Before you even consider buying or selling in this crazy real estate market it’s best to arm yourself with all the education you can. Here are ten tools to help you.
zillow.com Best All Around – Photos and aerial views, specific figures for houses, including offering price, last sale price, houses recently sold in the neighborhood, property taxes, Zillow estimate of current value, features of the house, local schools and listing agent. A variety of mortgage terms are offered. However, be aware that the site relies heavily on comparable sales nearby for determining value. If there aren’t many sales in your area, the information may not be so useful.
Provides a broader view of the overall market in the larger area. Includes number of price reductions, new listings, upcoming open houses, foreclosures, sold in the last few days and fluctuations in market pricing.
This site gives you access to local public records. Sometimes it provides general information, such as phone numbers and addresses of county offices, sometimes it gives more detail. Everything is available from real estate details to arrest records.
Pricing: Free on your own, specific paid search is $34.95.
Offers real estate information, public records and research reports for a price. Check that your county is covered for the specific report.
Pricing: Comparable Properties Report, $5.00; Transfer Detail Report, $5.00; Ownership and Encumbrance Report, $60.
Find out the price, the look of the place, how long the house has been on the market and any previous reductions. Only bother with those nearby and similar.
Real Estate Agents
They’re likely to give you a high figure trying to get you to list with them. Once you’re on board, they’ll get realistic, trying to move along the sale.
Pricing: Fee, but you’ve started a relationship
Marshall & Swift Residential Cost Handbook
Professional appraisers use this handbook to assess how much certain features are worth (such as the fireplace, etc). However, it’s difficult to be exact in this market.
Pricing: $300, but it is available in some business school libraries.
Owned by Marshall & Swift. Online program in which you record all the details used by a professional assessor to determine house value.
Pricing: $8 for a report
Don’t bother; the figures are out of date. There were many protests that local governments were using inflated figures last year.
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