Google Earth – a Helper or a Bummer?
My wife and I love to travel the world. Well, I suppose I should say” loved” as most of our world travel happened prior to the arrival of our beautiful daughter who’s now 5. But even at her young age she’s now been 3 times across the Atlantic and a few dozen times across the Florida border (primarily just across the state line of Alabama to visit Granna and Papa). But when we’re itching to explore new places, be it across the globe, another state or even some new places in Tampa Bay – we turn to Google Earth.
I’m still amazed Google doesn’t charge for this exciting application. Of course this is nothing like visiting places in person, but to get a good idea of the surroundings it’s a great tool to have. Google Earth offers several features that I really enjoy. Let me name a few.
1. Bird-eye view navigation. It’s very intuitive and if you’ve ever taken flight lessons or tried to fly a remote control helicopter you’ll be “flying” in Google Earth and smiling while doing it. With the help of Look and Move joysticks you can Tilt, pan, zoom, and move your vantage point in 3D motion.
2. You can record and narrate your flight. Want to send your personal city tour to a friend? No problem. Do you have clients from out of town? How about creating a quick flight video of the downtown and tell them a little about local real estate with some visual help.
3. 3D buildings. Awesome feature! If you live in a relatively large city, chances are Google 3D’ed most of your tall building and you can see their 3D images on the map. Make sure to check “3D” in the Layers menu.
4. Street View. Drop the yellow pegman anywhere on the map as long as the streets are marked with blue lines. All of a sudden you are out in street, looking at homes, buildings and parks as if out of the window of your car.
I think Google Earth is a great tool for enthusiasts and professionals alike. I personally have a good visual memory, so for me getting oriented in a new city is a must. Maps and especially 3D maps help me do just that. The cool thing about Street View is that it’s available on most smart-phone devices. Clients love it when a few seconds after I asked them for their street address, while they still try to describe what their house looks like, I show them their house in Street View on my iPhone and then their neighbors house and then “drive them” through their neighborhood.
A Little Bummer
But there’s one thing about Street View that bothers me, especially if you live in the area where seasons are rather defined (here in St Petersburg Florida it’s always summer!). I was looking at a residential neighborhood on Google Maps near New York City and it looked lush and green. Then I dropped the pegman and all of sudden I was in a neighborhood with bare trees, it was a gloomy grey day, possibly late fall or early spring time. So if Google sent out their fleet of camera cars to your neighborhood, let’s hope it was summer time and a sunny day! Try selling your house in the summer but have a winter Street View. Some potential buyers may be turned off if Google “drive by” is all they do. So, maybe ask your agent for a one minute video tour of the neighborhood on a bright sunny day! Put that link in MLS and other sites to help market your home.
Do you use Google Earth? I’d love to see your comments.