Posted by Jason Steele
In searching for a new place to live, my wife and I had a number of factors that were important to us aside from the obvious: price, taxes, lot size and beds/baths. The top three for us are schools, work commute and accessibility of public transportation.
We have children who aren’t of school age yet, but being in an area with a strong school district is important to us. So, like the web geek I am, I turned to Google to search for local school ratings sites and it pointed me to GreatSchools.net. This site is an amazing resource for comprehensive profiles with ratings for more than 120,000 schools nationwide and also includes unbiased parent reviews.
Next on our list was commuting time; I wanted my commute to be around 30 minutes. Alright, so this is sort of an easy one to figure out with any of the map/direction web sites, but I wondered how I could find out how long my commute would be at 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM during the school year. I have to hand it to Google again, as not only do they have the traffic overlay to Google Maps, but they also allow you to select the day and time for traffic reports.
Two down; one more to go — public transportation. My job may call for me to be in NYC from time to time so I wanted to make sure I live in an area with access to public transportation and with the commute being no more than 45 minutes door to door. New Jersey has a decent public transportation web site so I plugged in a few towns we were considering and figured out which would be within the 45 minute requirement I had. The one thing you can’t easily find online in relation to public transportation is the average wait time for a parking space at a train or bus station. But having a good local realtor will definitely help shed some light on this if, for instance, parking spaces won’t be available or built in a particular area for five years.
I have to wonder, does it makes sense to have to visit a different web site every time I add another criteria to my home search? Alright, so now comes the point in the story where you say to yourself, “there has to be a better way.” So the nirvana would be a site that could combine all of these data points on one map with countless overlay options. It’s what I like to call the “Uber Real Estate Mashup.” Every respectable real estate company is working towards search engine nirvana, but the real question is, “who will get there first?”