Terrific Real Estate Search Tools

The combination of online maps, satellite and aerial imagery and real estate have spawned some fascinating and useful search sites, allowing you to visit virtual properties all around the world.

With the release of Google Maps and Google Earth last year we saw numerous "mashups" that combine real estate listings with aerial and satellite imagery. Examples include HousingMaps in the U.S. and OnOneMap in the U.K.

We've also blogged about Google talking commercial real estate data source, CoStar, working together.

Google licenses most of it's imagery from several sources, including the USGS, which (anyone can download for free) and DigitalGlobe.

Many other companies, and even individuals, are working with the real estate industry to power sites that merge real estate listings, aerial imagery, and maps. Here's a quick list to a few others.

HomePages is a free service that combines aerial imagery and local data with real estate listings. It's a very impressive service.

MSN is also involved in the real estate industry. A Virtual Earth Blog post points out that they're working with LoopNet, a provider of commercial real estate data. Screen caps are available and it's likely that they'll be adding the birds eye imagery that's now part of Windows Live Local. Microsoft licenses this imagery from Pictometry.

GlobeXplorer provides a variety of satellite and aerial imagery services to both consumers and real estate professionals. One service the company released in the past few months is called Property Analyst, aimed at real estate professionals.

However, anyone can demo the service for free. The demo uses San Francisco County data. Look for the demo link on the right side of the page.

Funda.nl is a database that lists 75 percent of the Dutch property for sale and gets 2.6 million visitors every month. It will soon provide 15 million photographs growing it to 21 million images by year-end. Every inch of Netherlands viewable online, offers a profile of this service:

"Full-circle pictures taken at 20 meter intervals (about 65 feet) in metropolitan areas and every 50 meters (about 165 feet) in rural areas will show the entire country at street level, with satellite images supplied by Google Earth offering a bird's-eye view."

The local imagery comes from Cyclomedia, a company out of Delft Technical University.

Another worthwhile service comes from Skyline Software. Free demos allow you to virtually "fly over" and then zoom-in on a bunch of cities including Chicago, San Diego, London and Sydney.

I haven't read of any real estate industry uses of A9's BlockView street level imagery but I would think that in some cases it might be of value. If you feel like wandering the streets of Paris and other cities in France and Spain, take a look at the street level imagery from Pages Jaunes. Chris wrote an introduction to this service in 2004.

It's great to see an aerial or satellite image but in some cases you also want to know about the precise location you're viewing. TerraFly from Florida International University does a great job of combining imagery with local data such as census information, crime stats, stores and so on. More about TerraFly here.

And finally, although Yahoo doesn't offer any aerial imagery, property rental listings from Yahoo Real Estate provides maps with listings placed directly on them.

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