Web Reviews: Getting There Is Half the Fun

These Internet sites will help you plan the best driving route and avoid traffic troubles.

July 1, 2004

Mapping Web Site Roundup

Yahoo! Maps & Driving Directions: http://maps.yahoo.com/
Rand McNally: www.randmcnally.com
MSN Maps & Directions: http://mappoint.msn.com
MapQuest: www.mapquest.com

As a real estate practitioner, you spend a great deal of time driving around town, whether it’s checking out properties, taking clients to home showings, or evaluating up-and-coming neighborhoods. But even if you think you know the streets by heart, it’s helpful to refer to a mapping Web site before your journey—or during it, if you have a Web phone or personal digital assistant (PDA)—to make sure you take the quickest route possible. Countless Web sites can show you how to get from Point A to Point B with the click of a button, but here are some we have found to have especially useful features:

  • Yahoo! Maps & Driving Directions has all of the same helpful tools you find at most mapping sites—namely, the ability to pull up a road map and detailed directions by entering an address, intersection, business name, or airport. But one handy feature sets it apart from the rest: the SmartView  tool shows the location of all local amenities—including restaurants, pharmacies and ATMs—in relation to your destination point. When you click on icons that represent those amenities on the map, a pop-up box displays the name, address and phone number of each establishment. It’s a great way for you or your clients to get a feel for a neighborhood and find out whether a property is near retail and entertainment before you see it firsthand. Yahoo! Maps also makes it easy for you to Create a Link to maps and driving directions on your personal Web site.
  • Rand McNally’s Web site is geared mainly toward selling the globes, atlases, and other maps the company is best known for, so it might not be the first place you would think of looking for driving directions. But maybe it should be. The site is well organized, easy to read, and has extra features you won’t find on other mapping sites. By clicking on the Get Directions icon on the upper left side of the home page, you can customize your driving directions (Do you want the shortest route, or the fastest one?) and then view a non-cluttered map of where you’re headed. Each map also lets you access local Weather Forecasts and Road Construction Maps to help you avoid congested streets. And if you’re craving a vacation, use the site to Plan a Road Trip. In addition to mapping out your trip, you’ll find Travel Tips, Places to Stay, and Things To Do along the way.
  • MSN Maps & Directions lets you map an address quickly and access local traffic, weather and entertainment information. You can save the maps to your PC or a handheld electronic device. When mapping complicated Driving Directions, select the LineDrive option to see your travel route without all the roads and cities not in your path. Local Traffic Reports are a great tool to check travel times and see where street festivals, car accidents or other incidents are slowing down traffic or closed off roads. Another good feature on this site, City Guide, allows you to search any town for travel tips, restaurant reviews, events, and weather.
  • MapQuest is one of the original mapping Web sites and still among the most popular. Why? Perhaps because it’s so good at sharing. On the site’s Business Solutions page, you can find out how to add a free link to MapQuest on your personal Web site so visitors can find out where properties are located. Or you could add Mapquest to your Internet Toolbar so you can search addresses faster from your PC. The Mobile Mapquest option lets you access maps and driving directions anywhere using your wireless Web phone, PDA, or pager. That could be very helpful when you’re in unfamiliar territory and need to navigate around a traffic jam.
Kelly Quigley

Kelly Quigley is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.

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