One of the great features about investing in real estate through an online platform is the ability to access diverse deals around the country with only a few clicks of a mouse.

The advent of online real estate investing has given thousands of investors the ability to build a residual income stream through real estate, right from their computer. This has buoyed demand for tools that help investors do some due diligence on investment properties and markets from home as well. Understanding a market is one of the most important steps to making a smart, informed investment decision.

Fortunately, there are several resources available online to evaluate a market or neighborhood – that don’t require a cross-country trip:

1) Online Maps: More than a convenient resource for directions, Google Maps is a great way to research a neighborhood. If you are interested in a multifamily asset in an urban area, for example, you can map distances to key landmarks, view public transportation options, and see if there are grocery stores, restaurants, or other features that would appeal to tenants. Google’s Street View feature is particularly useful for getting to know an area.

2) Walk Score: Walk Score has a vast amount of information on every neighborhood in the country. Cities are ranked by their walkability and public transportation. Also listed are average apartment rental rates, housing prices, and other features like crime rates and notable nearby sights. This is a great tool for a high level glance at where an investment property is situated.

3) Online Sales-Listing Sites: Sites like LoopNet, Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are helpful for understanding current activity in an area. You’ll be able to see which similar nearby properties have recently been sold – and at what prices. While only Loopnet specializes in commercial real estate, the other sites can still give useful information on rents and macroeconomic trends in the area.

4) Market Reports: Market reports are a great resource for learning about the larger market trends in a city. Most of the major commercial real estate brokerage firms, such as CBRE, Marcus & Millichap, and Newmark Knight Grubb Frank, offer free reports that break down key findings for most primary and secondary markets. Additionally, the Urban Land Institute, the industry’s leading research organization, offers a number of resources related to the economy, infrastructure and transit, climate and energy, and planning and design.

5) Real Estate News: GlobeSt, city-specific Business Journals, and Bisnow are three of the country’s leading real estate news sites and can be useful resources for learning about the major trends and players in a city.

6) Research by Phone: Identify a handful of new projects in the immediate vicinity of the property you are evaluating. Call as a prospective tenant to find out rents. If you have friends or family in the community, call them to ask about the neighborhood and pricing.

Before making an investment, it is imperative to ensure that you are working with a credible platform that thoroughly vets, underwrites, and stress tests each deal before it ends up available to you for investment. Here’s more about our super thorough underwriting process.

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