These days one doesn’t hire the kid down the street to mow your lawn without running their name through Google, Bing, Facebook search, pulling their credit reports, etc. Surprisingly, it doesn’t occur to many to do likewise with their current street address or even one they’re thinking of buying or renting. Here are some good reasons to do so:
- Verify your property records and home value or market rent. There are many online databases collating data from a varity of public sources which can be tedious to track down and access individually. Inaccurate information understating things like the square footage or permitted use could impact the price buyers are willing to pay when you decide to sell. You often will also pull up comparable neighborhood sales or rental listings, which could put you in a position to negotiate lower property taxes or rent. Finally, it can be eye-opening from a privacy standpoint to see how much property info is out there and how just having your address can lead to quite a bit of other personal data popping up in search results.
- Find crime data for your area. This one is self explanatory, though you should be just as cognizant of burglary info as the more notorious example of registered sex offenders.
- Detect scammers trying to rent or sell your house. If you have the typically seldom-occupied 2nd home, or other vacant property you’re trying to rent or sell, being targeted by con artists falsely listing it as their own is more common than you think. One case recently concluded in my Lake Tahoe neighborhood.
- Surface important HOA issues. Boiling point issues often don’t make into the official disclosures and newsletters as quickly, or in as, ahem, as detailed or honest fashion as they get into personal blogs or local media or minutes of related government proceedings.
- Discover existing or prospective neighborhood nuisances. In these days of massive government regulation one can’t build a doghouse without a year or more of permit process which will often be pulled up by a search on your address. Of course, a proposal to turn a shabby nearby supermarket into a shiny mega-supermarket might be a good thing, not a nuisance, but it’s always nice to know ahead of time.