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By John Carroll
Story Published: Nov 19, 2014 at 11:49 PM PST

Shopping for a house in San Diego County can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with the area’s many cities and neighborhoods. But now, one San Diego Realtor has solved that problem with an innovative idea.

“We’ve tried to see all the neighborhoods and hunt the neighborhoods, but hopefully we’ll get a new view and have some fun,” said former Austin, Texas, resident Barrett Garrison, as he prepared to board a helicopter.

For Barrett and his wife, Mary Jo, that “new view” is from above. The couple recently relocated to San Diego. They knew they wanted to be close to good schools and not too far from Barrett’s work in Sorrento Valley.

“We’d love to see what’s out there and an aerial view I’m sure gives you much better perspective,” said Mary Jo Garrison.

Prior to boarding a Bell helicopter at Gillespie Field, Barrett said, “I’m hoping to see why certain areas of town are so much more valuable than others. You know, why is that piece of real estate so much more than the one just four miles down the road. So I’m excited to see kind of the value comparison, and I’m hoping Seth can take us through that while we’re up in the air.”

“Seth” is Pacific/Sotheby’s Realtor Seth O’Byrne.

“When you’re on the street, you can see about 10 feet above you and right at eye level, you’re missing a lot of the picture, so yes it really helps people make that first decision of where they want to hone in on,” O’Byrne said.

Especially with buyers from out of town.

“If you’re coming out from Arizona or if you’re coming out from Seattle, you might only have two or three days to make a decision, so it’s important that we can shorten that learning curve for our clients,” he said.

O’Byrne does not charge for the helicopter service. He said his love for San Diego is part of the reason he pays to take clients up in a helicopter.

“I sort of feel like I’m running a political campaign for San Diego’s future because the more passionate you can get people about San Diego, the more people and businesses we can get to move to San Diego and invest in our county,” he said.

And O’Byrne said going aloft is about more than covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

“You really need to see San Diego as it lives and breathes. You need to see the traffic. You need to see people walking along the beaches, it’s really important to understand where the new development is,” he said.

Back on Terra Firma, the Garrisons were all smiles.

“It was an incredible perspective, a lot of fun,” Barrett Garrison said, after the couple landed.

“It was amazing. We had such a great time. What an experience and what a thrill to be flying along the coastline and see all those different houses, just amazing,” said Mary Jo.

Out of all those different houses, the Garrisons chose one in Carmel Valley, first spotted high above San Diego, just right for them and their two boys.

If you’re interested in the helicopter service, you can contact Seth O’Byrne at