An indispensable tool for real estate professionals looking to estimate the current market value of a property, comparables have definitely experienced a growth spurt in terms of popularity. But as is the case with pretty much every online service, not all comparables tools are as efficient and accurate as they claim to be. So how do we know how to spot a good one? Here are a number of features to look for in a good comparables tool:
- Accurate data and frequent updates – no use in comparing properties sold years ago or looking at transactions with fictional or non-existing sales prices; make sure the platform you’re using for comps has a frequently updated database and that it collects its property records from reliable sources.
- Look for advanced filtering options – the very purpose of doing a comps search is to pull out prices paid for recently sold homes similar in size, characteristics, and location with your targeted property in order to determine its estimated market value. But as you already know, property characteristics can differ greatly, even for homes lined up on the same street. Advanced filtering—ranging from number of bedrooms to year built, zoning and more—will enable you to perform a more precise search, while also returning a more accurate result.
- You only need arm’s-length transactions for your comparables search – transfers and package deals are not relevant for your search and will most likely alter the estimated value of your property. So look for tools that allow you to choose arm’s-length transactions alone!
- User-friendly, personalized search tools – as more and more real estate websites have popped up in the past decade, competitiveness motivated them to create a number of useful, user-friendly tools and features in order to set themselves apart. Some service providers now allow you to perform comps searches by defining a polygon of your choice on a local map; you can even plot your comps results on a map so you can present it to a client afterwards.
- Additional services to complement your research. For instance, PropertyShark.com, a real estate research website, complements its offering of comparable services by allowing users to look at extensive property reports for each property included in the comps search, to tap into the area’s foreclosure stats, while also offering accurate data on neighboring school districts, FEMA flood zone maps and more.
So how do you know if a certain comps tool meets all of these conditions? Well, normally you wouldn’t have to do a lot of research, as most online real estate services providers are really proud to offer such complex and user-oriented tools; so they will advertise them heavily! Furthermore, each platform has a description of services you can refer to before deciding whether or not to use it.
No doubt about it: mobile technology helps us save time and increase productivity; and while some industries may not see an immediate need to turn to such technological advancements, savvy real estate agents know better.
With both buyers and sellers now having access to countless ways of researching properties and inspecting the local real estate market, agents often have to step up their game and find new ways to stay ahead. Smartphone and tablets may assist them in this quest, but in order to truly benefit from the mobility these gadgets have to offer, the property information already available must be properly adapted.
Here’s where responsive design steps in, ensuring that a website is optimized for a great deal of devices, operating systems, and browsers, while also retaining all of its design features. Basically, responsive design shuffles and realigns content to fit the screen of the device, so that the user can easily access the most important features of a webpage and find the most relevant information regardless of the screen’s size.
This is exactly what PropertyShark did. Catering to the needs of users looking to get their information on the go, PropertyShark.com has recently updated its website design so that all available property reports can easily adapt to any type of mobile device. With home buyers now being able to research homes on their own, PropertyShark acts as a secret tool for all real estate professionals, offering immediate access to a great deal of property information and instantly boosting an agent’s credibility.
Offering in-depth reports for over 90 million properties around the U.S., PropertyShark provides real estate agents with instant access to wealth of property data, gathered from hundreds of public and proprietary sources. Depending on the area, users can find detailed property characteristics (when the property was developed, who owns it, its exact characteristics, up-to-date sales history, property value estimates, information about current zoning, air rights, and much more) as well as information on title documents, property ownership information, FAR, permits, tax assessment, all neatly gathered in one place.
Same goes for many other PropertyShark services, including its up-to-date foreclosure listings, pre-foreclosures, comparables, a real estate lead generation tool, even REOs for New York City. To find out more about what PropertyShark.com has to offer, check it out via laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet.
And PropertyShark is merely one of many online providers of real estate services, all betting on the changing scenario of the industry; fortunately, this works in favor of real estate agents, providing them with countless tools meant to help them stay up-to-date at all times, whether in the office or not.
What is mind boggling is that we as an industry have struggled for years trying to figure how to move distressed inventory. Mind boggling because we have consistently hid the data behind cumbersome registration pages and access fees, and charged huge buyer premiums at auctions. To think that these are all strategies designed to move inventory is somewhat hard to believe. Open access rather, should be the path.
