Zillow emails updates when houses hit the market, tailored to a shopper’s wish list.
Homesnap’s smartphone app instantly profiles a house with the snap of a photo from the curb.
Realtor.com displays homes for sale in the Multiple Listing Service in lists that can be sorted by ZIP code, price and property type, among other things.
Trulia’s features include neighborhood details about schools and crime.
With mountains of data on home prices and inventory instantly available, information overload sometimes adds to the confusion instead of streamlining the process.
One powerful — and authoritative — website valuable to South Florida home-buyers is the county property appraiser’s portal.
In March, the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s Office overhauled its portal at www.miamidade.gov/pa in a bid to make it easier to use and to add more information.
The county property appraiser doesn’t offer an app, but the website is mobile-friendly, so pages display properly on a smartphone or tablet.
“It’s an awesome feature,” said Lazaro Solis, the Miami-Dade property appraiser who took office in February after his former boss, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, was named Florida’s lieutenant governor.
Consider some features useful to home-buyers and sellers:
• Under “previous sales,” house-hunters can find what a property has sold for through the years.
• The website links to the county recorder’s site, which houses information on deeds and mortgages.
• Assessment information shows what value the county places on a property. Included are a home’s market value, its assessed value and its taxable value. The taxable value is the figure multiplied by various millage rates to calculate property taxes.
• Tax bills from past years are easily available. Buyers should remember that their property taxes will differ from the previous owner’s. That’s because Homestead exemptions and other exemptions and reductions in taxable value from the Save Our Homes law are wiped away when a property changes hands.
• “Comparable sales” shows what a property recently sold for in the vicinity of interest. That can be helpful in figuring whether a prospective purchase is priced realistically. And it’s vital information used by appraisers when preparing reports for lenders who are underwriting mortgages.
All of these details have long been available.
• The new website also includes added information, including, when available, digitized drawings of houses.
• The upgraded website also can search for a subdivision by a partial folio number, and even by square mile if only six digits of the folio are known.
“There is more information, and it’s easier to use,” said Solis.
• The county added information on actual square feet, in addition to the adjusted square feet that was already available.
• The map view offers angled shots of a property from various directions, and it has a link with Google’s Street View. The maps can show municipal boundaries and county commission districts.
“There’s still a lot of good things we’re working on for the future,” Solis said. Among them, he said, is the ability to search by entering the name of a subdivision.