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Real Estate Agents In My Area California

Real Estate Agents In My Area California

Are you Looking for Real Estate Agents In My Area in California?

When real estate investing is something you want to get into, you’re going to need a couple of tips first. This is so that you get all you can from this sort of thing. If this interests you, then this article will help you to get started in the right direction.

Never give up if you ever experience a setback with your plan and strategy. The real estate market is filled with many great and bad times, so make sure to stay strong if you hit a lull in your search. Persistence is the key to success when dealing with Real Estate Agents In My Area in California.

Top Rated Real Estate Broker

Prior to starting your real estate investments, choose a particular submarket to focus on. You may like flipping real estate in California. Perhaps, you’re more suited to doing rehab projects that need rebuilt from the ground up. Different work is required for each, and you can then hone your skills.

Stay within your preferred niche. It is better to find a groove with your investments in California  if you focus on a single segment of the market. You have a better chance of success if you focus your efforts on one area.

Top Houses For Sale Near Me

Top Rated House For Sale Near Me

Home Buyers and Sellers Real Estate Glossary

Every business has it's jargon and residential real estate is no exception. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home shares commonly used terms with home buyers and sellers.

1031 exchange or Starker exchange: The delayed exchange of properties that qualifies for tax purposes as a tax-deferred exchange.

1099: The statement of income reported to the IRS for an independent contractor.

A/I: A contract that is pending with attorney and inspection contingencies.

Accompanied showings: Those showings where the listing agent must accompany an agent and his or her clients when viewing a listing.

Addendum: An addition to; a document.

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM): A type of mortgage loan whose interest rate is tied to an economic index, which fluctuates with the market. Typical ARM periods are one, three, five, and seven years.

Agent: The licensed real estate salesperson or broker who represents buyers or sellers.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The total costs (interest rate, closing costs, fees, and so on) that are part of a borrower's loan, expressed as a percentage rate of interest. The total costs are amortized over the term of the loan.

Application fees: Fees that mortgage companies charge buyers at the time of written application for a loan; for example, fees for running credit reports of borrowers, property appraisal fees, and lender-specific fees.

Appointments: Those times or time periods an agent shows properties to clients.

Appraisal: A document of opinion of property value at a specific point in time.

Appraised price (AP): The price the third-party relocation company offers (under most contracts) the seller for his or her property. Generally, the average of two or more independent appraisals.

"As-is": A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Assumable mortgage: One in which the buyer agrees to fulfill the obligations of the existing loan agreement that the seller made with the lender. When assuming a mortgage, a buyer becomes personally liable for the payment of principal and interest. The original mortgagor should receive a written release from the liability when the buyer assumes the original mortgage.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently.

Back-up agent: A licensed agent who works with clients when their agent is unavailable.

Balloon mortgage: A type of mortgage that is generally paid over a short period of time, but is amortized over a longer period of time. The borrower typically pays a combination of principal and interest. At the end of the loan term, the entire unpaid balance must be repaid.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Bill of sale: Transfers title to personal property in a transaction.

Board of REALTORS® (local): An association of REALTORS® in a specific geographic area.

Broker: A state licensed individual who acts as the agent for the seller or buyer.

Broker of record: The person registered with his or her state licensing authority as the managing broker of a specific real estate sales office.

Broker's market analysis (BMA): The real estate broker's opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined after acquisition of the property by the third-party company.

Broker's tour: A preset time and day when real estate sales agents can view listings by multiple brokerages in the market.

Buyer: The purchaser of a property.

Buyer agency: A real estate broker retained by the buyer who has a fiduciary duty to the buyer.

Buyer agent: The agent who shows the buyer's property, negotiates the contract or offer for the buyer, and works with the buyer to close the transaction.

Carrying costs: Cost incurred to maintain a property (taxes, interest, insurance, utilities, and so on).

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange): The insurance industry's national database that assigns individuals a risk score. CLUE also has an electronic file of a properties insurance history. These files are accessible by insurance companies nationally. These files could impact the ability to sell property as they might contain information that a prospective buyer might find objectionable, and in some cases not even insurable.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer may also be required to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compen-sation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive Market Analysis (CMA): The analysis used to provide market information to the seller and assist the real estate broker in securing the listing.

Condominium association: An association of all owners in a condominium.

Condominium budget: A financial forecast and report of a condominium association's expenses and savings.

Condominium by-laws: Rules passed by the condominium association used in administration of the condominium property.

Condominium declarations: A document that legally establishes a condominium.

Condominium right of first refusal: A person or an association that has the first opportunity to purchase condominium real estate when it becomes available or the right to meet any other offer.

Condominium rules and regulation: Rules of a condominium association by which owners agree to abide.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Contract for deed: A sales contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property but the seller holds title until the loan is paid. Also known as an installment sale contract.

Conventional mortgage: A type of mortgage that has certain limitations placed on it to meet secondary market guidelines. Mortgage companies, banks, and savings and loans underwrite conventional mortgages.

