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Investors can now get street-level views of real estate opportunities from the comfort of their own homes for free.

Google Maps introduced the Street View feature earlier this year. It allows users to get 360-degree street-level views of downtown streets in some of the country’s most popular destinations.

Street View was initially rolled out for five major cities: San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Miami. San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston and Orlando, Fla., were recently added.

A street in San Francisco
San Francisco was one of the first cities featured on Google Street View
Streets for which Street View is available are outlined on the map in blue. Users can click on an outlined city street to access the 360-degree picture of the street. From there, users can zoom in on specific buildings or view the surrounding area.

Street View has its limits, as not every street within a city's boundaries may be available. And while the photos are high resolution, it can be hard to zoom in on details out of the immediate vicinity.

While Google did not have real estate investors in mind when Street View was created, it does offer investors the ability to view some of the country’s hotspots without getting on a plane. Continued expansion of the Street View feature could also give investors looking for property in smaller markets a similar capability.

Street View will improve as more cities are added and the technology is advanced. Investors can benefit from what is already on the table, however, because Street View can give them views of areas with which they may not be familiar.

Although Street View should not, of course, be used alone to decide on a property, it can give an investor a good indication of whether a certain property is worth an in-depth look.