Ten years ago, looking for real estate would've started in the office of an local real estate agent or just by driving around town. On the agent's office, you'd spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings through the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of curiosity, you would spend a few months touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data for you to assess the asking price would more and more difficult and a lot more driving, but you just might not be able to find each of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a good market value.
Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword explore Google by location will probably get you thousands of results. Should you spot a property of great interest on a real estate internet site, you can typically view photos web maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Internet sites, such as the local county assessor, to obtain an idea of the property's value, see just what the current owner taken care of the property, check the real-estate taxes, get census data, school information, and in many cases check out what shops are within walking distance-all without having to leave your house!
While the resources on the net are convenient and helpful, with them properly can be a challenge due to volume of information and also the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of "Denver real estate" returned 2,670,000 Sites. Even a neighborhood specific seek out real estate can easily return a large number of Web sites. With so many resources online what makes an investor effectively use them without getting stalled or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real-estate works offline makes it much simpler to understand online real estate property information and strategies.
The Business of Real Estate
Real estate is normally bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is traded through real estate brokers. (We use "agent" and "broker" to refer to the same professional.) Simply because their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive use of a database of active houses for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the perfect way to search for properties.
The MLS (and CIE)
The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is frequently referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In many instances, only properties listed by member realtors can be added to an MLS. The main purpose of an MLS would be to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation with member agents if they find a buyer for a property.
This purposes failed to include enabling the direct publishing in the MLS information for the public; times change. Today, most MLS info is directly accessible to people over the Internet in many different forms.
Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property info is more elusive. Larger MLSs often manage a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS nevertheless the agents adding the listings for the database are not necessary to offer any specific form of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside of the CIE.
In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The possible lack of a managed centralized database will make these properties harder to locate. Traditionally, these properties are normally found by driving around or seeking ads in the local newspaper's real estate listings. A more efficient approach to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is always to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site within the geographic area.
Just what is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not exactly the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate professional who is also a part of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.
MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only accessible in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly open to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About 10 years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle has become a flood!
One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Internet sites, and most of those Web sites have varying quantities of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is the fact that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market information sites. The flood of property information to the Internet definitely makes all the information more accessible but additionally more confusing and at the mercy of misunderstanding and misuse.
Despite the flood of property information on the Internet, most properties continue to be sold directly through realtors listing properties from my MLS or CIE. However, those property listings usually do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the net is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are typically disseminated for visible on many different Web sites. For instance, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, also to the local real estate agent's Web site. In addition, the listing might be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In simple terms, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today's realtor, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.
In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may also be helpful the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep your seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When a real estate agent provides all of these services it is referred to as being a complete listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.
Adjustments to the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to improve the way they do business. Largely, this is due to the instant access most consumers have to property listings and also other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process the real deal estate. For example, consumers can watch properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to transmit listings to people that match their property criteria. So, some agents are now limiting the services they offer and alter their fees accordingly. A realtor may offer to advertise the home in the MLS only provide limited additional services. In the foreseeable future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.
As a result of volume of real estate info on the Internet, when people employ a real estate agent today they need to look at the particular services available from the agent and also the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. Select longer just about use of property listing information. Sellers and buyers historically found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now provides approaches to directly find qualified agents or research the biography of your agent referred to you offline. The type of site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site a realtor can personalize their profile, begin a blog, post pics and vids and even create a url to their web site totally free. Once unique content is put into their profile page the search engines notice!
Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS along with the MLS less relevant. We feel this will be false in the end. It may change the role in the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than previously. In fact, the number of realtors has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has produced local real estate a universal business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that this purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchases more than a lifetime) and they want expert help. Alternatives MLS, it continues to be the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and is constantly enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate property information?
Online real estate property information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can conserve time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make smarter investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next phase is to know where to go online for some of the best resources.
Within the sections that follow, you can expect strategies and techniques to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information strongly related your decision to purchase the property. There are many real estate Websites from which to choose and although and we don't mean to endorse any particular Website, we have found the ones right here to be good resources generally or to be so well received that they need mention. A great way to test a Web site's accuracy is always to search for information about a house you already own.
Finding Real Estate for Sale
Despite the acquireable access to real estate listings, many believe MLS databases always offer the most complete and accurate way to obtain real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute prepared to other Web sites (primarily operated by real estate agents). An excellent kick off point for MLS originated submissions are the national NAR Web site, realtor.com, which the most popular web site for searching property listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs offer an agreement with realtor.com to show much of their active listing inventory.
Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Web site. However, to get complete information you may most likely still need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local realtors will also provide their customers (via email) new listings which can be input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This is helpful to a busy buyer.
In addition there are many Web sites that display both real estate professional listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. A number of the more popular Web sites include zillow.com and trulia.com. Web sites offer other services too. As an example, zillow.com is best noted for its instantaneous property valuation function and trulia.com for providing historical information. Another method to obtain properties for sale is the state, regional, and local Web sites associated with brokerage companies; for instance, remax.com or prudential.com. Search engines like yahoo.com and classified advertising sites like craigslist.com also have a large number of active real estate listings.
One key contrast between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, at trulia.com it is possible to shop anonymously up to a point but then you will need to click through for the agent's Web site for more info. Many new real estate property search engines allow you to sift through listings without having to submit a form. The best strategy is to browse a number of the sites listed above to find geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. When investing in serious about a property, then this is the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choosing to conduct a total search in the local MLS.
Additionally, it never hurts to find the old-fashioned way by driving from the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you find yourself making a serious investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local company and standing in front with the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing an internet page printout.
As we mentioned, probably the most popular real estate tools is zillow.com's instant property valuation. Just type in an address and in so you get a property value. It even charts the price pros and cons, and shows the past date sold (including price) as well as the property taxes. There are many sites that provide similar tools including housevalues.com and homegain.com. Unfortunately, many individuals use these estimated values alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, they are only rough estimates using a formula that incorporates the area county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly more than a short period of time and do not seem to always track actual market changes, that are normally more gradual. Moreover, these estimates tend not to automatically take into account property remodels or renovations and other property specific or local changes. This is not to say these sites aren't useful. In fact, they are great starting points and will provide a good ball-park value oftentimes.
When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are additional strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county's Internet site. More often than not the county assessor's portion of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you need to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, the neighborhood assessor's sites are really helpful. Once you visit a county's Web site you are receiving information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information on their Web sites. Perhaps you cannot only see the price a prior owner paid, however the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property valuation tools too.
In the importance of valuation to investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate professionals and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to get value information for any property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS would be to market the active property listings of the members, the system also collects sales information for the people listings. REALTOR members are able to pull this sales information and produce comparable market analyses (also known as CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a particular property's value for the market in a particular area.
Finally, the most accurate way to value a house is by having a certified appraiser provide an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both sold information inside the MLS system in addition to county information and after that analyze the information to generate a valuation for the property depending on one or more approved types of valuation. These methods of valuation normally include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences relating to the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, having an income producing property, determine a price based on the income produced by the property.
There are lots of ways the Internet may help you get the scoop with a particular neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at census.gov. You may also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like outside.in or review local blogs. Your site is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and giving an answer to messages. Start by investigating placeblogger.com and kcnn.org/citymediasites.com for the directory of blogs. Trulia.com has a "Heat Map" that shows how hot each neighborhood is dependant on prices, sales, or popularity one of many sites users.
In relation to selling residential property or rental properties that focus on families, the quality of the region school district makes a huge difference. There are many Web sites devoted to school information. Check out greatschools.net or schoolmatters.com. Most local school districts have their own Web site. Internet websites contain a variety of details about the public schools and the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.
Discovering the right Real Estate Agent
A recent addition to the Internet boom in tangible estate information is Internet sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and native knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. Search to find an agent which has a particular expertise, geographic part of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The site AgentWorld.com lets users easily and quickly find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and and also simple agent profiles. AgentWorld.com also enables agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find a very good agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles will include a direct link to the agent's internet site where you will likely get the local MLS listings.
Maps and also other Tools
The Internet has created mapping and locating properties less difficult. To get an aerial view or satellite picture of a property or neighborhood, go to maps.live.com or maps.google.com or visit walkscore.com to find out how walk-able a particular property is. These sites can give you a concept of the neighborhood characteristics along with the types of entertainment, restaurants, as well as other facilities that are in easy reach of the property. Maps.Live.com supplies a view at an angle so that you can see the sides of houses and Maps.Google even offers you a 360 degree street-level view for certain neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these simple satellite map Internet sites, you really should if only for amusement.
Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies
The world wide web is a very effective research and advertising tool for real estate investors but isn't a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you money and time by enabling easy and quick property research and marketing options. Sites like AgentWorld.com also help you efficiently locate a REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.
Always remember, with regards to Internet strategies for property: More knowledge is much better. You need to use the Internet to construct your knowledge base on the target property in order to find a real estate agent with expertise you will need. However, the big caution this is that the Internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert consultancy or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.