Cooperating commission: A commission offered to the buyer's agent brokerage for bringing a buyer to the selling brokerage's listing.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower's credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower's credit report based on information contained therein.

Curb appeal: The visual impact a property projects from the street.

Days on market: The number of days a property has been on the market.

Decree: A judgment of the court that sets out the agreements and rights of the parties.

Disclosures: Federal, state, county, and local requirements of disclosure that the seller provides and the buyer acknowledges.

Divorce: The legal separation of a husband and wife effected by a court decree that totally dissolves the marriage relationship.

DOM: Days on market.

Down payment: The amount of cash put toward a purchase by the borrower.

Drive-by: When a buyer or seller agent or broker drives by a property listing or potential listing.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit: The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer's good faith.

Escrow account for real estate taxes and insurance: An account into which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Exclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are excluded from the contract or offer to purchase.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fax rider: A document that treats facsimile transmission as the same legal effect as the original document.

Feedback: The real estate sales agent and/or his or her client's reaction to a listing or property. Requested by the listing agent.

Fee simple: A form of property ownership where the owner has the right to use and dispose of property at will.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee by the FHA that a percentage of a loan will be underwritten by a mortgage company or banker.

Fixture: Personal property that has become part of the property through permanent attachment.

Flat fee: A predetermined amount of compensation received or paid for a specific service in a real estate transaction.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Gross sale price: The sale price before any concessions.

Hazard insurance: Insurance that covers losses to real estate from damages that might affect its value.

Homeowner's insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD/RESPA (Housing and Urban Development/Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act): A document and statement that details all of the monies paid out and received at a real estate property closing.

Hybrid adjustable rate: Offers a fixed rate the first 5 years and then adjusts annually for the next 25 years.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange): Allows real estate brokers to advertise each other's listings posted to listing databases such as the multiple listing service.

Inclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are included in a contract or offer to purchase.

Independent contractor: A real estate sales agent who conducts real estate business through a broker. This agent does not receive salary or benefits from the broker.

Inspection rider: Rider to purchase agreement between third party relocation company and buyer of transferee's property stating that property is being sold "as is." All inspection reports conducted by the third party company are disclosed to the buyer and it is the buyer's duty to do his/her own inspections and tests.

Installment land contract: A contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property while the seller retains the title to the property until the loan is paid.

Interest rate float: The borrower decides to delay locking their interest rate on their loan. They can float their rate in expectation of the rate moving down. At the end of the float period they must lock a rate.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

List date: Actual date the property was listed with the current broker.

List price: The price of a property through a listing agreement.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agent: The real estate sales agent that is representing the sellers and their property, through a listing agreement.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent's agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Listing appointment: The time when a real estate sales agent meets with potential clients selling a property to secure a listing agreement.

Listing exclusion: A clause included in the listing agreement when the seller (transferee) lists his or her property with a broker.

Loan: An amount of money that is lent to a borrower who agrees to repay the amount plus interest.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower's loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower's lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer's funds and the borrower's loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer's loan.

Lockbox: A tool that allows secure storage of property keys on the premises for agent use. A combo uses a rotating dial to gain access with a combination; a Supra® (electronic lockbox or ELB) features a keypad.

Managing broker: A person licensed by the state as a broker who is also the broker of record for a real estate sales office. This person manages the daily operations of a real estate sales office.

Marketing period: The period of time in which the transferee may market his or her property (typically 45, 60, or 90 days), as directed by the third-party company's contract with the employer.

Mortgage banker: One who lends the bank's funds to borrowers and brings lenders and borrowers together.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

Mortgage loan servicing company: A company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A service that compiles available properties for sale by member brokers.

Multiple offers: More than one buyers broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR): A national association comprised of real estate sales agents.

Net sales price: Gross sales price less concessions to the buyers.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Offer to purchase: When a buyer proposes certain terms and presents these terms to the seller.

Office tour/caravan: A walking or driving tour by a real estate sales office of listings represented by agents in the office. Usually held on a set day and time.

Parcel identification number (PIN): A taxing authority's tracking number for a property.

Pending: A real estate contract that has been accepted on a property but the transaction has not closed.

Personal assistant: A real estate sales agent administrative assistant.

Planned unit development (PUD): Mixed-use development that sets aside areas for residential use, commercial use, and public areas such as schools, parks, and so on.

Preapproval: A higher level of buyer/borrower prequalification required by a mortgage lender. Some preapprovals have conditions the borrower must meet.

Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Prequalification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some prequalifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Preview appointment: When a buyer's agent views a property alone to see if it meets his or her buyer's needs.

Pricing: When the potential seller's agent goes to the potential listing property to view it for marketing and pricing purposes.

Principal: The amount of money a buyer borrows.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower's monthly mortgage payment. Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Professional designation: Additional nonlicensed real estate education completed by a real estate professional.