To top it all, many consumer portals and sites have made it tough for buyers to connect with listing agents or sellers, by giving preferred placement to their own internal agents next to the listing, if that’s their business model. Others featured and continue to feature alternative agents based on a paid advertising model, in the process keeping the true representing agent who knows the seller and the property best, and can answer questions more swiftly and accurately, at bay and harder to reach.
Such and other practices have either delayed or outright derailed potential transactions, and to this day continue to hinder wider, more efficient buyer participation so the assimilation of inventory may proceed at a more healthy pace.
We’re excited to announce that we have unlocked access to all listings on ListedBy, specifically because giving real estate buyers and sellers immediate and open access to listings and to each others’ contact information is core to ListedBy’s vision for the site and the industry as a whole. We see this as becoming the norm for all real estate property portals and real estate auction companies.
As always, we appreciate our users’ feedback and suggestions. Giving everyone instant access to all listings on ListedBy.com once again is the results of your valued input. Now anyone can research MLS listings across the country, residential and commercial. The same goes for all distressed properties including REO auctions, government real estate auctions, residential real estate auctions, commercial real estate auctions and all other public real estate auctions and Buy Now/Best Offer listings that are active on ListedBy.com.
The main message we delivered through our presentation (SJREI021313) at the SJREI (San Jose Real Estate Investors) two days ago was that transparency, or its lack thereof, is a critical catalyst that is preventing the industry from being what it can be, and the real estate professional, agent or investor, from being as efficient and productive as they should be. The underlying force being that a new paradigm shift in real estate is in underway, fueled by consumer insight, powered by technology and new business models.
We stressed and showed how these models will threaten the existence of organizations, large and small, that refuse to notice the oncoming change and tune in to new consumer expectations in how the real estate business is handled, especially online.
This would include real estate auction companies and real estate auction sites, sites that enable REO auctions and real estate government auctions, and organizations dealing in any shape or form with public real estate auctions or foreclosures and distressed property data and listings.
Notwithstanding, regular consumer portals were discussed in the same context, be it publicly traded companies or startup. That the threat is real.
The good news was that the undercurrent also brings with it potentially huge opportunities for those same organizations who tune in to the change and adapt, as many have magnificently done over the years.
Within the context of a session meant to explain to experienced real estate investors what ListedBy.com is, we took the path of focusing on industry concerns that when addressed by platforms and open environments such as ListedBy.com, should result in far greater efficiencies (operational and cost) and productivity for the investor and anyone engaged in the buying and selling of real assets. This, on the premise that all technology we elect to deploy in business is meant to enhance one or the other, in some shape or form.
The paradigm shift would consist of three key pillars with transparency at its core. From these new levels of transparency, the benefits far greater efficiencies and productivity will be drawn. Lack of transparency, today a detriment to economic growth and sales productivity will be replaced with an environment where full transparency is an expectation. Vis:
We have a long way before everyone buying and selling real estate realize how deep the benefits of transparency would run within an organization, and how much of a boost in operational and sales productivity such transparency and access to information can drive.
If participant feedback at the session was any indication, the thinking behind ListedBy.com is definitely something more and more real estate professionals will be gravitating to.
WOW Inman News was the best that we have seen yet with some great moments and great feedback for ListedBy from users and some of the top industry pros!
Also never a bad thing to get to play a bit in NYC!
- As my esteemed colleague noted, the industry is taking more and more of the home buying process online and seems to be a real drive towards completing transactions online and eliminating the paperwork nonsense that we have dealt with for so long. This obviously was a big part of why we founded the ListedBy.com site. To allow users to not only research homes online but actually buy homes online, and we are excited to be a part of that for the industry as a whole. Ideally we would like to incorporate a paperless system into our site that would perhaps make it even easier for our users to not only submit offers on homes online but actually complete the transaction. Who knows, we might have made a partnership for that at this event.=)
- NYC is enjoyable and one heck of a place to go, but those stories that you hear about the airport at JFK are all true!
- It was a pleasure for me to get to chat with a couple of industry rockstars in particular that had some sentimental value for me. Won’t state their names as don’t have authorization to, but one CEO in particular still owns the site where I bought my first Detroit, MI property online that to some extent started the whole idea for creating the ListedBy site. It was great to chat with someone of his caliber for an hour and hear he actually really liked the concept of our site! Also, great to see a few good friends and partners like Bill from Revestor, the boys from NuOffer, my main man Hector from Trycera (All great companies to check out) and many more.
