It’s amazing what you can learn about a city’s neighborhoods with free online tools. Trulia shows homes for sale or under foreclosure, Google Streetview presents quality curbside imagery, and in some places, private property records are available online as well. In Tampa, those show sales prices, square footage, and appraised value.
I’ve lost myself for hours exploring the virtual streetscape of Chicago and New Orleans, marking houses I like on custom Google Maps (Chi, NOLA). In some cases, these properties are for sale, so I can see the insides, get square footage, and current list price. Taken together, this is a great exercise in becoming more comfortable with foreign cities, and the real estate market in general.
It’s how I decided that Chicago is the most affordable of the top three largest American cities (NY, LA, Chi). It’s also how I came to rekindle my love for New Orleans (1st post, 2nd post), and better navigate its counterintuitive neighborhood hierarchy (expensive ones generally face inward, toward St. Charles Street, not outward, toward the waterfront, since levies and berms hide the water from view).
Sometimes I wish I could have 5 careers, one being real estate. The address above (1804 Magazine Street) is listed as a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 2,100 sq. ft., at $650,000. It’s a loft-style though, so has expansive ceilings and far more multipurpose space than typical “one-ones” do.
For urbanophiles, map geeks, or real estate nerds, these tools represent a wealth of absorbable knowledge and information for research, reconnaissance, and pleasure.