Have you seen the relatively new web site Zillow.com? It is a pretty neat marriage of Google Maps-style satellite imagery with real estate home valuations. You can enter anyone's address and instantly see an aerial view of their neighborhood with estimated home values above each house. For any property, you can drill down and see specific information such as the previously assessed value and past sale prices.
You can also see graphs of a home's value compared with the values of other homes in the same zip code. It is a good way to get a feel for the market fluctuations. An article in today's LA Times said, however, that you can't always trust the data on this web site. Nevertheless, it is fun to browse through neighborhoods and see how the prices vary from block to block.
It would be cool if Zillow added a view that was kind of like a topographic elevation map, but for home values - the kind where lines that are closer together indicate areas of higher value.
Try it for you, your friends, co-workers, relatives, etc. It is interesting to see what people paid and what their homes are worth now.