- We REALLY got some positive comments from a lot of the industry’s top agents about the website and saw that they really love the ability that ListedBy allows for them to have direct offers from the buyers, which allows them the opportunity to double their commissions by representing both parties. Also, agents and users all loved the new and improved page for service providers where you can search services for free like you would on a servicemagic.com and other similar websites, but with us of course it is all for real estate management and purchases.
- We once again had a helicopter to give away to one lucky user. Roger always tries to get it out of the box and fly it around, which sometimes results in the police being called. Luckily I was there to save him from himself! Another personal note highlight for me is that we got to have a great dinner with a killer view of the city with my big guy Roger. It was nice to have a moment like that with a great business partner and friend to look at where we have come and where we hope to go with the site as we continue to grow. As we all know, running startups and really any business has ups and downs, and takes a certain level of dedication. So moments like that, events like NAR Orlando and this one are really a big part of what makes it so enjoyable and rewarding, and why I am so thankful to all of you for using the site and allowing us to keeping putting out those 15 hour days to try and get better all the time.
To clarify, the gentleman noted in the photo there is Hector from Trycera, not Roger.
All in all it was exceptional and we look forward to being a part of many more events like this one in the future and hopefully seeing some of you there also. Who knows, you might win a helicopter, or even better, private dinner with me and Roger!
Interest Rates, Real Estate Auction Companies, Inventory, Inflation, Pricing Predictions
What we think you will see and how we recommend you act on it!
As my real estate mentor always did tell me, “My opinion and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee.” But for all those who care to listen, here is the way that I see the real estate market as a whole going in 2013, and some strategies that in my humble opinion could benefit our users.
To start, I will give some background to my opinions and what I have done so far to capitalize on the market. At the end of the year in 2011 and the beginning of this year 2012 I told all of my friends, clients and all those who would listen that I strongly believed that the bottom of the market had come and gone and that we would look back at 2012 and ask how much did we capitalize on it. If you look at the stats and all of the trends, that has proven to be true. The market nationally has started a slow rebound, and as predicted, the areas hit hardest by the crash such as Las Vegas, NV, and here in California have rebounded the strongest. With hopes that this would happen, I started investing very heavily in Las Vegas in July 2011 and since that point the market as a whole there is up 37%! My thought process has remained the same for the market as a whole in 2013 as there are still exceptional buys out there on a national level and in some of these key regions like CA and Las Vegas, and while they may not be the 15% cap rate rental properties that we saw every day for a while, the ROIs are still dramatically better than what you would get in the bank and once again I strongly believe you will see continued upswing in the market in 2013 and beyond. There are two possibilities for the market that I see that both result in pricing rising:
Possibility #1: The economy crashes hard once again and the fiscal cliff destroys the markets:
This, believe it or not, could result in house prices going dramatically higher, as if this happened it is likely that we would see some form of rapid-inflation which although a slow process would ultimately hit the housing market. This means house prices would go up not so much because the house is worth more, but rather because the dollar is worth less. This means that condo you bought for $90K could and will likely someday be worth $1 million just like how a house you bought for $2,600 in 1944 would be worth dramatically more today. Inflation always happens and it always at some point hits the real estate market. It is simply a question of how long that will take. If the economy crashed and we had another dip in the market briefly, it would create another exceptional buying opportunity before inflation kicks in and you can see that exceptional long term growth.
If this happened, the way to capitalize on it is by having as much leverage as possible. So instead of buying one rental property cash for $200,000, you would want to buy 10 rental properties with 10% down and maximize your leverage so you can pay off the loans with cheap dollars. It can be a bit in-depth so if you have questions about this email me through my user profile on ListedBy.com and we can go in to some extra stats and detail.
Possibility #2: The economy and the markets get a bit better
This obviously results in having the economy and the market in a better condition, which helps buyers to have the resources needed to purchase, which should continue a slow upswing in home prices and purchases as a whole as we grow. Also, note that many Americans with foreclosures that happened in 2008 will now have more than 5 yrs since that foreclosure, which for many is enough time to rebound their finances to be able to buy another home, which will also help the market.
As you can see, the stats and the details seem to point towards a strong market recovery regardless of the economy as a whole which is obviously great extra security for all of us who invest in real estate. I think that it is likely that you will see a combination of the two where the economy stays well and we see some rapid inflation also, which is why in 2013, I will be trying to buy as many units as I can the same way that I did in 2012 hopefully with the same result!