This week I am taking a major step forward in home search technology. It’s my pleasure to announce the release of an online map-based search feature on my Illinois real estate website. As many of you who have used my online property search know, the search I had available was a numerical search – basically, put in your requirements, and the system would show you a list of properties that met your search criteria. The downside was that many of you are looking for homes in a particular area. A simple list of properties gives you no idea of where the home is in relation to other properties you’ve seen or the areas you want. I have been searching for a solution that would allow my buyers to go online at any time of the day or night, search for homes in all areas of Northern Illinois and not only see details about each home, but also see where they all are in relation to each other.
Now I’m happy to bring you this solution. After lots of research into different technologies, I feel I’ve come up with the most advanced property search in the industry to offer to you. My new online search tool will allow you to search by two different methods. It will still allow you to search by criteria – number of bedrooms/bathrooms, search price and area. However, it will now allow you to search by map area. By zooming in the main map area, your display will be constantly refreshed on-the-fly with new properties as you scroll the map around. It will also allow you to narrow down your search criteria with a series of tools on the left toolbar. This means that you can limit the properties displayed to those that exactly meet what you’re looking for, and then compare those properties visually. Since this technology is also based on the Google Maps API, you can change your view to a satellite map or hybrid map and actually see what the homes look like.
Once you find a property you like, you can view detailed information about the property – a description, virtual tour, multiple photos and similar vital information. Just like you remember from my previous property search, you can save a search that will automatically send you property updates by e-mail as soon as a property comes on the market. I’ve also added a feature that allows you to “Favorite” your top properties, so you can log in and view your top choices at any time. You can print the property listing, convert it to a PDF and save it to your computer, bookmark it, email it to a friend and request information about it from me or even set up a showing – all online. The property photos appear as a slideshow as soon as you select the listing, but you can also view the photos in full-size by selecting the appropriate option below the photo slider.
While it was very important for me to develop a new visual search tool for you, I also wanted a search tool that had a lot under the hood – not just a bunch of pretty photos on a map. My new search feature offers plenty of home search tools besides the map search that will make selecting the right homes for you an easy, fun and interactive process. An integrated mortgage calculator can help you figure out an estimated monthly payment and the school and community information will allow you lean more about the area. There is even information about how close the home is to a grocery store or gas station. Finally, one of the newest tools available is an integrated Zillow Zestimate that will give you a rough idea of the value of the property. While many of these features have been available before on different websites, my new search tool integrates them into a single full-featured suite that will help you narrow down homes.
Another one of the newest features my search tool offers is an integrated Google Streetview for selected properties. On the property detail screen, select the “Maps” tab. A satellite map will open that shows you an overhead view of the neighborhood with the home you selected highlighted. When available, below this map is an integrated Google Streetview display that will allow you to see the outside of the home – even move up and down the street and see exactly where your selected home is in relation to the other homes in the subdivision. For homes without exterior photos or virtual tours, this will even allow you to see what the home looks like and what the other homes in the area look like.