If you're like me, you're tired of weeding through advertisements and registration-required sites to access real estate information and research. I've compiled this list of free sites that provide research on real estate listings, the housing bubble, mortgages, average and median sales prices and statistics, and more. Contact me with useful links to add!





So, what is a housing or real estate bubble, anyway?
Wikipedia:
A real estate bubble or property bubble (or housing bubble for residential markets) is a type of economic bubble that occurs periodically in local or global real estate markets. It is characterized by rapid speculative increases in the valuations of real property such as housing until they reach unsustainable levels relative to incomes and other economic elements, followed by decreases (also known as a house price crash or a market correction) that can result in many owners holding negative equity (a mortgage debt higher than the value of the property). Just like any type of economic bubble, it is difficult for many to identify except in hindsight, after the crash.


When the stock market crashed, it was sudden. Why are housing price increases slowing down but not declining suddenly?
Unlike a stock market crash following a bubble, a real-estate "crash" is usually a slower process, because sellers just decide not to sell. Historically due to inflation, prices do not fall in nominal terms, rather they stay "flat" for a period of 3-5 years. In select markets though, housing prices have fallen in real and nominal dollars, such as Los Angeles during the early to mid 1990s. Due to low inflation in most countries, future corrections may result in a fall in both real and nominal house values.

Top quality research:








Beware of Predatory Lending!


The State of California provides the following information on predatory lending. I urge you to take their comments to heart. I have personally experienced these tactics, employed by Bank of Internet (a.k.a. AIM Loan). Fortunately, I escaped unscathed but it took months to get all of my money back.

What is Predatory Lending?
  • The term "predatory lending" encompasses a variety of home mortgage lending practices. Predatory lenders often try to pressure consumers into signing loan agreements they cannot afford or simply are not in the consumers best interest. Often, through the use of false promises and deceptive sales tactics, borrowers are convinced to sign a loan contract before they have had a chance to review the paperwork and do the math to determine whether they can truly afford the loan.
  • Predatory loans carry high up-front fees that are added to the balance, decreasing the homeowners equity. Loan amounts are usually based on the borrowers home equity without consideration of the borrowers ability to make the scheduled payments. When borrowers have trouble repaying the debt, they are often encouraged to refinance the loan into another unaffordable, high-fee loan that rarely provides economic benefit to the consumer. This cycle of high-cost loan refinancing can ultimately deplete the homeowners equity and result in foreclosure.
  • Predatory lending practices specifically prohibited by law include:
    • Flipping the frequent making of new loans to refinance existing loans
    • Packing the selling of additional products without the borrowers informed consent
    • Charging excessive fees


Beware of these Predatory Lending Tactics
  • Exceedingly high interest rates and inflated fees in comparison with other lenders.
  • Bait and switch tactics where a mortgage broker or lender knowingly offers one set of terms which are more appealing but are not readily available and then pressures the borrower into signing a contract with more expensive terms and hidden fees.
  • Door-to-door high pressure salespersons and pitches for home equity loans related to home improvement contracts or contracts for the installation of items such as drapes and carpets.
  • Salespersons with backgrounds similar to yours who attempt to gain your trust. This tactic is oftentimes used to lull a homeowner into a false sense of security, causing the homeowner to make a decision based on trust instead of knowledge and understanding.
  • Mail, radio and television ads that claim "No job! No credit! No problem! You can still qualify for a loan based on your home equity." These ads encourage you to place your home at risk. If you cant make the payments, you will lose your home! Offers that sound too good to be true, usually are.
  • High-pressure sales tactics requiring you to sign a loan contract right away. If the offer is good today, it should probably be good tomorrow, AFTER you have reviewed the contract and have consulted a knowledgeable, uninvolved advisor.




Real Estate News



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Jack Guttentag, The Mortgage Professor

Be sure to visit Jack Guttentag, The Mortgage Professor. The Professor of Finance Emeritus at the famed Wharton School of Business is dedicating his time to help consumers make better real estate decisions.


Zillow.com

Zillow provides impartial information on real estate properties, including actual sales prices. Don't believe real estate agents or the listing services they operate! Prices they advertise are not what buyers are paying; they are simply what the agent chooses to disclose.


Real Estate Bubble


Below, you will find a list of links to free real estate listing web sites. All sites listed here require no personal information to view listings. E-mail me with additions to the list!

California



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