The Best Real Estate Website to Use

With thousands of Real Estate websites out there, finding the right one can be challenging. Do a search on Google and you get hit with the most popular Real Estate websites, like Zillow, Trulia, and Refine. Once you get past the first page even the less popular sites now have the same home search features. So how does a home owner or home buyer to know what site is best. Before you choose you first need to understand a little more about how they all started and what they really are.

For many years if you were in the market to buy a home you had to go to the local Real Estate office in the area you wanted to buy a home in and ask to see a list of homes for sale. This list was a print out of the homes for sale from the local Multiple Listing service (MLS). The list gave you basic information about the homes and some marketing remarks. You scanned through it and then asked for an agent to show you the homes you thought you might like.

This was great for Real Estate agents because as harbors of this information, the buyers had to come to them. It also gave the agent a chance to show the homes that the agent themselves were listing first. For the buyer this wasn’t so good. It was hard for the buyer to tell if the agent was there to represent them or the seller and if they wanted to look at homes in more than one town they may have to go to other Real Estate offices to see list from other MLS’s. These lists could also be out of date and when you did find the home of your dreams it may already be sold. This process could take a long time and be stressful for even the most seasoned buyer.

Fast forward a decade or two and some important changes have happened. The MLS went digital and consolidated into larger MLS companies that covered even larger areas. Here in Western Washington we now use The North West Multiple Listing service (NWMLS) and it covers all but two counties; Clark and Clallam. In the 90’s the internet brought the first Real Estate websites. Most of these showed the homes listed by the agent/agencies that owned the website and were not updated very often. Some of the bigger Real Estate agencies, the ones that had the money and resources, started building home searches tools using data directly from the MLS. Now, for the first time, buyers do not have to talk to an agent to find homes for sale and can get even more information (pictures, schools, map locations and up to date status).

Nowadays the price of producing these high quality websites has come down to the point where the average agent with the right skills can build their own. We now see an explosion of Real Estate websites and it seems most of them have home search features. This leaves buyers confused on which website to use.

Now that buyers can get information from just about any Real Estate website, what should they know before picking one? First, here in Washington State any licensed agent can show you and represent you on any home listed on the MLS no matter what website you find it on. Most of these websites have a mobile application or are mobile friendly. While most buyers begin their home search on the internet what they don’t understand is that that website you use to look at homes is a lead generation tool for the agent. The buyer is trading their contact information for the use of the website.

This is not a bad thing. If you really want to buy a home then you will need your questions answered, help finding financing, an agent to open doors for you, someone who understand the paperwork and can help you with the negotiations, and a trusted agent to look out for you in the closing process. That can only happen when you talk to an agent. Which agent you get is the important part. And that’s where finding the right website comes in to play. The buyer should use these websites to find out more about the agent they might want to represent them. Finding out more about the agent before getting involved with an agent is the key to achieving your goals of buying or selling a home.

What you should be looking for is what the agent’s experience is in Real Estate? Do they work full time as a licensed Real Estate agent? What is their closing success rate? Do they guarantee their services? What do past clients have to say about the agent’s service? These questions can sometimes be found on the agent’s website but if not you should ask on the first contact with an agent. Now that you know how they started and what they are, how do you choose the right website for you? First, let’s talk about the differences in these websites. We can break it down to four types.

The first type is the big non brokerage sites like Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com and Trulia. These sites don’t have agents working in the field. What they do is sell the leads that register on their site to agents who hope to convert the lead into a customer. These website have worked hard to make sure home buyers find their site first. They have added a lot of nice tools that estimate home values or mortgage calculators and all the information they can get on just about every home in the US and some other countries. They get most of this information from public record and what some home owners may give them. The down side to these sites is that the information they used can be out of date or inaccurate. Take the home values for example, because they get the sold data (what homes in the same neighborhood sold for) from public records not the local MLS their numbers can be behind the market trends. In the world of Real Estate we only look back to the last six months to help us determine the value of a home. While the sale price of a home may go in the public record right at closing, it can take months to filter through the system before these websites can encompass it into their data and that will throw their numbers off. There is also a question about like kind homes. When a Real Estate agent or appraiser does a comparable market analysis (CMA) of a home’s value, they look for homes just like the subject home (the home that is being valued) same size, same bedrooms, same baths, same size property, same neighborhood and same condition. This can be a bit of an art and the question is can a computer do as good a job as an agent? This can leave home buyers and home sellers confused about the true value of a home.

