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Real Estate Rubbernecking

Posted by: Maya Roney on May 30, 2007

Foreclosure vultures—before you swoop down and snatch up that property, you might want to check out what it looks like—and now you can do it without leaving your desk!

Irvine, Calif.-based Web site RealtyTrac just launched a new service featuring aerial photos of foreclosure properties. The technology matches street addresses from RealtyTrac’s database with Microsoft Visual Earth images. So far, almost 2 million photos are available. “These photos will give our users a good sense of a property’s layout, condition and neighborhood — key factors in determining value and investment potential — all from the comfort and convenience of their computer,” says chief executive James Saccacio.

Hmm…like Zillow, but, uh, more morbid. It has a breezy name though—“Realty Rooftop Views”— and in all fairness, it does serve a purpose. But I can’t help wondering what’s next. Maybe a partnership with the National Funeral Directors Association to track homes of the recently deceased?

Reader Comments


May 30, 2007 3:24 PM

Maya, when you write columns like this, you should think about how people who read them can get hurt. There is already enough pain out here in housing, with too many people who didn't do their homework or read the fine print.

There is just one thing you should tell every reader about buying foreclosed homes. Namely, there is no reason to do any less inspection due diligence on a foreclosure than they would do on an MLS home. If you can't have professionals inspect property and do title search, you should not buy any house.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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