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Where do I advertise my listings?

June 30, 2008

for-saleSeveral potential sellers have recently asked me about my advertising efforts. How do I advertise my listings? What works?  This post should explain my approach. In this declining real estate market most traditional forms of advertising, such as print advertising, aren’t effective at reaching potential buyers. It seems almost all home buyers begin their home search process online. They run searches on a variety of real estate sites and once they start to find attractive listings they contact a Realtor in the Tampa Bay area.

It is essential to advertise online and that is exactly what I do. Your home will be advertised on:

Realtor.com
My listings will be found on Realtor.com, the official site of the National Association of Realtors.

backpage.com
This is the online classifieds offered by Creative Loafing. Creative Loafing also provides a free weekly print newspaper distributed through a network of thousands of retail points of sale.

ByOwnerMLS.com
ByOwnerMLS.com is a Multiple Listing Service, that features virtually every “For Sale By Owner” property online. They have a section where they allow Realtors to advertise too.

DotHomes.com
They dub themselves “the real estate search engine” and offer amazing search capabilities.

Craigslist.org
Craigslist.org is one of the best sources for local real estate information. Just about everyone incorporates Craigslist.og into their home search efforts eventually.

Enormo
Their slogan is “Every property. Everywhere.” And they mean it. Search from close to 7,000,000 homes for sale all across the world on Enormo.com.

FrontDoor.com
This is HGTV’s real estate search engine. Frontdoor.com also offers great articles and helpful real estate data and information.

Google Base
Just about anything Google puts out is going to be good. Enjoy this highly visual real estate search engine.

HotPads
Hotpads.com is “the place to find your place.” They’re a map-based real estate search engine.

Local.com
A fantastic local search engine for real estate, restaurants, movie theaters, lawyers, grocery stores, florists, hotels, dry cleaners, health, finance, automobiles, coffee shops and more. Did I mention real estate too?

Lycos
A powerful online classifieds search engine that includes the ability to search for homes for sale in the Tampa Bay area.

Trulia
“The best place to start your real estate search.” Well, that’s what they say. I just might agree. Check them out.

Vast
A worldwide real estate search engine worth exploring.

Zillow.com
One of the coolest real estate sites on the web today. Punch in your address in the “Find” box and click “G” and you’ll soon have a rather reliable idea of your homes current market value.

Charles Rutenberg Realty
I’m proud to say that I work for the largest single real estate office in the United States. With over 2,500 Realtors out of my office alone you can imagine the value of reaching out to this powerful network of real estate professionals. My listings are given prominent attention on the Charles Rutenberg corporate web site.

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Here’s your sign!

June 26, 2008

One of the biggest mistakes FSBO’s make is creating difficult to read yard signs. Stand out in the street where cars will be stopped or driving by slowly and look at your sign. Can you read the phone number? If not your FSBO is virtually invisible. Potential buyers aren’t going to get out of their cars and knock on your door. If they can’t see and read your sign they are going to keep driving to the next FSBO in annoyance and frustration. Take a little extra time in creating your sign, because if you’re like most FSBO’s your sign is the extent of your marketing efforts. Make those letters and numbers extra big and on both sides of the sign. And then stick the sign where it is visible to traffic.

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JUST SOLD! – Hazeldon Estates

June 23, 2008

4611 Uzzle Way
New Port Richey, FL 34653

2 beds / 2.5 baths / 2-car garage $83,850

Very nice home with big yard, mature trees and plenty of character. Split bedroom floorplan featuring large living room that flows into an open dining room and back into bright and roomy Florida Room. The shingle roof is about 6 years old and the AC around 4 years old. Master bedroom closet features built-in combo safe. No flood insurance required! No Home Owner Association = NO FEES! Enjoy your morning coffee relaxing on your screened patio looking out into your scenic landscaped backyard. Hazeldon Estates is a gorgeous subdivision located near incredible shopping, dining, schools and entertainment.

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Pinellas County Charter Schools

June 18, 2008

schoolAccording to Wikipedia, Charter schools are elementary or secondary schools in the United States that receive public money but have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.

While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where space at a charter school is limited, admission is frequently allocated by lottery based admissions. Some charter schools provide a curriculum that specializes in a certain field– e.g. arts, mathematics, etc. Others attempt to provide a better and more efficient general education than nearby public schools.

Some charter schools are founded by teachers, parents, or activists who feel restricted by traditional public schools. State-run charters (schools not affiliated with local school districts are often established by non-profit groups, universities, and some government entities. Additionally, school districts sometimes permit corporations to open chains of for-profit charter schools.