I would like to take this opportunity to weigh in on home values. In a free market, like ours here in the US, the true value of a home is exactly “the highest price a buyer is willing to pay and the least amount a seller is willing to take” for any property. It is only when a property is sold that the true market price can be set and everyone else, Real Estate Agent, Appraisers, County Assessors and any website, is only making an estimate or guess.

The second type of Real Estate websites are the big and medium size brokerages like Re/Max, Windermere, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, RedFin and ZipRealty. These companies have multiple brokerages in many locations throughout the US. These Real Estate companies have agents who work for the brokerages directly, usually as independent contractors. Leads or potential customers who register on their sites are assigned out to the individual agent or sometimes sold depending on the companies polices. These companies take a large part on the agent’s commission or pay, with some of them taking 60% or more. This means the agent has to work harder to convert as many leads to customers as possible just to make enough money to stay in business. Sometimes these agents take on more than they can reasonably handle leading to poor customer service or a higher transaction failure rate. Some of these companies give the buyer a rebate. This rebate comes out of the agent’s commission and can make it even harder for agents to provide good service to their customers. I have heard a lot of complaints about agents that disappeared once a contract is signed or agents that refuse to show homes to buyers that are looking at homes in the lower end of the market yet they still want to write up the contract and get paid a commission.

The third type of Real Estate website is the small or independent brokerages. These companies are usually owned and operated by seasoned agents who have the skill and knowledge to build a good quality website and provide good service to buyers and sellers alike. You will find the same home search tools and email notifications as on the big sites and because these sites serve local communities, many times these sites have more information about the areas they serve and consumers can read more about the agents that they may want to use in buying or selling their homes. These companies can have one or more agents working together as a team or as independent agents and usually have a higher successful closing rate. What makes these sites the best choice for home buyers or sellers is the agents that come with them.

The fourth type of Real Estate website is the independent agent website. These websites are built by the individual agent or a third party on behalf of the agent. They can be as good as any of the bigger commercial sites depending on the skill, time and money an agent is willing to put into it. These agents can be very good agents yet most of them are little more than one page public resumes put out by agents hoping to attract buyers or sellers to the agent it is promoting.

So in considering a Real Estate website, buyers and sellers should keep in mind that a website is not going to help you buy or sell your home, it’s the Real Estate agent. The website is a way of seeking out the right agent to do the job. Think of it this way, since you can get the homes information from just about every website now what value are you getting from a website? The value is in the service you get from an agent who may save you time, money and keep you from the heartache of a bad deal or bad service.

First Time Home Buyer’s Guide To Real Estate

“When you set out to buy your first home, you certainly want to buy a piece of real estate that you can consider to be home” and not just an investment. At the same time, the best real estate purchase is one that can fill both of these roles. Therefore, when you begin the search for your home, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to make the best purchase possible. These include:

Location
House size
Lot specifications

By considering these three areas carefully, you will be more likely to make a real estate purchase that will make you happy for years to come.

Considering the Location

Everyone has heard that location is the most important aspect of real estate and for good reason. After all, if the real estate you buy is in a poor location, you are not likely to be happy living there and you will have a difficult time selling the property later.

When considering a piece of real estate, you want to look into the crime statistics in the area. Just looking up the numbers for the area is not enough, however, as this does not paint a clear picture of the specific neighborhood you are considering. Find out as much as you can about your neighbors before moving in as living next door to the wrong people can make your life miserable and can significantly decrease your property value.

You can learn more about your neighbors by driving through the neighborhood at night on a couple different occasions. You can also ask your local police station to provide you with a list of all of the calls they received within a one mile radius of the home over the past two years. This list will tell you when the calls where made, where the police were dispatched, and why they were called in the first place.

Considering the Size of the Home

The size of the house you are looking to buy is another important consideration. Obviously, the houses in the neighborhood will vary somewhat is size, but most should be pretty similar. When it comes to resell value, you don’t want to buy the largest home in the neighborhood. Similarly, if the homes around the one you are looking to buy are smaller than yours, your home most likely will not appreciate in value as quickly. At the same time, purchasing a home that is smaller than the other properties in the neighborhood will help to increase its value faster.

