If you’ve not yet used HotPads the you’re truly missing out. Not only is it one of the most impressive housing finders we’ve used, it’s also impressed us enough to land in our 10 DC Startups list. The basic idea is that HotPads will let you see, on a map, the houses that meet your search criteria. How that map is organized has just gotten a lot more useful.

If you’ve ever wanted to find out for certain whether there was a bargain available in a specific part of town, the new visualization from HotPads can help you do just that. With color-coded markers, the site will now tell you the value per bedroom for each property that you’re looking for.

Screen shot 2011 02 24 at 2.53.20 PM 520x373 HotPads gets colorful to help you find the best housing values

As you can see on the map, the color codes work like a heat index. Better values are in the cooler blue and green tones, while more expensive options will wander into the yellows and reds. What’s interesting to see about it is that you can very easily spot a great deal that might otherwise have slipped your attention.

As in the graph above, you’ll notice that the downtown and Belle Meade areas of Nashville tend to have a pretty high cost per bedroom. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions. Clicking on these will take you to a property overview, which then can be clicked if the overview looks like something you might want to investigate further.

We’re continually impressed with the results that we find on HotPads. In fact, it’s where I found the house in which I’m now living. If the color codes had been in place then, my search would likely have gone a lot faster. I happened to find one of those inexpensive gems in a sea of gems, and now you can too.

We all move. Finding somewhere to go is a real pain. With tools like its new visual search, it’s no wonder that HotPads has seen a 260% growth in the past year.