The following is a list of the Charter Schools in Pinellas County, Florida:

If you happen to see an error in this list of Pinellas County Charter Schools please notify me! Thank you.

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Why “Foreclosures” May Not Be a Good Deal

June 14, 2008

Many real estate web sites and foreclosure database advertisements promote that their “foreclosure” list is the way to buy investment properties in the current market. Buyer beware! The word “foreclosure” does not suggest a real value, a potential for profit, or a good investment.

The Foreclosure lists that are sold by many online real estate databases and foreclosure publishing companies are an inaccurate source of investment opportunities for 3 main reasons:

1. Many Home Owners in foreclosure owe the bank and other liens (tax liens, child support, lawsuits) more than the house is worth, more often than not, there is very little or NO investment equity for an investor to buy into.

2. The real estate foreclosure lists are compiled based on only one criteria; Properties in Default. The notice of Default is only the first step of a four month process. Nothing in these real estate foreclosure lists guarantee that the property is for sale by the owner or that the owner is even interested in entertaining an offer or answering the door. There is a great potential for the investor to spend a lot of time evaluating real estate investment properties that may very well not even be for sale.

3. There is no basis provided to sort, filter or otherwise evaluate the properties by investment equity, real estate value or any other real estate profit determining value. Again, there is great potential for the Investor to spend a lot of time evaluating real estate investment properties that may very well have no equity or profit potential in them at all.

So how do I find a real estate foreclosure investment?

Consult a real estate professional, such as a realtor or seasoned investor. Discuss their real estate investment knowledge and background. Find out what they know about investing in real estate, buying foreclosures, buying fixer uppers, flipping real estate for profit, or just plain making money in real estate investments. If you do not know any, your best bet is to join a real estate investment based web site which exclusively advertises under-value, discount real estate investment properties for sale and promotes a select few qualified real estate agents and other real estate business professionals that will help you through your real estate investment. Look for web sites that compare asking price to market value so that you can easily determine the equity spread. Make sure it is a real estate sales site and not a Notice of Default publication (these homes are not for sale). And look for a FREE trial so that you can experience the product before you pay.

Find Real Estate Investment Deals at http://www.PropertyHookup.com

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Why You Should Use a REALTOR® to Buy A Home

June 5, 2008

04_03_5_thumbA common misconception among the general public revolves around the notion that all real estate agents are REALTORS®. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a real estate agent is only a REALTOR® when they are a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the world’s largest trade association. The term REALTOR® can only be used by members of NAR who abide by a strict code of ethics. The code of ethics protects homebuyers and sellers from unethical business practices and ensures that if the home buying or selling process is not treated ethically by a REALTOR® the consumer has recourse at the local, state, and national boards of REALTOR®.
Buying a home is a major decision. Before you begin your search, find a professional who will be a trusted advisor during one of the most personal, exciting, and, at times, stressful experiences of your life. A REALTOR®, with some basic financial information, can help to determine your buying power and borrowing capacity and can focus your search on homes that fit your needs and are within your financial reach. After your buying power is evaluated, a REALTOR® can help you to understand financing options and identify qualified lenders. Real estate professionals have the resources to find the homes available in a wide range of neighborhoods. They are also an excellent source for general information about the community as well as specific information about schools, utilities, and zoning. A REALTOR® can help in the evaluation of the property by providing information about issues important to home buyers. They can advise you on finding qualified, responsible professionals who can assist with inspections for termites, mold, dry rot, asbestos, faulty construction, lead based paint, roof condition, and septic tanks, just to name a few. A REALTOR® can assist in negotiating the price of your new home and the inclusion and exclusion of repairs, furnishings, and more. A REALTOR® will guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows smoothly.
Whether buying or selling your home, the use of a REALTOR®’s knowledge can guide you through the complexity of home buying or selling and can help you avoid delays or costly mistakes. Keep in mind that most people buy and sell only a few homes in their lifetime – REALTORS® do it everyday.

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How to Apply Online for a Mortgage Loan

June 3, 2008

by Brandon Cornett

The Internet has transformed many aspects of the real estate and mortgage loan industries. These days, you can take virtual tours of homes, track property listings online, and even apply online for a mortgage loan.

Consumer empowerment is always a good thing. But there are certain things you need to know before you apply online for a home mortgage loan. By researching the online loan process before venturing into it, you will be better prepared to take the right steps toward success.

