A reminder to use the tools at hand

The internet is a wonderful (and sometimes terrible) thing

The internet is a wonderful (and sometimes terrible) thing, putting more information in public hands than at any other time in history. Admittedly, that information isn’t always right, or timely, or necessarily easy to find but hey, its there.

When buying a property, a quick Google search of the address is often the starting point, with a number of free services (including realestate.com.au itself) now providing not only an estimated sale price (which can range from rough to WHAT?) but an often lengthy sale history including any and all photos of previously marketing efforts. Terrible, 3.2 megapixel photo taken in 2006? Check. Canary yellow kitchen back in 2012? If it was photographed, you better believe its there to be found. While it might be frustrating for a seller to have their home so readily viewable throughout its history, it can certainly be educational for a buyer, particularly when assessing renovations or changes over time.

For those that want to dive deeper than your search engine of choice, particularly in light of events like the December floods, your local council website can be a surprising treasure trove of information. Whether its poring over flood mapping, checking zoning to set up a home business and checking out overlays before planning a home with a bush backdrop, your local council will have an awful lot of free, helpful information on hand – particularly for those comfortable enough online to try out the available Property Report Tool. It takes all of 5 minutes and offers a great start for any buyer.

Jumping to the next step, you can also search development applications that might pertain to your property of choice. While its not an exhaustive database (you may need to actually use Council’s paid services for certainty), more modern homes will often have any applications for the property on records – everything from original building plans to extensions or other approvals. This is particularly useful when trying to date the age of a home or make sure the t’s are all crossed.

For all the information you can find online though, remember to keep the saltshaker handy. There are few qualifications required to post on the internet and even data aggregators with price estimates can get it wrong. With more (vetted) information on hand though, you should be in a better position when that right home does come along.