Google Map is a very useful way for international or interstate investors – the Google Map is a great tool to look for information and check out the nearby properties.
As I have many foreign investors following my blog – I would like to show some tactics and things to watch out for.
1) Listing Agents will always show you the “Best Images”- so you need to do more search – ask your buyer’s agent to take photos for you, that’s always a good point.
2) Neighbors – Look at surrounding neighbors and “virtual walk down” the streets – pay attention to the following:
i) Fences – many areas in U.S. don’t build fences around their houses, this is a sign of the crime rate – high crime areas will see fences everywhere.
ii) Iron bars on windows – another sign for high crime areas
iii) Types of cars – you can see types of cars on the street, this is a good way to estimate types of people living here.
iv) Go to search for image on local schools to see if you see fences or lots of security cameras around the school – another sign of crime rate.
v) Do you see kids playing on the street on in the yards – good sign to see this is a family oriented area.
3) Search for nearby shops – and find out what kind of shops are nearby.
I use the following words:
A) Nightclubs near…
B) Bars near…
C) Pawn Shops near..
D) Tattoo Shops near..
E) Junkyards near..
All the places where you don’t to be your neighbors. Once, I bought a cheap home (my very first investment), everything looked good on photos and later I found it is next to a junkyard. All these could be avoided these days by using Google Map (Google Map was only just introduced back then).
4) Look at Roof Condition and Nearby Houses
Check out on the roof condition by enlarging the Google Map – sometimes you can see them very clearly. I did a Google Map search on some North Dallas areas recently and saw at least 10 blue plastic covering, then I knew that area was hit by hailstorms regularly and needed to replace roof almost every few years.
5) Check on your neighbors – it’s important to look at neighbours – even if it is investment property. Pay attention to the following:
A) Garbage in the front or backyard?
B) Lawns being cut or falling trees?
C) Anything lousy or dirty at the neighbor’s house?
D) Cracks on driveways or the house?
One of my client is interested in buying a property in Ohio – and I checked out the neighbor and saw them hoarding lots of garbages in the front porch – and trees at back are overgrown – that shows this kind of neighbor is a lousy neighbour and do not look after their properties well.
6) Lots of people wondering around?
This is a bit hard to find out – but my partner has a good point. If you see lots of young people hanging out on street in the middle of the day, these guys are probably all out of jobs and have nothing else to do. Then this is not a good area ti raise family.
Once, we went to a Multi-Family Apartment, it has 50 units, we went there at 11am in the morning, more than half of the units have someone sitting out there in the balcony smoking, reading newspapers, chatting – basically killing the time and had nothing else to do. We later found this apartment has issues in collecting the rent as most of the renters are on benefits or have no jobs.
7) Nearby Schools and Grocery Stores
This is very easy to do – type in schools and supermarkets or grocery – then you can see a list and where they are located – this is a good strategy to find homes suitable for families.
I hope you find this article useful – please contact us if you need more information.
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