In any transaction, information is a powerful asset. This is especially true for buyers and sellers in the real estate market, which is blessed with vast amounts of publicly available information that informs parties on both sides of the trade. Real estate buyers should always have a full appraisal (no pun intended) of the risks inherent in any given transaction.
That’s how the theory goes, anyway. In reality, it’s all too common for real estate buyers to pay too much, or to sign up for way more than they bargained for. On the other side of the deal, sellers frequently accept less than fair market value — not because they need to sell quickly, but because they just don’t realize how much their property is worth.
There’s no excuse for these failures. Not with so many first-rate property research resources for buyers and sellers alike. If you’re in the market to buy or sell real estate in the United States, be sure to use at least one of these before making or accepting an offer.
Trulia is a great resource for residential property buyers and sellers alike. Like its better known competitor, Zillow (see below), Trulia has a powerful arsenal of filters and analysis tools that provide essential details about virtually any on- and off-market home in the United States. Make it the first stop on your home search.
ParcelLookup is an extremely useful website that helps you find virtually any property in the United States: commercial, industrial, residential, municipal, and even locked-up properties like airports and freight terminals.
Zillow is another great resource for homebuyers and sellers. Renters and landlords, too. Even if you’re not ready to put serious moola down for a house of your own, you can use Zillow to find your next rental and rest assured it’ll be around when you’re finally ready to buy (if the day ever comes).
Redfin is even more information-rich than Trulia and Zillow, which is saying something. Its proprietary valuation engine often returns different results than either of its competitors, so it’s useful as a “second opinion” for your home search.
Like ParcelLookup, this is an under-the-radar website with millions of parcels in its database. While it’s tailored to the needs to homebuyers rather than those interested in commercial and industrial real estate, it’s useful nonetheless.
Curious about the history of the property you’re planning to buy (or sell?) You need to check Property Record before making any moves. Its proprietary algorithms are like nothing else on the market.
How Much Is Your Property Worth?
Until you can answer this question with a strong degree of accuracy, you have no business selling to the highest bidder. Buyers, too. Until you know the actual fair market value of any property you’re considering buying to the closest percentage point, give or take, you should hold off on making that offer.
Good thing buyers and sellers alike have so many great research aids on their side. Give yourself an edge over competing buyers and sellers, and ensure you get the value you deserve, by putting them to good use.