Real estate agents are enlisting Tour Builder, an experimental Google Earth app originally created to give military veterans a tool for mapping places they’d served, for a new mission: helping homebuyers reconnoiter unfamiliar neighborhoods they might consider relocating to.

A growing number of real estate search sites are blending data on demographics, crime and schools to serve up high-resolution snapshots of neighborhoods. But they haven’t done much to help users understand the feel and geography of neighborhoods.

Screen shot showing tour built by #madREskillz follower @Realestate760.

Screen shot showing tour built by #madREskillz follower @Realestate760.

“I’d say it’s a really good [idea] for people doing relo to give potential clients a real good view of what a neighborhood is like,” said Jason Fox, a Bothell, Washington-based real estate consultant who won Inman News’ recent #madREskillz contest.

Tour Builder is still in beta testing, and you have to download the plug-in Google Earth to use it. To use the app, agents may choose locations for each tour on a map, and supplement those locations with photos, video and descriptions. Each tour lets viewers zoom from location to location by following a tour’s intended order or clicking locations to chart their own course. 

Agents could use Tour Builder to highlight local amenities, like parks, schools and golf courses. #MadREskillz follower @Realestate760 built a tour (shown above) featuring local fixtures including a zoo and aquatic center in just 20 minutes.

They could also use the software to flag properties, including new listings, open houses, homes they are going to show, homes they have sold and foreclosures, Fox wrote in a blog post explaining Tour Builder.

“If you wanted to take buyers out for a weekend, you could say, ‘OK, well, here’s six houses we’re going to preview,” he said.

Fox said that agents who add listings to their tours should link the listings to their websites.

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