Don’t waste your time watching HGTV! The internet is the best place to learn the ins and outs of the real estate market. Thankfully, we have LTE, WiFi, tablets, laptops and smartphones, and we don’t have to rely on old computers and dial up modems.
Here is our list of the most helpful and informative websites for first time home buyers in Massachusetts (in no particular order):
1. Massachusetts Land Records
All documents related to the ownership of real estate in Massachusetts can be found here.The site has links to each of the twenty-one registry districts.
2. Inman News
Don’t be overwhelmed. This is a news site for Realtors and Brokers. Take five minutes to scan the “Todays Real Estate News” section and you will be well informed about what is happening in the real estate business.
I know most readers know about Zillow, but in the off-chance someone stumbles across this article who has never heard of the site, check it out! The simplistic home page allows the user to enter a property address and instantaneously view an approximate valuation. The site has some room for improvement when it comes to evaluating multi-family properties, but it is a wonderful tool for the average user searching for a home. The iPad app is fantastic.
Hotpads was recently aquired by Zillow. The foreclosure heat map is a great tool to see which areas were hit the hardest by the housing crisis. The rent vs. buy calculator is an excellent tool. Its a great website to see what the rental market is across the state without browsing on Craigslist.
5. The Niche Report
This is another site intended for industry professionals. What an incredible wealth of information you will find here. The latest news, in-depth articles, charts and chatter from across the country. I highly recommend subscribing to the RSS feed.
We already know how to use Twitter to find real estate. Interact with other users, search for updates about communities, and learn about whats trending in your local #realestate market. Don’t forget to follow @RealEstateLawMA!
7. Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)
CHAPA’s mission is to “encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development.” CHAPA offers pre-purchase and post-purchase homebuyer workshops several times per week. In addition to the workshops, the organization provides information about lotteries and resales, and links to community based homebuyer counseling agencies.
Facebook is one of the few sites where you might learn about a property before its even listed! You never know who in your network might post something that could lead to a sweetheart deal for your first home. Even if you don’t use facebook often, skim or search your news feed for chatter about houses and real estate. If you catch a property pre-market, it will be a win for everyone except the real estate agents…
9. Real Estate, Real Problems
Here is the shameless plug for Real Estate, Real Problems! We may not be the best yet, but we are working hard to be the best resource out there for first time home buyers in Massachusetts. Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook if you haven’t already!
Jack O’Donohue is a Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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