Professional regulation: A state licensing authority that oversees and disciplines licensees.

Promissory note: A promise-to-pay document used with a contract or an offer to purchase.

R & I: Estimated and actual repair and improvement costs.

Real estate agent: An individual who is licensed by the state and who acts on behalf of his or her client, the buyer or seller. The real estate agent who does not have a broker's license must work for a licensed broker.

Real estate contract: A binding agreement between buyer and seller. It consists of an offer and an acceptance as well as consideration (i.e., money).

REALTOR®: A registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS® that can be used only by its members.

Release deed: A written document stating that a seller or buyer has satisfied his or her obligation on a debt. This document is usually recorded.

Relist: Property that was listed with another broker but relisted with a current broker.

Rider: A separate document that is attached to a document in some way. This is done so that an entire document does not need to be rewritten.

Salaried agent: A real estate sales agent or broker who receives all or part of his or her compensation in real estate sales in the form of a salary.

Sale price: The price paid for a listing or property.

Seller (owner): The owner of a property who has signed a listing agreement or a potential listing agreement.

Showing: When a listing is shown to prospective buyers or the buyer's agent (preview).

Special assessment: A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative. Also a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

State Association of REALTORS®: An association of REALTORS® in a specific state.

Supra®: An electronic lockbox (ELB) that holds keys to a property. The user must have a Supra keypad to use the lockbox.

Temporarily off market (TOM): A listed property that is taken off the market due to illness, travel, needed repairs, and so on.

Temporary housing: Housing a transferee occupies until permanent housing is selected or becomes available.

Transaction: The real estate process from offer to closing or escrow.

Transaction management fee (TMF): A fee charged by listing brokers to the seller as part of the listing agreement.

Transaction sides: The two sides of a transaction, sellers and buyers. The term used to record the number of transactions in which a real estate sales agent or broker was involved during a specific period.

24-hour notice: Allowed by law, tenants must be informed of showing 24 hours before you arrive.

Under contract: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA (Veterans Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee on a mortgage amount backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Virtual tour: An Internet web/cd-rom-based video presentation of a property.

VOW's (Virtual Office web sites): An Internet based real estate brokerage business model that works with real estate consumers in same way as a brick and mortar real estate brokerage.

W-2: The Internal Revenue form issued by employer to employee to reflect compensation and deductions to compensation.

W-9: The Internal Revenue form requesting taxpayer identification number and certification.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Will: A document by which a person disposes of his or her property after death.

 

Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Leads 101 - Are You Copping Out of Following Up

Every business has it's jargon and residential real estate is no exception. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home shares commonly used terms with home buyers and sellers.

1031 exchange or Starker exchange: The delayed exchange of properties that qualifies for tax purposes as a tax-deferred exchange.

1099: The statement of income reported to the IRS for an independent contractor.

A/I: A contract that is pending with attorney and inspection contingencies.

Accompanied showings: Those showings where the listing agent must accompany an agent and his or her clients when viewing a listing.

Addendum: An addition to; a document.

Adjustable rate mortgage (ARM): A type of mortgage loan whose interest rate is tied to an economic index, which fluctuates with the market. Typical ARM periods are one, three, five, and seven years.

Agent: The licensed real estate salesperson or broker who represents buyers or sellers.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The total costs (interest rate, closing costs, fees, and so on) that are part of a borrower's loan, expressed as a percentage rate of interest. The total costs are amortized over the term of the loan.

Application fees: Fees that mortgage companies charge buyers at the time of written application for a loan; for example, fees for running credit reports of borrowers, property appraisal fees, and lender-specific fees.

Appointments: Those times or time periods an agent shows properties to clients.

Appraisal: A document of opinion of property value at a specific point in time.

Appraised price (AP): The price the third-party relocation company offers (under most contracts) the seller for his or her property. Generally, the average of two or more independent appraisals.

"As-is": A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Assumable mortgage: One in which the buyer agrees to fulfill the obligations of the existing loan agreement that the seller made with the lender. When assuming a mortgage, a buyer becomes personally liable for the payment of principal and interest. The original mortgagor should receive a written release from the liability when the buyer assumes the original mortgage.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently.

Back-up agent: A licensed agent who works with clients when their agent is unavailable.

Balloon mortgage: A type of mortgage that is generally paid over a short period of time, but is amortized over a longer period of time. The borrower typically pays a combination of principal and interest. At the end of the loan term, the entire unpaid balance must be repaid.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Bill of sale: Transfers title to personal property in a transaction.

Board of REALTORS® (local): An association of REALTORS® in a specific geographic area.

Broker: A state licensed individual who acts as the agent for the seller or buyer.

Broker of record: The person registered with his or her state licensing authority as the managing broker of a specific real estate sales office.

Broker's market analysis (BMA): The real estate broker's opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined after acquisition of the property by the third-party company.