Of course, you need to purchase a home that is large enough for you and your family. Therefore, you will have to weigh your needs against the potential resale value of the home when making your decision.

Considering the Lot

Although most of the value of your real estate purchase will be tied up in the actual home, you certainly want to consider the lot as well. Don’t worry too much if the lot does not have a great deal of landscaping done to it. You can add your own landscaping later, which will give the value of the home a nice boost. More importantly, you want to select a lot that is not overly crowded, oddly shaped, or situated in a strange position. All of these factors can make it more difficult for you to sell the home later.

When you buy a house, you definitely want to get a place you can call home.” At the same time, you want to shop smart and purchase a piece of real estate that will increase in value and serve as a wise investment as well.”

Hiring A Top Real Estate Agent The Key To A Good Sell

So you’ve decided to sell. Or buy. Either way, purchasing a new home is without doubt an important milestone in your life. If you are going to take this step, why not be smart about it and contact the top real estate agents available in your area? Selling or buying on your own is not out of fashion, but quite a risky and unwise process, from several points of view. A top real estate agent will, undoubtedly, guide you to make a good decision.

There are more ways to determine whether the expert you’ve chosen to help you is indeed a top real estate agent or not. You should probably inspect his negotiation skills before thinking of his other qualities. He needs to be a pro at whatever can get you a better price and better features for your transaction. The top real estate agents will be masters in the art of compromise and won’t even blink when they are all caught up in a battle” for their clients. Dedication and honesty towards you, the client, are also crucial.

In case you’re selling your home, you definitely need to begin seeing things from the perspective of the buyer. The top real estate agents will help you do this. You need to figure out what would motivate people to move into that house or that particular neighborhood, if there are any special facilities closely related to the area your house is located in and what kind of people would be interested in it. There are dozens of factors to think about when selling and tempting a certain targeted clientele, but as said, a top real estate agent can assist you in getting the best price for your property.

You also need to remember that getting your house evaluated is an essential stage in the selling process. You do, of course, need to test those which you consider to be the top real estate agents in the area by studying their offers and deciding which one of them charges less, but is also fit for the job. Be very careful with small details. A top real estate agent will most likely be punctual or at least come up with a valid reason for being otherwise. Keep in mind that you have to impress your house has to be tidy and looking squeaky clean before your agent even arrives. Think of him as a potential buyer you need him as interested as possible in what you have to offer in order for him to be enthusiastic with future buyers.

Needless to mention, information is the key. Before even taking any action, you definitely need to know everything about the procedure itself, plus the other prices offered for similar property in your area and so on and so forth. Use the Internet to your advantage not only regarding the real estate market, but regarding your agent as well – especially the services he is ready to offer. You need to be inquiring about the experience he’s had so far and if he’s got a team of experts ready to make the transactions as smooth as possible.

Finally, you have to be looking out for those few special touches that can greatly increase what people are ready to pay for your house. They’re likely to prefer a home with major improvements, rather than buy a basic one and take care of everything by themselves. The improvements have to be made professionally to save the clients a lot of time and effort spent for fixing things up. So try to take advantage and exploit these tips in your favor as much as you possibly can. If you really do have a top real estate agent, he will know how to sell your house if you have a patio or a well maintained garage. He will underline the qualities your property has in order to attract as many buyers as possible and sell for a high price.

What Is the Best Real Estate Website Design?

Aiming for the best real estate website design is what every realtor should aim for. Building a real estate website is not enough, it should be well-designed in a manner that will bring you profit as what you are aiming for in the first place. The best real estate website design will give you an edge over your competitors because you’ve designed a website that will help your visitors find what they need easily. People that go through your website should have a great user experience, this way they will not leave your website unless they found what they need and they are done with their purpose.

Best Real Estate Website Design Elements and Integrated Features

Clear Navigation Bar – Design your website in a way that the navigation bar is easily captured by your audience. This helps them find what they are looking for. They can easily learn about your business by going to your “about us page”. People can quickly decide which property to buy once they easily found all the information they needed. Of course, your navigation bar should be placed at the top of your website. Exception the rule is your landing page. Your landing page shouldn’t have a navigation bar to make your audience focus on the information you want them to see.

