Google StreetView for Apartment/House Hunting

We are trying to find a place to live in St.Paul, while living in New Orleans and Baltimore. This Friday we will actually be going to St.Paul to look at places, but we need to have a good list of places to look at when we arrive. To that end, we’ve been using some online services, combined with a realtor.

The advent and recent expansion of Google StreetView has changed this process dramatically. Whereas before we were limited to seeing street layout and satellite images in Google Maps with Housing Maps (a mashup with CraigsList), it is now possible to take an address from an ad and go for a virtual stroll through the neighborhood.

It’s a lot easer to get a feel for a neighborhood by looking at storefronts, cars, intersections, parks, and yes, even people out and about, than it is to do so by map or satellite. Some people are up in arms about StreetView, and not without good reason, but the benefits are pretty tantalizing. People are antsy about being caught on camera, but I’ve only seen 10 or so people using the service. Most of the time residential streets are empty during the day — everyone’s at work and school. The people that I have seen are generally just walking down the street or riding bicycles. However, I did see some people with police cars parked out front of their house, apparently discussing something with officers and several family members. I couldn’t tell if it was a burglary report, a domestic violence complaint, or murder investigation, but those people probably didn’t want the whole world watching.

Have you used StreetView?

3 thoughts on “Google StreetView for Apartment/House Hunting

  1. Amanda

    I wonder how many of those people and their cars were “caught in the wrong place”… Something you and I might not pick
    up. For example, a guy looks at his house on streetview, and sees some other car in his driveway, one he doesn’t recognize (wife is having an affair?) or actually sees the guy and his wife at the front door or something. Also, I wonder if it makes it harder to sell your house if the google street-view pics show the police there!

  2. brock Post author

    All you have to do to get yourself / your house off of streetview is submit a request to Google. That would fix the property value issue.

  3. Dan

    I’ve used Streetview in the past as a curiosity when looking something up on Google maps. Lately I’ve used it in my job search to know what building I’m looking for when I go to an interview.

    As far as privacy goes, the picture was taken from public property so as far as I know there are no restrictions on displaying them.

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