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Fri, Oct 20, 2017 02:56 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Find bargain real estate online


02/08/2008 - The national foreclosure rate is at a 22-year high. And it is expected to climb. But, despite the downturn in the market, real estate sites are going strong.

Maybe you're looking to pick up a bargain. Or maybe you want to know how market changes are affecting your home's value. Real estate sites can help.

Finding a house

Your first stop should be Realtor.com. This is the National Association of Realtors' official site. Realtor.com provides access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for free. You'll see houses listed for sale in your area.

But, if you want to find foreclosures, you'll need to dig deeper. Your county's Web site probably lists foreclosures. You'll find details on houses involved in foreclosure proceedings.

If your county's Web site doesn't list foreclosures, there are alternatives. RealtyTrac.com, Foreclosures.com and BargainNetwork.com list foreclosures and other bargains.

The sites offer seven-day free trials. After that, RealtyTrac charges $50 monthly. Bargain Network and Foreclosures.com charge $10 per week.

You should also visit HomeSales.gov. It lists homes that the U.S. government is selling via auction. Many of these are HUD homes.

Determining a house's value

If you find a house you like, you'll need to determine its value. Yahoo! Real Estate (realestate.yahoo.com) helps you calculate the value of a house.

Simply enter an address to see a house's value range. You'll see a list of recently sold houses in the neighborhood. You'll also see the date the houses sold, along with the houses' sizes.

Zillow.com's Zestimate also helps calculate the value of a house. Like Yahoo!'s site, it lists comparable recently sold houses. You can also compare the houses' price per square foot.

You'll see the price for which a house last sold. But pay close attention to Zillow's charts. These show how a house's value has changed over the past one to 10 years.

Staying current

Even if you're not buying or selling a home, it's important to stay up-to-date. Fortunately, real estate sties provide innovative ways to do that.

At Trulia.com, you can search for houses in your area. Save the searches or sign up for e-mail alerts. You'll be notified when new listings match your criteria. Or, find out when similar houses are sold.

The alerts are designed to help buyers find new listings as soon as possible. But homeowners can use the alerts to keep current on the market.

Zillow provides a wealth of information on the housing market. For example, it offers a heat map. The map shows you values in square feet for particular neighborhoods. At a glance, you can see how your neighborhood stacks up.

Zillow also offers a comprehensive real estate guide. Find answers to questions about mortgages, refinancing and more. There's also information on remodeling and working with contractors.

Of course, everything has a price. So check out Zillow's "Make me move" feature. List your home on the site. Then enter the price that you're willing to accept for your house. Someone might make you an offer! You're not obligated to accept an offer.

When buying or selling a house, Web sites are a good starting point. However, no Web site can replace the expertise a real estate agent provides. A real estate agent can help you navigate the buying and selling process.

Copyright 2008, WestStar TalkRadio Network. All rights reserved. Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: http://www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign-up at www.komando.com/newsletters.

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