Real Estate Investing
Investing in real estate has long been a way for individuals and families to earn supplemental income and enhance their net worth. And, of course, there's great financial potential: if you make the right decisions, you'll reap the financial rewards. Use this guide to get educated, licensed, and set up with houses and real estate resources all from the comfort of your own home.
For those new to real estate investing, there are excellent resources online that provide an overview of trends and topics in the industry.
- Successful investing is as much about avoiding the wrong moves as it is about making the right ones. This article from Money Central, on MSN.com, has tips for avoiding the 10 biggest mistakes in real estate investing.
indexes many topics in real estate and answers lots of common questions on real estate and mortgages. You can read articles, find an agent, or calculate the value of your home through this site. Browse the extensive, but straightforward content to get a general idea of the business of real estate investing.
, the official site of the National Association of Realtors, gives a general overview of your real estate options. You'll get basic tips for selling a home, along with information on how to evaluate the worth of your home and ways to improve its value. The "Advice and Ideas" section, found in the navigation bar on the left side of the page, is full of helpful tips for buyers and sellers.
has resources for sellers, buyers, homeowners, and real estate professionals. Zillow provides estimates of the value of a home. You can browse "Recent Homes for Sale" to see images and descriptions of newly listed properties, or the "Most Talked About" section to view homes that have generated the biggest buzz. "Zillow Snapshot" highlights the hottest property markets in the United States.
The Web hosts resources for both the buyer and seller. If you're looking to move a property, consider listing it on one of the sites below to increase its visibility. If you're a prospective buyer, use the Web to access the breadth of the market and review thousands of listings in your search for the perfect property.
- RealEstateJournal.com, published by the Wall Street Journal, discusses the important things to avoid when selling a property. This comprehensive article is worth a read before you begin.
- For more extensive information about selling a property, visit the findingDulcinea Home Selling Guide.
For property listings ...
is a real estate search engine designed to bring you home listings, local real estate data, trends, and community overviews. After running your search you'll see all the properties that fit your criteria pinpointed on GoogleMap, making for easy comparison. Click a pinpoint for expanded information about the property (and in most cases, a photograph). Trulia is not run by brokers or agents, so you can trust them to bring you unbiased information.
is a map-based property search engine. Use the map on the homepage to find the area you're considering, and zoom in to find available properties. If you're not interested in navigating an onscreen map, you can enter your constraints and search by city. The stunning graphics and Microsoft Virtual Earth map are definite perks, and although listings tend to be skimpy in suburban areas, investors-to-be looking in metropolitan centers will find decent depth.
lists for-sale-by-owner properties. Sellers can list a property and read the "Sellers Resources" section. Buyers can search properties by state and get a list of properties sorted by city and price. Search results list city, price, area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and type of dwelling. Click on a property for details and seller contact information.
is a federal government site that lists all of the properties and homes that the government is selling-either because it no longer needs the properties, or because it has seized them. Look up single-family homes, farms and ranches, commercial buildings and land, or state and government properties.
If the idea of going it alone doesn't appeal to you, consider enlisting the services of a real estate agent. Through the Web you can find them virtually or locally, working independently, or for some of the industry's largest real estate organizations.
- Before you use a full-service broker to put up your house for sale, visit SmartMoney.com for a list of the positives and negatives to this approach.
To find a real estate agent ...
, noted earlier as a source for general information, also has resources for finding a professional to assist you with your real estate needs.
Real Estate Agents Index
helps you find an agent to aid you in buying or selling your property. Visit the "More Information" section to provide prospective agents with the essential details of the property you're looking to buy or sell.
lets you search and compare realtors in your area. HomeGain also locates properties for sale and in foreclosure, and calculates home value and mortgage rates.
To find an agent with a specific real estate organization ...
, "franchiser of the world's largest residential real estate sales organization," lets you find agents and properties directly through their site. Fill out the information on this page to locate the representatives in your area. Contacting these agents directly, or access their privately operated Web sites (via the links provided on the results page) to browse listings.
, the country's oldest real estate organization, allows you to buy or sell a property online, or find a broker.
is a real estate sales-franchise network with agents and properties in countries all around the world. On the site you can search for properties across the United States, locate an agent in your area, and access information on buying and selling properties. The "Neighborhood Valuation Report" has details on the neighborhood you're interested in.
Whether you're buying or selling a property, tools that can calculate estimated market value can greatly aid your decision making. Luckily the Web abounds with just such tools. The resources below are a great starting point for your calculations. If you're looking for a slightly more concrete figure, you'll also find sites for locating certified home inspectors.