Applying for a Mortgage Loan Online

It’s important to note that the mortgage application process varies from one borrower to the next. Your process, for example, will be influenced by the amount you’re trying to borrow, your credit history, your debt-to-income ratio and other factors. With that said, here’s how the basic process works when you apply online for a mortgage / home loan.

1. Review your credit report.
2. Determine your mortgage budget.
3. Make a list of online lenders.
4. Provide basic information at first.
5. Compare the interest rates offered.
6. Compare other elements of the loan.
7. Get everything in writing!

1. Review Your Credit Report

When applying for a mortgage loan, this should always be one of the first steps you take. You can be sure that mortgage lenders will review your credit report and credit score (two different things) with a fine-tooth comb, so it makes sense for you to review these things first. Make sure your credit report doesn’t have any errors or discrepancies. If it does, submit a correction request to the company with the erroneous report — either Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.

2. Determine Your Mortgage Budget

Before you apply online for a mortgage / home loan, you need to know how much of a mortgage loan you can afford. Don’t rely on the lender to tell you where your budget lies. You need to determine that for yourself. When a mortgage lender approves or disapproves a loan, they do so based on credit scores, risk factors, and other data-driven elements. They do not consider how the loan will affect your quality of life … so that’s your job. Use an online mortgage calculator to reduce a hypothetical sales price down to its monthly payments. This will help you determine where your mortgage “comfort zone” lies.

3. Make a List of Online Mortgage Lenders

Once you’ve completed the self-assessment process outlined above, you are ready to create a list of lenders that offer online mortgage application. These companies can be loosely categorized in one of two ways — they will either be (A) traditional mortgage lenders with an online application tool, or (B) a web-based lender who specializes in the online mortgage process. Examples of the latter include E-Loan, Ditech and Quicken Loans.

As a rule of thumb, stick with the online mortgage lenders who have been around a while, and those who have a strong reputation (like the three mentioned above). This is primarily for information security purposes. Empowered by the anonymity of the Internet, some unethical “lenders” seek to take advantage of consumers through their online application tools. This can lead to identity theft, among other things.

Before you apply online for a home mortgage loan, always make sure you are using a trusted, well-known mortgage company. It’s also a good idea to look for a VeriSign or e-Trust logo / link on their site. This will give you even more comfort by knowing the website has been reviewed by a company specializing in online security.

4. Only Provide Basic Information at First

Most online mortgage lenders will only ask you for some preliminary information regarding your income, debt, etc. They do this so for basic screening purposes — they want to make sure you’re somewhat qualified for a mortgage loan before taking the time to review a full application.

This is good for you too. By providing only basic information up front, you can find out if the lender is even willing to work with you. In this way, you can avoid filling out a full mortgage application for a company who cannot help you. This will also limit the number of credit inquires made by lenders. If you have too many credit inquires (by frequently applying online for a mortgage, for example), it can send a red flag to other lenders that you’re having trouble being approved.

5. Compare Interest Rates Offered to You

The interest rate is one of the key elements that determines the mortgage amount you’ll pay each month. So it should also be a key decision-making factor when you apply online for a mortgage / home loan. Many times, online lenders can offer better interest rates than traditional “bricks-and-mortar” lenders. Companies like E-Loan and Ditech have become extremely efficient at the online mortgage process. This obviously limits face-to-face time, paperwork, and other factors that can increase the lender’s overhead.

The world of online mortgages is a highly competitive one. If you have decent credit and are generally a good candidate for a mortgage, online lenders will try to offer you the lowest rate and best terms possible, in order to get your business. Keep this mind when applying online for a mortgage.

6. Compare Other Elements of the Mortgage

Interest is only one part of the mortgage picture. So when comparing online lenders, be sure to ask about closing costs, prepayment penalties, and other aspects of the “fine print.” For an excellent article on comparing mortgage lenders, click here.

7. Get Everything in Writing

When you apply online for a home loan, it’s absolutely critical that you get everything in writing. This is good financial practice in general, but it’s especially important with large financial transactions such as mortgage loans. For example, if a lender promises you a certain interest rate based on your qualification and credit score, ask them where it says that in writing.

Lenders are required to provide you with this information within a day or two of your mortgage application. This is a basic requirement of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA.

Conclusion
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to online mortgage loans. Elsewhere on this website, you can learn more about the types of mortgage loans, information about your credit report, and other topics related to home buying and mortgages.

About the Author: Brandon Cornett publishes the Home Buying Institute, a website full of advice on mortgages loans, house hunting, credit scores and more. Learn more or contact the author by visiting http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com

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