There can’t be many people who haven’t heard of Google Maps or Street View and, when it comes to looking for a new home, quite a few will probably use the simple online tools to do a little bit of research about the address they’re considering making their own.

The maps allow you to see how close things like bus stops, schools, shops and pubs are from the property and, if you use the Peg Man to zoom right in to Street View, you can have a look at the detail like how much on-street parking space there might be, if there are any gardens nearby that resemble rubbish tips and so on.

But not everyone will know there are also a few more tools which can provide information like how much development there’s been in the last decade, what traffic is like on the local roads – both right now and typically – and precisely how far it is to any given destination.

If you’d like to know how to use them, read on …

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME: Not many know that you can use the desktop version of Google Street View to examine the history of any featured address. All you need to do is have a look at the small window to the left of the screen and, beneath the address, you should be able to see an icon of a clock. If you click on it, another image box will open with a slider beneath it. Click on the slider and move it to view images of what the street looked like in the past.

It’s quite neat to be able to see how things have changed over the years but, if you’re looking at property, it might just give you an idea of just how much development has occurred recently. If it’s a lot, then it could suggest there will be more in future. It’s not always a bad thing of course, especially if it means local facilities improve – but then forewarned is always forearmed.

TRAFFIC BLACKSPOTS: Again, plenty of people will have used Google Maps as a satnav system but did you know, as well as helping with directions, it can also tell you what the local traffic is like? In Maps mode on your desktop, just click on the menu icon in the address box and Traffic is listed as an option. If you click that, it will show jams in red, slow-moving traffic in amber and smooth-flowing roads in green. However, if you’d like to know what’s normal, click on the tool bar that should now be open and change the option from “Traffic” to “Typical Traffic”.

Not only is it a useful tool if you’re about to set off for work or on a trip to the airport, the function could give you an idea of what your daily commute could be like from a property you’re thinking of buying. If there’s plenty of green then you shouldn’t be spending too much of your day staring at someone else’s tail lights.

MIND YOUR DISTANCE: It’s a bit of an estate agents’ cliché to describe a location as “convenient”. It’s a term which has developed as, when it comes to property advertisements, facts have to be just that. If you describe somewhere as “an easy walk” from anywhere else, you’re open to the question: “An easy for walk for who?” Not everyone is equally mobile and that’s something you have to bear in mind. However, if you want to know the precise distance to the local pub, the chemists or the post office from a property you’re thinking of buying, you can use Google Maps to find out.

When in Maps mode on your desktop, just right click your mouse and select Measure Distance from the pop-up options. All you need to do after that is click on regular points along the route you intend to take and the overall distance will be given in a box in both kilometres and miles.

We hope any or all of the above are useful – not just to potential buyers but also to sellers – but, if there’s anything else we can help with, feel free to drop us a line or give us a call. We’d be delighted to offer what advice we can both on selling your home or with the services we provide.

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