a healthy living conditions. You may be signing a lease agreement without full knowledge that it is next to a radiation plant, a new airport zone, manufacturing zone…etc -which can all impact people in unhealthy ways.