It was not too long ago when finding a house to buy or rent, involved numerous trips around various neighborhoods, using printed google maps to find listings and many hours of physical effort spent in just finding the right area to live in. Not so much anymore, with the advent of technologies such as the GPS and the virtually omnipresent treasure-trove of knowledge- the Internet.
What information does one need to make a decision involving relocation?
Rental listings do not include other factors that go into making big decisions about relocating, such as finding places with good schools, parks, recreational facilities, safety and many other such criteria that determine one’s quality of life that just based on where one decided to live. Arises from all that is traffic information, that one would only find in rush hour traffic. Realistically, would one want to get into rush hour traffic at every area ones wants to buy or rent a house? If you ask someone who does live in a congested area, commute to and from their resident could be a major source of stress. Perhaps, knowing about this would have changed their decision about living there had they known earlier. It is not hard to understand that staying in a place one already lives in is much easier than relocating and all that goes with it. Hence it is very important to find the right place to buy or rent property.
One can get the information online
In today’s world, one can find a lot of relevant and important information about an area, from the comfort of one’s home or office with the click of a button. How wonderful it is, that one could research houses in Mississippi while sipping coffee in Sun City, Hilton Head? Or find the rates for apartments in Miami before putting up one’s house for sale in Michigan? Most apartments have websites describing the kinds of apartments, rental rates, services etc. Not just that, one can access important information regarding aspects of potentially living in an area through forums such as the City Data (http://www.city-data.com/) (http://www.city-data.com/forum/). One can find out about the best schools, restaurants, jobs, recreational activities and also safety levels of various towns, subdivisions, and even certain streets. Here are some sites with information about schools and restaurants based on the city.
One can also look at listings on the map and look up the distance to one’s place of work, the various routes one can take to get there, the closest theatres, parks and so much more. For example, here is a Zillow listing of real estate property in Miami. One can explore the area through cyberspace from virtually from anywhere, Of course, the above list is limited and all the information may not accurately depict everything about a potential place of residence. But having some of that information is a good starting point when trying to find a house.
Find your tribe online
Sites like City-Data (http://www.city-data.com/) and Streetadvisor (https://www.streetadvisor.com/) can provide a user with facts about an area. But there is another advantage to these resources. Some of these websites also have forums where real people ask questions and share answers (http://www.city-data.com/forum/). Talk about being part of a cyber community BEFORE even relocating to find a community in person!
Is everything virtual?
So much information is potentially available online. Does this mean that there is no footwork to do physically any more in buying or renting a house? Of course not. On the contrary, researching online before physically visiting to search for a place to live, makes the visit more productive. Armed with information about things to check for, see and do, house-hunting could become much more fun than aimlessly wandering streets, looking for ‘To Rent’ or ‘For Sale’ signs at houses. Having thorough background information regarding a place, allows one to be a savvy house-hunter. It still does not negate the actual importance of personally visiting a neighborhood, seeing and feeling one’s gut feelings about the place and trusting one’s innate intuitive judgment before making a final call. For example, using the information on flood zones could be very important in making a decision about a property. However, not being in a flood-prone area might not be a guarantee that the place would never actually flood.
@@@ Hire an agent that is virtually literate but not literally virtual!
It is true that technology can help navigate the sometimes trudging path to finding the perfect house to rent or buy. However, when buying something physical, physically check it before making any decisions, only makes sense. It is also true that not all information on the internet is unbiased or even true. In order to sort the stuff from the fluff, one would do well to hire a real-estate agent, who has lived in the town and knows the areas thoroughly. Having done one’s homework ahead of meeting the agent, one would have good questions to ask the agent. This is also a way to distinguish between the good and the best agents. Yet again, one can find a good real estate agent at the click of a button, but finding one who would really suit your needs would involve good judgment and discernment.
In a nutshell, technology has transformed the scene of real estate buying or renting. Using the easily available information gives one an advantage, to make the best, most informed decisions and ask the right questions to the right real estate agent. With the internet at one’s fingertips, it is now possible to get the ideal house, idyllic neighborhood, commute and community one has always dreamed of.
Jobs, economy, and cost of living:
United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau – Quick Fats
One can also find out if a potential area is prone to flooding by using the Flood Zones information: