According to a friend of mine the other day, who lives in Ohio, the property market is experiencing a huge bounce-back, with construction projects turning up everywhere. This is really good news, considering the huge damage done in 2008 when the bottom fell out 0f the US economy.
If you suddenly find yourself back in the money, and looking for a place to buy or rent, then the Internet is the place to go. Gone are the days of buying a newspaper, going to the property page, calling up dozens of places, only to be told it is gone. Now you can conduct your search, and do your research on the neighbourhood, all from the comfort of your own office (a.k.a. Secret Online Command Center).
Here are 8 search engines to make your next property search that much smoother.
I have this sudden urge to spend some money to live in Beverly Hills 90210. So I turn to Zillow to see what’s available.
According to the filters which breaks it down into “for sale”, “for rent”, and “foreclosures”, I can rent a house in 90210 for the minor sum of $50,000 a month. It comes with a pool though, and 5 bedrooms. For $50,000 a month, I hope it all comes with gold fittings.
Other features include finding the nearest schools to a desired neighborhood, a “rent affordability” calculator (add in your monthly income, and your monthly debts, and it will tell you what you can afford), a property value estimator (based on previous local sales), a search engine to find real estate agents, and even a section on home design.
Zillow also offers listings of pet-friendly apartments, and their iOS and Android apps. They have apps for everything ranging from new rental notifications, mortgage tools, and home design inspiration.
Heading to Trulia on my 90210 search, I see the prices starting to get a little bit on the high side. But that’s OK, because I am filthy rich, and I want to live with other filthy rich people. I don’t want to live with the proletariate.
It seems I can get a small love nest for my illicit smoking hot love affairs for $7.6 million. But only 5,269 square feet? Hmm…is that big enough for my lifestyle? How can I have my cocktail parties in such a small space? How will the orchestra get in?
Trulia has a section for members of the military looking for a place to live, as well as a home value calculator, a rent versus buy calculator, a search engine for real estate agents, a place to ask your questions, a Q&A section, and a blog. And of course the ensemble wouldn’t be complete without a glittering array of mobile apps.
A bit bored with the California lifestyle, I decide to go live in South Park instead. That’s South Park in Dayton, Ohio. Although I am pretty sure I saw Eric Cartman walking down the street when I did Google Street View.
Once you put in the area you want to live in, possibilities start popping up all over the map. You then apply the filters on the left hand side, and as you choose the relevant ones, the map automatically updates. The numbered circles indicate how many matching rental properties are in that area. Click one that you want to see, and you will see a box to email the landlord, as well as their phone number.
Your rental search is supported with apps for iOS and Android. Set alerts so that you can grab the latest listings on the market. With pre-filled Renter Cards, you can notify landlords about all important renter details.
I’ve suddenly gone off South Park, so instead let’s head for the US capital, the central seat of power. I fancy having a nice friendly power family as my neighbors, so I decide to see what’s available next to the White House. Then maybe I could pop round to Barry and Michelle’s for dinner?
But wow oh wow, Dupont Circle for $8,279? The price you have to pay to keep the riff-raff out. But for $1,800, I could get a matchbox! Move the sliders along until you have entered your exact specifications. Once you find a place you like, you can see pictures of the place, as well as a Google Map and Google Street View.
If you want to check out places on the go, you can use the iOS or Android app for easy viewing. Zumper even offers a useful “tenant screening” service for landlords, where they check your credit report, and see if you have ever been evicted, or convicted of a crime (including listening to Celine Dion).
Findahood is a UK-based site, and it goes in a slightly different direction. Instead of listing specific properties for sale or rent, it instead tells you what neighborhood would be suitable for you. You enter in all the important stats — age group, marital status, occupation, and so forth, and it will tell you if you should go live with the working class, or live the high life with the trust fund.
….and it seems my discriminating tastes have landed me in Appleton, Warrington. I am 72% likely to find what I need there. If by any chance my deadly enemies all live in Appleton, it gives you 15+ other options, and also explains how it came to the conclusions it did.
Families might have local parks and good schools on top of their priority list. A low crime neighborhood may be more important to you if you have to travel home late at night. The filters use statistical data from official sources to match your priorities to what’s on offer.
This one could really be described as a niche site, as it only deals with properties in London. But with London being one of the major capitals of the world, there is a never-ending line of people looking for places to stay. Whether or not they can afford the places available is another matter entirely.
Find Properly finds places for you, after you enter your minimum and maximum prices, and the area you wish to live in. It brings up possible properties, and on the left hand side, you can move the sliders back and forth until you have tweaked it to your exact specifications (2 bedrooms, kitchen, underground soundproof dungeon…).
You can even specify the amount of crime you’re willing to tolerate, along with the air quality you want (“I’ll take armed robbery and smog please”).
Find Properly also has a series of infographics, showing important information which could make all the difference in your property choices. Such as shortening your work commute, London prices based on the Tube line, whether it’s faster to cycle or take public transportation, and many more.
Although I can’t find any mobile apps! The social disgrace of it all!
Rightmove, another UK site, claims to have over one million listings, so if you can’t find something on this site, then you really are a fussy so-and-so.
This one gives you relevant properties, but when you change the filters on the left, the changes are not automatic. You have to click to update, which is a very minor thing. Enter the postal code (zip code) for the area you want to live in, then switch to map view. Use Google Street View to see what the area is like. Do you see burning cars, smashed windows, and riot police? Then move swiftly along.
If you are looking to buy or sell, the site offers property valuations, and price comparison reports. And you can set up alerts so properties which will appeal to you will automatically be sent.
Rightmove also covers two other areas – commercial properties, and overseas properties. With Rightmove, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile apps. They even have apps for Windows Phone, and the Kindle.
We end with one in India, which is important because a) we have a lot of Indian readers, b) India is fast becoming one of the major players in the world with a very fast growing economy, and c)….well India is cool. What more is there to say?
Housing.com offers all of the usual features, although this time for the Indian market (with a claimed 9.1 million listings!). However, they also cover hostels, which is something I haven’t seen before, while trawling through the other sites. They also cover home loans, and serviced apartments, if you happen to only be passing through, and the thought of another hotel room makes your stomach turn.
And if you don’t see anything you like? Then the site will help you buy a plot of land, so you can build your own castle on cheap real estate, just the way you want it, with your shark-filled moat. You can watch the peasants being eaten while looking for your second holiday castle on their iOS or Android app.
Have You Found Your Dream Home?
Your search could end here. Finding a great place to stay can be a long process or you could just turn the corner to get that stroke of luck. Share stories of your successes and strikeouts.
Have you moved recently? If so, did you use the Internet to find your next dream home? How was the experience?