By Louise Bolger
Here's a great real estate search engine
sun staff writer
About a year ago a young woman came into the office at the
Anna Maria Island Sun asking for help with a photograph she
wanted to provide to the paper for publication. After our
staff helped her out, I clearly remember her saying; "I
feel like I have to learn something new every day."
Since I frequently feel that way myself, I never forgot the
frustration in her voice. Well, I learned something new a
few weeks ago. Its not really new, but its new
to me and my guess is it will be new to a lot of my readers.
If youre a real estate junkie or just interested in
the ongoing saga of the real estate market, youre probably
already aware of several online web-sites. Realtor.com and
Zillow.com are two of the most popular sites available to
obtain information on property listings. Zillow.com also provides
a valuation search engine providing you with an estimate of
the value of your home.
The search engine I recently discovered is called Trulia.com.
Trulia has been around for over a year, but in September its
site was enhanced with many new features.
Trulia has three tabs to click on for information, Homes For
Sale, Real Estate Guides and Heat Maps. You can search by
city, state and zip code.
The Homes for Sale tab will furnish all homes in Trulias
data base for the requested area. If you ask to view similar
homes, you get sold homes as well with very detailed information
on property type, size, square feet, etc. The properties will
be mapped on a street map, satellite map or hybrid map with
balloons indicating where the properties are. Holding your
mouse over the red balloons will give you sold properties
and the green balloons will give you available properties
as well as the street address and price. The maps are part
of Google Earth, come up very fast and have a zoom.
The only problem with the homes for sale information on Trulia
is that it does not represent all the homes for sale. It is
not a reflection of local multiple listing systems but rather
a reflection of brokers who list and advertise with Trulia.
Nevertheless, if youre selling your home, all the green
balloons that come up over Anna Maria Island will make your
heart sink a little.
The Real Estate Guides tab contains community information,
income levels, schools, median and average sale prices, population
information and number of sales for the area youre researching.
There are nifty graphs as well as a graphic and blurb letting
you know if this area is hot, warm, etc. compared to other
areas of the country.
The third tab, Heat Maps is basically a comparison of other
cities in the state you choose. The state will be displayed
on the satellite map color coded based on average sale prices
kind of fun especially if you have a competitive streak.
Trulia also markets to the brokerage community, providing
it an interface with its personal or company Web sites using
Trulias maps and balloons for specific company listings.
As an individual you can sign up for daily updates for specific
locations sent to your e-mail address.
None of these web-sites are meant to be the final word on
property values. Rather they are just one more piece of the
real estate puzzle meant to provide detailed information and
hard data to help you make an informed decision. Unfortunately,
for my friend from a year ago, in todays world you do
have to learn something new every day, and chances are what
you learned today will be different tomorrow.