Where do your characters live?
The following sources provide information about availability and pricing for housing, by geographic area within the United States, for the most common categories: single family houses, condominiums, cooperatives, and apartments in high rise, low rise, and multifamily buildings:
A goldmine of current property data, Realtor.com contains the listings of real estate brokerage firms across the United States that participate in state multiple listing services.
Searchable by specific address, street, citywide, and statewide, with further breakdowns by price range, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, the database contains:
- Asking prices for homes, condominiums, cooperatives, and land lots currently for sale
- Selling price of recently sold properties
- Monthly rental fee of properties for rent.
Most listings include exterior and interior photos of properties, and details about square footage, age, and taxes.
The “Local” heading, located at the top of the screen, links to a variety of demographic
information by city, including average property sales price, crime rate, household income, and educational attainment.
Zillow also contains prices for properties for sale or rent, although that information is not as comprehensive as Realtor.com.
The best feature of Zillow: its history of sales prices for specific properties. Plug in an address to retrieve the sales price going back roughly ten years. It also estimates the property’s sale and rental price in the current market.
I’ve searched addresses similar to the type and location of my fictional characters, to get a ten year economic perspective of the neighborhood, whether property values have improved or declined.
Zillow obtains its data from transaction data, so if a state or jurisdiction does not make its property records available in a manner accessible to Zillow, that info won’t be available in this database.
For characters who’d rather reside somewhere other than a house or apartment, consult the following for info about alternative choices:
Thomas Backlund, a Swedish man, quit his job to live and work in a tent.