Broker's tour: A preset time and day when real estate sales agents can view listings by multiple brokerages in the market.

Buyer: The purchaser of a property.

Buyer agency: A real estate broker retained by the buyer who has a fiduciary duty to the buyer.

Buyer agent: The agent who shows the buyer's property, negotiates the contract or offer for the buyer, and works with the buyer to close the transaction.

Carrying costs: Cost incurred to maintain a property (taxes, interest, insurance, utilities, and so on).

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange): The insurance industry's national database that assigns individuals a risk score. CLUE also has an electronic file of a properties insurance history. These files are accessible by insurance companies nationally. These files could impact the ability to sell property as they might contain information that a prospective buyer might find objectionable, and in some cases not even insurable.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer may also be required to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compen-sation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive Market Analysis (CMA): The analysis used to provide market information to the seller and assist the real estate broker in securing the listing.

Condominium association: An association of all owners in a condominium.

Condominium budget: A financial forecast and report of a condominium association's expenses and savings.

Condominium by-laws: Rules passed by the condominium association used in administration of the condominium property.

Condominium declarations: A document that legally establishes a condominium.

Condominium right of first refusal: A person or an association that has the first opportunity to purchase condominium real estate when it becomes available or the right to meet any other offer.

Condominium rules and regulation: Rules of a condominium association by which owners agree to abide.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Contract for deed: A sales contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property but the seller holds title until the loan is paid. Also known as an installment sale contract.

Conventional mortgage: A type of mortgage that has certain limitations placed on it to meet secondary market guidelines. Mortgage companies, banks, and savings and loans underwrite conventional mortgages.

Cooperating commission: A commission offered to the buyer's agent brokerage for bringing a buyer to the selling brokerage's listing.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower's credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower's credit report based on information contained therein.

Curb appeal: The visual impact a property projects from the street.

Days on market: The number of days a property has been on the market.

Decree: A judgment of the court that sets out the agreements and rights of the parties.

Disclosures: Federal, state, county, and local requirements of disclosure that the seller provides and the buyer acknowledges.

Divorce: The legal separation of a husband and wife effected by a court decree that totally dissolves the marriage relationship.

DOM: Days on market.

Down payment: The amount of cash put toward a purchase by the borrower.

Drive-by: When a buyer or seller agent or broker drives by a property listing or potential listing.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit: The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer's good faith.

Escrow account for real estate taxes and insurance: An account into which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Exclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are excluded from the contract or offer to purchase.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fax rider: A document that treats facsimile transmission as the same legal effect as the original document.

Feedback: The real estate sales agent and/or his or her client's reaction to a listing or property. Requested by the listing agent.

Fee simple: A form of property ownership where the owner has the right to use and dispose of property at will.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee by the FHA that a percentage of a loan will be underwritten by a mortgage company or banker.

Fixture: Personal property that has become part of the property through permanent attachment.

Flat fee: A predetermined amount of compensation received or paid for a specific service in a real estate transaction.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Gross sale price: The sale price before any concessions.

Hazard insurance: Insurance that covers losses to real estate from damages that might affect its value.

Homeowner's insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD/RESPA (Housing and Urban Development/Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act): A document and statement that details all of the monies paid out and received at a real estate property closing.

Hybrid adjustable rate: Offers a fixed rate the first 5 years and then adjusts annually for the next 25 years.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange): Allows real estate brokers to advertise each other's listings posted to listing databases such as the multiple listing service.

Inclusions: Fixtures or personal property that are included in a contract or offer to purchase.

Independent contractor: A real estate sales agent who conducts real estate business through a broker. This agent does not receive salary or benefits from the broker.

Inspection rider: Rider to purchase agreement between third party relocation company and buyer of transferee's property stating that property is being sold "as is." All inspection reports conducted by the third party company are disclosed to the buyer and it is the buyer's duty to do his/her own inspections and tests.

Installment land contract: A contract in which the buyer takes possession of the property while the seller retains the title to the property until the loan is paid.

Interest rate float: The borrower decides to delay locking their interest rate on their loan. They can float their rate in expectation of the rate moving down. At the end of the float period they must lock a rate.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

List date: Actual date the property was listed with the current broker.

List price: The price of a property through a listing agreement.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agent: The real estate sales agent that is representing the sellers and their property, through a listing agreement.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent's agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Listing appointment: The time when a real estate sales agent meets with potential clients selling a property to secure a listing agreement.

Listing exclusion: A clause included in the listing agreement when the seller (transferee) lists his or her property with a broker.

Loan: An amount of money that is lent to a borrower who agrees to repay the amount plus interest.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower's loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower's lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer's funds and the borrower's loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer's loan.

Lockbox: A tool that allows secure storage of property keys on the premises for agent use. A combo uses a rotating dial to gain access with a combination; a Supra® (electronic lockbox or ELB) features a keypad.

