Tuesday, December 20, 2011

6 Reasons to Google Your Address

With virtually any type of information imaginable online, it makes sense to do regular internet searches for your home’s address. There are at least six compelling reasons it makes sense to do so, especially if it’s an address you’re thinking of renting, buying or selling. Smart homeowners would do well to search for their addresses, too, and here’s why:

1. To See If Megan’s Law Registrants Live Nearby
There is plenty of information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Nearly every state that has a Megan’s law-­type sex offender registry has an online version that serves up the names, addresses, sex-­offense history, and even photos in many cases, of convicted sex offenders. Googling your address and “Megan’s law”-­-­ or even your city or ZIP code and “Megan’s law” -­-­ will turn up a quick list of nearby registrants.

2. To Find Crime Reports and Data For Your Home and Environs
City, county and state law enforcement agencies all post crime data online, but a Google search for your address or city and “crime reports” is most likely to turn up your local police office’s crime map. Or, you can check out Trulia Crime Maps for a crime map of recent incident reports for the whole city, ZIP code or neighborhood. The map is color-­coded to represent the intensity of crimes in each area.

3. To Detect Scammers Trying to Rent or Sell Your House
Internet scammers have taken to ripping off home information and putting together fake listings offering other people’s homes for rent or lease-­to-­own. They often list the home on extremely cheap and easy terms, then ask the would-­be-­buyer or tenant to please wire or send the deposit money overseas. These scams often come to light only after the homeowner or current resident notices bargain-­hunters checking out the place. If you start getting an inordinate amount of foot traffic to your home, or someone knocking on your door asking if they can see the place, you may want to Google your address. If you find a fraudulent listing, identify yourself as the home’s rightful owner and ask the offending site to take the scam posting down -­ stat!

4. To See What Your Neighbor’s Place Sold For and Possibly Lower Your Property Taxes
In real estate, the value of your home is largely driven by what is similar or how much nearby homes have sold for. If you search your address, Trulia will first surface some sort of image of your home, a map, the basic property details from the public records (see No. 5, below), and recent sales data for your own home before listing out the comps -­ homes with similar numbers of beds, baths and square feet near yours, and what they recently sold for. If you see a pattern of homes selling for lower than your home’s assessed value, you can use those comps to petition your county to lower your own property taxes!

5. To See Your Home’s Property Records Your home’s records online are populated from the public records about your home, which are either so old they don’t include upgrades and additions, or they’re just flat out wrong. If you Google your address, or search for it on Trulia, and find that your home’s description is riddled with errors, contact your county public record agency to correct them and edit your home facts on Trulia. This is particularly important if you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon.

6. To See Your Home’s Google Street View When you’re selling your home, it’s especially critical to see everything that prospective home buyers will see. That means checking out how your home’s listing looks on all the online real estate sites (yes, even on Trulia), checking out the flyer -­ even stopping by to check out any staging your broker or agent did if you’ve already moved out. One thing even the most savvy sellers don’t check out is the way Google Street View depicts your home. If you’re about to sell your home, and you notice that the street view is outdated, mention it to your agent, and ask them to make a note of that fact in the listing information.

© 2011 Trulia.com · All Rights Reserved

For Buying or Selling, it helps to have a guide that gives you straight answers. For more information on buying, selling, or renting out an income property in San Diego, please call Frank Rashid's cell phone at (858) 676-5250 or email him at rashid@rashidrealty.com. More to follow within the next couple of weeks.

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