These days, most people wouldn't think of going on a blind date without Googling the name of the person they're about to meet. However, a lot of us buy homes and rent apartments without researching the address, and that can be a mistake. Here's why:

  • You'll find out if any of your neighbors are registered under Megan's Law, which requires police to post the whereabouts of registered sex offenders. Enter the address, city and "Megan's law" in quotes.
  • To check crime statistics.Typing in the street and the words "crime reports" will usually give you a map of recent incidents in the area. Experts say you should always check for criminal activity at any potential address. One unlucky couple mentioned in the article got strange headaches in their new house. Only to find out the house had been used as a meth lab by the previous owners.Even if you already live there, Googling your address can still help you out:
  • It can lower your tax bill. Many real estate websites list sales information by neighborhood. If you see a pattern of houses selling for lower than your home's assessed value, take the info to your local tax office to see if you could get a break, too.
  • If you're thinking about selling, type your address into Google Maps - and click on "street views." Google attaches cameras to cars and sends them up and down public streets so anyone can examine a particular address from curb level. If you discover the picture of your place was taken the day of your last yard sale, you might want to create a more-representative virtual tour of your address on your realtor's website.