Managing broker: A person licensed by the state as a broker who is also the broker of record for a real estate sales office. This person manages the daily operations of a real estate sales office.

Marketing period: The period of time in which the transferee may market his or her property (typically 45, 60, or 90 days), as directed by the third-party company's contract with the employer.

Mortgage banker: One who lends the bank's funds to borrowers and brings lenders and borrowers together.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

Mortgage loan servicing company: A company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A service that compiles available properties for sale by member brokers.

Multiple offers: More than one buyers broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR): A national association comprised of real estate sales agents.

Net sales price: Gross sales price less concessions to the buyers.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Offer to purchase: When a buyer proposes certain terms and presents these terms to the seller.

Office tour/caravan: A walking or driving tour by a real estate sales office of listings represented by agents in the office. Usually held on a set day and time.

Parcel identification number (PIN): A taxing authority's tracking number for a property.

Pending: A real estate contract that has been accepted on a property but the transaction has not closed.

Personal assistant: A real estate sales agent administrative assistant.

Planned unit development (PUD): Mixed-use development that sets aside areas for residential use, commercial use, and public areas such as schools, parks, and so on.

Preapproval: A higher level of buyer/borrower prequalification required by a mortgage lender. Some preapprovals have conditions the borrower must meet.

Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Prequalification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some prequalifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Preview appointment: When a buyer's agent views a property alone to see if it meets his or her buyer's needs.

Pricing: When the potential seller's agent goes to the potential listing property to view it for marketing and pricing purposes.

Principal: The amount of money a buyer borrows.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower's monthly mortgage payment. Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Professional designation: Additional nonlicensed real estate education completed by a real estate professional.

Professional regulation: A state licensing authority that oversees and disciplines licensees.

Promissory note: A promise-to-pay document used with a contract or an offer to purchase.

R & I: Estimated and actual repair and improvement costs.

Real estate agent: An individual who is licensed by the state and who acts on behalf of his or her client, the buyer or seller. The real estate agent who does not have a broker's license must work for a licensed broker.

Real estate contract: A binding agreement between buyer and seller. It consists of an offer and an acceptance as well as consideration (i.e., money).

REALTOR®: A registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS® that can be used only by its members.

Release deed: A written document stating that a seller or buyer has satisfied his or her obligation on a debt. This document is usually recorded.

Relist: Property that was listed with another broker but relisted with a current broker.

Rider: A separate document that is attached to a document in some way. This is done so that an entire document does not need to be rewritten.

Salaried agent: A real estate sales agent or broker who receives all or part of his or her compensation in real estate sales in the form of a salary.

Sale price: The price paid for a listing or property.

Seller (owner): The owner of a property who has signed a listing agreement or a potential listing agreement.

Showing: When a listing is shown to prospective buyers or the buyer's agent (preview).

Special assessment: A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative. Also a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

State Association of REALTORS®: An association of REALTORS® in a specific state.

Supra®: An electronic lockbox (ELB) that holds keys to a property. The user must have a Supra keypad to use the lockbox.

Temporarily off market (TOM): A listed property that is taken off the market due to illness, travel, needed repairs, and so on.

Temporary housing: Housing a transferee occupies until permanent housing is selected or becomes available.

Transaction: The real estate process from offer to closing or escrow.

Transaction management fee (TMF): A fee charged by listing brokers to the seller as part of the listing agreement.

Transaction sides: The two sides of a transaction, sellers and buyers. The term used to record the number of transactions in which a real estate sales agent or broker was involved during a specific period.

24-hour notice: Allowed by law, tenants must be informed of showing 24 hours before you arrive.

Under contract: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA (Veterans Administration) Loan Guarantee: A guarantee on a mortgage amount backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Virtual tour: An Internet web/cd-rom-based video presentation of a property.

VOW's (Virtual Office web sites): An Internet based real estate brokerage business model that works with real estate consumers in same way as a brick and mortar real estate brokerage.

W-2: The Internal Revenue form issued by employer to employee to reflect compensation and deductions to compensation.

W-9: The Internal Revenue form requesting taxpayer identification number and certification.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Will: A document by which a person disposes of his or her property after death.

 

 


Real Estate Agents In My Area California

Real Estate Agents In My Area California
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Real Estate Agents In My Area California

Houses For Sale Near Me California

Looking to Find Real Estate Agents I Trust in California ?

Are considering investing in real estate in California ? If you do, you must learn all you can about the market before spending a dime. Should you fail to do so, you could lose what you are investing. Read through this piece to make the right steps forward.

Do not be afraid to spend money on marketing. It is easy to just focus on the numbers and get fixated on how much marketing is costing you. However, it is important to think of the marketing as an investment in and of itself. If done the right way, it will only benefit you in the end.

Inspections cost money. However, if there are problems with the property that cannot be seen by the naked eye, you are likely to spend much more money in the long run. Therefore, think of an inspection like an investment and always have one done prior to purchasing a property. It may not uncover anything, but there is always the chance that there is something seriously wrong with a home.