- Compare the list price of properties you're considering with the estimated values generated on these Web sites, and investigate any large discrepancies between the two figures. You can also use these tools to learn the prices that similar houses in the same area have sold for.
- If one database from the list below doesn't feature the home you're looking for, try researching it on another. If none of these resources lists the value of your home, consider contacting a real estate agent to help you determine the property's worth.
- A recently popular site for home valuations is Zillow.com. For information on Zillow's "Zestimate" valuations, check out this article from CNNMoney.com, which overviews the services.
For value calculators ...
has a sophisticated valuation with customizable parameters to most closely estimate the value of any property in the United States. An integrated GoogleMap shows where the most recent sales were in relation to your property, and the selling price of those properties.
lets you search for home values and general public records. You'll have access to parcel maps, property reports and histories, deeds, vital records, tax data, and even environmental statistics in any given area on such important considerations as radon, asbestos, and lead. There's also a directory of service providers to help you deal with these issues.
is a free service that aides you in finding the market value of your home and a suggested listing price. Start by entering your zip code. The site will direct you through the rest of the determination process. This site is straightforward and simple.
For help finding a home inspector ...
Home Inspections USA
is a directory of home-inspection companies in the United States. Just click on a state on the U.S. map to find the companies in a particular state. The site also has informative home inspection articles for home buyers and sellers.
If you've ever seen a home improvement show on television, you know that there are simple steps one can take to increase the value of a property prior to a sale. Experts agree that the right investments, however small, can have big payoffs. Yet they also warn against sinking money into the wrong projects, particularly those unlikely to result in a larger price tag. Use the sites in this section to learn all of the tricks for getting the most out of your property.
- Cleanliness and an uncluttered space are essential when you're showing a property. Acknowledging this, Julie Parrish Realty discusses exterior and interior home-cleaning tips that will help increase your home's appeal to prospective buyers.
- For another article with tips on home improvement, check out this one on MSN Real Estate. For more pithy advice, follow the links embedded in the body of the document.
For property value advice ...
offers a "Home Improvement Guide 2007" that lists the 10 most important home-remodeling projects to take on. Click the links to any project for a list of the cities in which you are most likely to recoup costs from your effort. This is a worthwhile site to visit to determine which projects are most worthwhile, and which you can forgo. Visit the TOC for links to many other relevant discussions and tips on improving resale value.
takes you through each room of your home and provides instruction on how to make a variety of repairs. This site addresses issues with floors and ceilings, walls, plumbing and electrical systems, and maintenance of your heating and cooling controls. You'll also find a forum to use if you need to bounce ideas off of-or commiserate with-someone working on the same type of repairs.
One of the keys to successful investing is having access to quality, timely information. By keeping abreast of industry developments and emerging trends, you put yourself in a position to act on properties with confidence, at opportune moments. The publications found in this section are useful companions to any real estate investor.
- Many of the sites recommended here are blogs and forums. These sites are of value only because of user contributions to them, so if you have a question or worthwhile piece of advice, post it for the benefit of all. And be sure to go back to the sites you found helpful and add your own advice and war stories.
- For a smattering of real estate stories from news outlets across the country, explore Topix.net. Topix keeps a running list of the latest stories, and allows you to enter key terms to filter your search.
For journals and newspapers ...
is part of The Wall Street Journal network. Read tips for buying or selling your home, or learn about trends in the market. Browse properties or realtors, and find articles about buying a second home, gardening, and remodeling your home.
The New York Times
lets you search by location for available properties while also highlighting the latest headlines in real estate news. Much of the content is free, but for total coverage you'll need to register and pay for membership to the online version of the newspaper.
provides news on real estate and technology innovations. Visit the "News" link for articles detailing the latest in industry developments-links throughout the text define terms and take you to more in-depth coverage. You can also visit the Inmanblog or Inmanwiki for user-generated coverage.
For blogs and forums ...
calls itself "the official real estate industry blog." The entries in this blog discuss current developments and trends, and it has a useful glossary of terms.
Future of Real Estate Marketing
is a blog that keeps you up to date on the trends of the real estate market, particularly as they apply to the Web. You'll read about the latest real estate Web sites, and get some insight on the latest generation of home buyers.
is a forum for real estate professionals. There are individual sections for agents, brokers, buying, selling, foreclosures, relocation, home inspection, and much more. This forum allows you to contribute to real estate discussions on nearly any topic relevant to the industry.
Most Recent Guides