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Landlords Beware: Google Street View Now Live in Canada

by Andrew C. MacDonald on October 8, 2009

Street View Introduced in Canada

On Wednesday, October 7th, Google debuted its controversial Street View service in 11 Canadian cities. Most of the concerns surrounding this technology are related to privacy, and while Google has taken steps to address these issues, some still feel that Google has gone too far.

What It Means
What does the introduction of Street View mean for Canadian real estate? Well, it depends who you ask. From the perspective of home owner or landlord, Street View means you’ll want to maintain your property’s curb appeal at all times. Nobody knows when a Google car strapped with high-tech video capture devices will drive by to update your area, so landlords and property owners beware. From the perspective of a tenant, there are some interesting new uses of Google Street View that could help you in finding your next place.

Property Marketing Impact
For owners who were fortunate enough to have Google drive by on a “good curb appeal day,” the service may prove beneficial. The Rentables is a website which lists apartments for rent and integrates Google Street View into each property’s listing page, a first of its kind in Canada.

This integration allows tenants to browse the neighbourhood surrounding a selected property. If the property looks good, this benefits the landlord, if not, it will do a disservice to the marketing efforts of the property owner or manager. Similar features on other listing websites are likely to crop up, so if you own real estate, take a minute to look up your address on Google Street View and see if anything was off on the day Google rolled through.

Got a Problem?

Google has addressed some privacy concerns by blurring faces and license plates. While this eliminates some concerns, if you don’t like something you see on Street View, you can file a complaint with Google. To do so, locate the controversial content, and click “Report a problem” in the bottom-left of the image window. For example, this owner may not want a burning vehicle to show up when potential buyers or renters view the property using Google Street View in Toronto.

For full details on privacy see http://maps.google.ca/help/maps/streetview/privacy.html.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Pavel October 11, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time! Unfortunately I can’t find myself yet

A few websites have taken advantage of this already. The Rentables (http://www.therentables.com) provides integrated Street View in all the units that are posted for rent in Canada.

I’m also very impressed by the picture quality. Even when you compare Vancouver to Toronto, the quality difference is noticeable.

Chris Davies October 24, 2009 at 10:20 am

I’m thrilled to see street view live, finally, but I’m not sure if you think it’s a good or a bad thing for investors…

Andrew C. MacDonald October 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

I think Google Street View is very positive for tenants looking to find Apartments for Rent.

For landlords, this can be a useful tool when scouting out new neighbourhoods for acquisition, or advertising properties in good areas. The main downside is landlords need to ensure the property is always looking good since the date of Google’s next drive-by is a mystery. Images are not real-time, so they may not reflect the current state of the property if it has been cleaned up or renovated since it was indexed.

Overall, I think the service is a useful tool for both landlords and tenants, but there are a couple issues for property owners to beware of.

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