Try not to overextend yourself. Don’t get overeager. Start small and work your way up. Don’t just assume that you can spend a great deal and make that money back. That’s an easy way to back yourself into a corner. Wait until your smaller investments can fund some of your more ambitious ones.

The rent you are getting from properties should cover their mortgage. Doing this will set you off on the right foot. You don’t want to end up having to dip into your own pocket to pay any part of the mortgage.

Think about adding business properties to your investment goals. Business locations can turn into long-term rentals, which makes them profitable and safe. Think about a business complex or small strip mall, which will give you several different opportunities when it comes to investments.

Do a little research into the city government for any properties you are considering investing in. The city should have a website. There you will find pertinent details that can influence real estate prices in the near future. Growing cities are usually great investments in California.

If you want to buy a lot of properties and hold them, be sure to choose a specific area to invest in. You will save time and money on maintenance and travel this way. You will also increase your expertise in the local market.

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Look for properties that will be in demand. Really stop and think about what most people will be looking for. Try to find moderately priced properties on quiet streets. Looks for homes with garages and two or three bedrooms. It’s always important to consider what the average person is going to be searching for in a home.

Get your funding in check prior to scouting homes. You are wasting time if you don’t know where the finances will come from. In fact, the delay after you’ve found the perfect home can be the difference between you getting the home and not! The best properties will always have a line of interested investors.

Any tenant you’re thinking of renting to must be screened thoroughly. Too often an irresponsible or unreliable tenant can do expensive damage or are perpetually behind with their rent. Before taking in anyone, get their references if you can, and conduct a complete credit and background check on them. When you exercise due diligence, you will have reliable tenants.

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Do not allow your emotions to get in the way while you are negotiating. This is an investment purchase, not a home you plan on living in later. Keep your emotions in check so that you do not overpay and end up with less profit potential. If you heed the advice given here, it gives you a much better chance to be successful.

Have a business account, and stick to using it. If you invest too much of your personal money in a property, you could lose money. This might leave you short on funds to pay your bills or take care of personal needs. Treat this like a business so you don’t risk losing it all.

Your rental contract should include the requirement of a security deposit. This protects your interests if your tenant leaves your property in an uninhabitable state when he moves out. The contract gives you the right to keep the security deposit in order to hire a cleaning service or a repair service to fix the problems.

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Learn as much as you can before making your first investment in California. There are a ton of books available on real estate investing. Plus there are many online (and offline) communities out there where real estate investors share their best practices. The more you learn, the better chance that you won’t make any critical errors.

Do not sign any contracts to buy a piece of land before you do your research carefully to confirm the ownership of the land. Hire your own surveyor to identify the property lines clearly. This prevents misrepresentation of the piece of property for sale, and it mitigates any future problems.

Don’t be taken in by slick talkers who boast that they made millions in real estate and that they can teach anyone to do it. The success stories always get more attention than the failures so don’t pin your hopes on being the next success story. There are no get rich quick methods that are sure things.

Have an extra exit strategy or two. When it comes time to sell, you might find it takes longer than you would like. By having a back up plan or two, you can keep yourself financially safe so you are able to move forward in your investment property career.

Real estate investing is a huge responsibility. Though you should make investments when you are younger, it is important that you are stable, as well. Get to know others in the community while you work on your savings account.

Real estate investing offers many opportunities, but you have to be aware of the risks to avoid losing your money. You can be pretty sure that your real estate investments in California are smart ones when you use the ideas within this article. Keep it in mind for the future.

 

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Real Estate Development - When is the Right Time to Get Started in Property Development?

One creative way to get started investing in real estate is to use a lease option. The biggest advantage of using lease options to invest in real estate is --control. This method of investing, basically gives the investor the right to possess -- be in control of -- and profit from a property without owning it.

A real estate lease option contract is a combination of two documents.

The lease part of the contract is where the owner agrees to let you lease their property, while you pay them rent for a stated period of time. During the lease period, the owner can not raise the rent, rent it to anyone else, or sell the property to anyone else.

The option part of the contract represents the right you purchased to buy the property in the future, for a specific price. If you decide to exercise your option to buy, the owner has to sell it to you at the negotiated price. The option part of the contract obligates the seller to sell to you during the option period -- but it does not obligate you to buy. You are only obligated to make rental payments as agreed during the lease period.

When the lease option contract is written and structured properly, it can provide tremendous benefits and advantages to the investor. If the lease option includes the "right to sub-lease", the investor can generate a positive cash flow by renting the property to a tenant for the duration of his lease, or lease option the property to a tenant-buyer for positive cash flow and future profits. If the lease option includes a "right of assignment" the investor could assign the contract to another buyer for a quick profit.

Lease option real estate investing, is a flexible, low risk, highly leveraged method of investing that can be implemented with little to no money.

