Google Street View is a great tool and a wonderfully useful piece of software, but I can’t help but wonder what consequences, good and bad, it brings with it.
Beside privacy concerns, Google Street View has the potential to affect property values arbitrarily.
The company I work for recently located to Portland, OR and I know that some of my colleagues wrote off potential rentals simply from a quick scan of the area with Street View. They made a decision about the fitness of a property from nearly two-thousand miles away. I’m sure all of them visited the place they finally decided on, but some places certainly got crossed off of their short list before stepping foot in the neighborhood. It seems likely Street View simply saved time by allowing them to select a place to their taste without having to do the foot work. Still, I can’t help but wonder how their decisions would have differed without the connivence of Street View.
The Google van drove by snapping pics of my house shortly after the worst ice storm in Oklahoma history that destroyed thousands of trees in the Tulsa area and there was still a significant amount of debris in the area. I’ve since then listed my house for sale and our realtor took pictures of our house for the listing. Our place certainly isn’t high-end real estate, but the crappy realtor photos are much more appealing then the gloomy winter screen on Street View.