Virtual Tours – It will be great if you have integrated your website with a high-definition virtual tour. The images and videos that show the whole property and its neighborhood thrilled the buyers. It is nice to show your visitors around without bringing them to the actual place. It will save you time and money. You can get more page views with this feature and leave visitors satisfied. You can ask a professional help to do this for you.

Lead Capture Form – No one can deny the importance of lead capture form in every real estate website. Unlike other niche, real estate website visitors want to subscribe to a newsletter because they want to be notified from time to time on a new listing until they have found what they are searching for, so come on and design a lead capture form that will lead your visitors to sign up. It should be attractive enough to catch your leads attention. The wordings should be carefully chosen. You shouldn’t just simply tell them to sign up here, click here or go here. You should at least explain what they are getting if they do so. It will also be handy to have a telephone number inclusion optional in your form. Always test your form so that you are not missing any leads.

In short, the best real estate website design has the elements and the features integrated therein that makes the life of the prospective buyers easier in choosing a home. A well designed website also helps you and saves you a lot of time and money convincing your leads to get the property because the property will speak for itself with the help of your easy to navigate real estate website.

The Best Real Estate Strategy You’ve Never Heard Of – Landbanking

I’ve been investing in real estate since the early ’80s. I’ve done rentals, rehabs, some wholesaling, and some lease options. I’ve done rent-to-owns and raised and repaid over a half million dollars in private capital to fuel my efforts.

And I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way…

I’ve learned that real estate investing is a lot of work, with no shortage of pitfalls, and that rentals aren’t nearly as passive as I thought they’d be. In short, real estate investing can be a real mine field and navigating through it takes considerable time, knowledge and resources.

At least I thought it did.

In 2006 I was researching pre-construction condos and condo conversions when I stumbled onto LandBanking.

Landbanking? I thought I knew all about real estate — but I’d never heard of this before. So my antennae went up and I began learning all I could about LandBanking.

What is it? Well, it has nothing to do with safe-deposit boxes full of sod. And, it isn’t new, though the term may be. In fact, the basic LandBanking strategy is as old as civilization and private property rights. It’s as proven a strategy as any real estate strategy can be. In a nutshell, the strategy is to locate land in the path of near future development, buy it, then wait for development to approach and developers to offer you a whole lot more for the land than you paid for it.

If the metropolitan area where you live has been growing, I’m sure you’ve seen this in practice. Farmers typically will sell some or all of their fields to developers who will then build commercial or residential units on the land.

So what makes this the best real estate investment strategy? Three things the tremendous appreciation potential, the absence of all the hassles and headaches normally associated with real estate investing and the ability to go it alone or partner with experienced professionals.

If you have the interest, time and financial resources to find these valuable land parcels and negotiate their price, it would be hard to find a better or safer investment for your money. Some of the wealthiest throughout history have used Landbanking to start or grow their wealth. Today, Donald Trump owns one of the last large undeveloped land parcels in Manhattan – 100 acres along the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd streets. Bob Hope owned thousands of acres near Palm Springs, Phoenix and Malibu and 10,000 acres in San Fernando valley when it was little more than orange groves. Howard Hughes also held large amounts of land in or near Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

If you think those opportunities are gone, think again. Until the US population starts to decrease, or the amount of land starts to increase (hope you’re not holding your breath for either of those), the law of supply and demand will continue to push land prices ever higher. With few exceptions, most metropolitan areas in the country have been growing. And that means the land around them is becoming more valuable.

If you like the idea and the potential of LandBanking, but lack the time or financial resources, you can still participate by partnering with a professional. This is where the hassle-free part comes in. There are companies in the US that specialize in acquiring tracts of land for LandBanking and share the opportunity with would-be LandBankers who lack the time and financial resources to go it alone.

Instead of needing countless hours and millions of dollars to LandBank independently, you can become a LandBanker with a couple hours of due diligence and a few thousand dollars. Not much more time or effort than investing in a mutual fund. No searching out quality land (that’s already done), no negotiating (already done), no tedious and complicated closings (a few simple and straightforward documents), no tenants, no contractors. In short, no headaches and no hassles – just the ability to passively and affordably become a LandBanker and claim your share of LandBanking wealth.

LandBanking offers one of the lowest risk, highest return investments available. Click below to find out more about LandBanking in general and one company in particular you can partner with.