High Leverage

It is highly leveraged because you are able to gain control of a property and profit from it now--even though you don't own it yet. The fact that you don't own it, also limits your personal liability and personal responsibility. Only if you decide to purchase the property by exercising your "option to buy", would you take title to the property.

Little to no money

The real estate investor's cost to implement a lease option contract with the owner requires little to no money out of pocket, because it is entirely negotiable between investor and owner. Also, there are a variety of ways the option fee can be structured. It can be structured on an installment plan, balloon payment or other agreeable arrangement between both parties. The option fee can even be as little as $1.00.

In order to secure the property for purchase at a later date, tenant-buyers typically pay a non-refundable option fee of approximately 2%-5% of the negotiated future purchase price to the seller. Depending on how the lease option agreement is written and structured, the investor could possibly use the tenant-buyer's option fee money to pay any option fee owed to the owner.

Flexible

Lease option real estate investing is a flexible method of investing because the terms of the agreement, like payment amounts, payment dates, installments, interest rate, interest only payment, balloon payments, purchase price and other terms are all negotiated between seller and buyer. Responsibilities of both parties are also negotiable. For instance, if the investor doesn't want to act in the capacity of a landlord, he could specify in the lease option agreement that tenant-buyer will be responsible for all minor maintenance and repairs and the original seller will remain responsible for any major repairs.

Financially Low Risk

It is low risk financially, because if the property fails to go up enough in value to make a profit, you have the purchased the right to change your mind and let the "option to buy" expire. Even if your tenant-buyer decides not to buy the property, you have profited by a positive monthly cash flow from the tenant-buyer's rent payments, and upfront non-refundable option fee.

Let's look at an example of a lease with option to buy structured in a way that the investor profits in 3 separate phases of the investment.

Profit #1: non-refundable option fee

Future sales price negotiated with the current owner is $125,000 with an option fee of 2% of the sales price. Option Fee you owe the owner is $2,500. The future sales price you set for your tenant-buyer is $155,000 and the option fee is 4% of the sales price. Option fee the tenant-buyer owes you is $6,200. You collect $6,200 from tenant-buyer and pay $2,500 to the owner and your profit = $3,700

Profit #2: monthly cash flow from rental payments

The Monthly rental payment you negotiated with the owner is $1,000. You set the monthly payment at $1,250 per month for your tenant-buyer. Each month you collect $1,250 from your tenant-buyer and pay the owner $1,000 each month. Your profit is $250 monthly positive cash flow during the lease period.

Profit #3: is set up when the lease option contract is initially written

The third profit is the difference in the negotiated future purchase price with the owner, and the future purchase price set for your tenant-buyer. Let's say the property goes up in value to appraise for at least $155,000. Your tenant-buyer decides to exercise their option to buy. You buy the property from the owner at $125,000 and then sell it to your tenant-buyer for $155,000. $155,000 - the $125,000 you pay to the owner = $30,000 profit.

Of course the key to making lease option real estate investing work, is finding motivated sellers and buyers. Finding these motivated sellers and buyers shouldn't be difficult. The continuing down turn in the real estate market, has created a large number of sellers who can't sell their property and buyers who can't get financing to buy. The seller could possibly get a fair offer to be paid in the future, by selling their property to a real estate investor on a lease option basis. A potential tenant-buyer could obtain home ownership, without having to qualify through traditional home loan guidelines.

One disadvantage of lease option real estate investing, involves the tenant or tenant-buyer possibly defaulting on monthly rental payments. This would make it necessary for the investor to come up with money out of pocket to pay the owner, and possibly have to proceed with eviction process. However, there are certain provisions that can made, and also various "contract clauses", that can be included in the lease option agreement, to deter buyers from defaulting on payments.

If the investor fails to do "due diligence" before entering into a lease option agreement, he could end up with a property that is unmarketable. There could be a number of liens on it, issues involving ownership of the property or it might be in foreclosure. By diligently performing research before entering into a lease option agreement, the investor can avoid these mistakes. A few things the investor could do is-- perform background and credit checks on both the seller and buyer, search public records in reference to ownership and property status, or do a title search.

Despite the few disadvantages, lease option real estate investing continues to be an excellent way to invest in real estate with little to no money and low financial risks. It also remains to be an excellent way to gain control of a property you don't own, to generate cash flow now, and possible future profits on flexible terms.

Bottom line-- you don't have to miss out on the lucrative profits being made by investors in today's real estate market

The more you understand creative real estate investing strategies, and apply them now, the more profits you will make in today's real estate market. Don't put off getting the real estate investing education you need -- to succeed in today's real estate market.

Learn these things and more:

  • Creative investing strategies and concepts for Lease option real estate investing, foreclosure investing, and wholesaling and flipping real estate.
  • How to structure every deal right so you make more on each deal and eliminate your risk.
  • What needs to be included in your real estate contracts now-- to safely avoid issues that could cost you thousands!
  • The most powerful legal clauses you can use to completely eliminate your risk in all your offers.
  • The step by step approach to invest in real estate with minimal risk.
  • How and where to research properties effectively to save hundreds of hours in time.
  • The best ways to creatively finance your investment properties.
  • How to know the true market value of properties so you never overpay again.
  • How to control properties with no money, credit or income verifications so you can make a lot more.

