More information than we need to know
Not only is the world flat, it’s also shrinking and all because of the Internet. There is practically nothing that you can’t find out from the comfort of your home, while in your pajamas, with the stroke of a few dozen keys. And when it comes to real estate information, the access is endless, with improvements to existing real estate Web sites or new ones created practically every week.
Zillow.com, which has been around for quite a while, has just added a free iPhone app (application buttons available by touch on Apple iPhones), enabling consumers to get the lowdown on more than 88 million homes. The app is GPS driven, so you can virtually walk around your neighborhood with price estimates popping up along the way. If you come across a for sale sign, you can access pricing, size, broker and other information.
Trulia.com has also been around for a few years and has recently launched a nationwide filter that enables consumers to search 3.2 million listings for price reductions. Simply by entering a town or zip code, the site will list the homes that have had recent price reductions. Details include the number of times the price has been dropped, the date of the reduction and the dollar value and percentage of the reduction. Trulia claims this is a useful way to determine a seller’s motivation and flexibility on pricing as well as “taking the pulse of the market today.”
If you’re an investor or someone interested in becoming an investor in our depressed real estate market, take a look at investorloft.com. The site has several search filters, which go much deeper than just location and price. You can determine the estimated equity on a property, especially those with big differences between listing price and estimated value. There are also cash flow and cap rate estimators to help you determine the percentage of profit on your investment. Their new PropScout tool is currently available in about 20 states and should be in all 50 by early next year.
And if you’re really a real estate nerd, cyberhomes.com will keep you happy for months. Some of the free information includes researching distressed properties by location, determining average value of properties in a specific location, crime rate, population profiles, weather and other quality of life issues. For a fee, you can download a market report providing projections for specific neighborhoods including 12- and 24-month price change forecasts. This information can help buyers determine if the home they’re thinking about making an offer on is due for a downward market correction or set for an upturn.
Lastly, in case you haven’t noticed, the future of real estate marketing is video, with Google and its subsidiary You Tube leading the way in conjunction with national brokerage firms. Even relatively small independent brokers post videos of their listings on their company Web sites. Realtor.com is always a great source when looking for specific locations, frequently linking the property to the listing broker’s Web site.
The sheer volume of information available via our laptops is a good thing, right? Well it certainly makes research a lot easier, but I’m not too sure about those social Web sites. Why haven’t we heard about a boom in the pajama industry?