 

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Home Buyers and Sellers Real Estate Glossary

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent's office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of the property's value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of "Denver real estate" returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use "agent" and "broker" to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside 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 lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper's real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member 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 available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is 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 real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of real estate information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through real estate agents listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the Internet is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local real estate agent's Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today's real estate agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides all of these services it is referred to as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to change the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers now have to property listings and other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to consumers that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about access to property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now provides ways to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of an agent referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page the search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long run. It may change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate information?

Online real estate information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can save time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next step is to know where to look online for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

In the sections that follow, we provide strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information relevant to your decision to purchase the property. There are many real estate Web sites from which to choose and although we do not mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones listed here to be good resources in most cases or to be so popular that they need mention. One way to test a Web site's accuracy is to search for information about a property you already own.

Finding Real Estate for Sale

Despite the widely available access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other Web sites (primarily operated by real estate agents). An excellent starting point for MLS originated content is the national NAR Web site, realtor.com, which is also the most popular web site for searching real estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs have an agreement with realtor.com to display 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 will most likely still need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local real estate agents will also provide their customers (via email) new listings that are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This can be very helpful to a busy buyer.

There are also many Web sites that display both real estate agent listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Some of the more popular Web sites include zillow.com and trulia.com. These sites offer other services too. For example, zillow.com is best known for its instantaneous property valuation function and trulia.com for providing historical information. Another source of properties for sale is the state, regional, and local Web sites associated with brokerage companies; for example, 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 difference between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, at trulia.com you can shop anonymously up to a point but then you will need to click through to the agent's Web site for more information. Many new real estate search engines allow you to sift through listings without having to fill out a form. The best strategy is to browse a few of the sites listed above to find geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. Once you get serious about a property, then that is the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choice to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.

It also never hurts to search the old-fashioned way by driving through the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you are making a serious investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local business and standing in front of the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing a Web page printout.

Valuing Real Estate

As we mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is zillow.com's instant property valuation. Just type in an address and in and you get a property value. It even charts the price ups and downs, and shows the last date sold (including price) and the property taxes. There are other sites that provide similar tools such as housevalues.com and homegain.com. Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, these are only rough estimates based on a formula that incorporates the local county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly over a short period of time and do not appear to always track actual market changes, which are normally more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or other property specific or local changes. This is not to say these sites are not useful. In fact, they are great starting points and can provide a good ball-park value in many cases.

When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are other strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county's Web site. More often than not the county assessor's area of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you want to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, the local assessor's sites are really helpful. When you visit a county's Web site you are getting information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information on their Web sites. Many times you cannot only see the price a previous owner paid, but the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property valuation tools too.

Given the importance of valuation to investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate agents and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to get value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is to market the active property listings of its members, the system also collects sales information for those listings. REALTOR members can pull this sales information and produce comparable market analyses (sometimes called 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 property is by having a certified appraiser produce an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both the sold information in the MLS system as well as county information and then analyze the information to produce a valuation for the property based on one or more approved methods of valuation. These methods of valuation can include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences between the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, with an income producing property, determine a value based on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There are many ways the Internet can help you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at census.gov. You can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like outside.in or review local blogs. A blog is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and responding to messages. Start by looking at placeblogger.com and kcnn.org/citymediasites.com for a directory of blogs. Trulia.com has a "Heat Map" that shows how hot or cold each neighborhood is based on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.

Schools

When it comes to selling residential property or rental properties that cater to families, the quality of the area 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 also have their own Web site. These sites contain a variety of information about the public schools and the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

A recent addition to the Internet boom in real estate information is Web sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. You can search to find an agent with a particular expertise, geographic area of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The web site AgentWorld.com lets users quickly and easily find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. AgentWorld.com also enables agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent's web site where you will likely find the local MLS listings.

Maps and Other Tools

The Internet has made mapping and locating properties much easier. To get an aerial view or satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to maps.live.com or maps.google.com or visit walkscore.com to see how walk-able a particular property is. These sites can give you an idea of the neighborhood characteristics and the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other facilities that are within walking distance of the property. Maps.Live.com provides a view at an angle so you can see the sides of houses and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree street-level view for certain neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these satellite map Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The Internet is a very effective research and marketing tool for real estate investors but is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you time and money by enabling quick and easy property research and marketing options. Sites like AgentWorld.com also help you efficiently find a REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember, when it comes to Internet strategies for real estate: More knowledge is better. You need to use the Internet to build your knowledge base on a target property or to find a real estate agent with expertise you need. However, the big caution here is that the Internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.


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