We recently compiled a list of resources for first-time home buyers, and came up with a nice list of information from the National Association of REALTORS®, REALTOR® Magazine online, Realtor.com, and HUD.
Field Guides from NAR
- Field Guide to Due Diligence for Home Buyers
- Field Guide to Working with First-Time Homebuyers
- Field Guide to Buying vs. Renting
- Field Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance
Find our full list of Field Guides here, as other guides may be helpful to first-time buyers, such as Credit Scoring, Flood Insurance, Lead-Based Paint, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, or Land Investment. All field guides are accessible without a username and password, so anyone can take a look.
Products available for purchase through the Realtor.org Store
Resources from REALTOR® Magazine Online
- Handouts for Customers – See this large list of handouts for buyers and sellers on practical topics such as loan types to consider, how to improve your credit score, preparing for closing, and more.
Guides from Realtor.com
Resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Audit triggers, hidden moving costs, and March Madne$$
Have you finished filing your taxes yet? Worried about an audit? Even if you feel pretty confident on your math, check out this article from Kiplinger on ‘red flags’ that often trigger the IRS to take a closer look.
Moving is stressful. There’s so much time that goes into deciding what’s worth keeping, what’s worth selling, and what needs to be ditched completely. There are also additional costs involved, many of which aren’t obvious. CNN checks out the hidden costs of a DIY move that you probably didn’t consider.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will cost U.S. companies an estimated $134 million in “lost wages” this week. But do employers care? Not really.
Pepsi is rolling out a new shape for its 20-ounce bottle for the first time in about 17 years.
Have young kids or grandkids that are starting to question the whole Easter Bunny thing? Here are some clever ideas on how to keep the story going using modern technology.
The importance of homeownership, death of the check, and buh-bye Google Reader
U.S. News & World Report brings together studies discussing the importance of homeownership. Besides economic benefits, there are also social benefits. “Clearly, for most people there are distinct times to rent and own, based on income, marital status and other variables, and housing policy should provide a balance between these housing needs. However, given the ability of homeownership to generate family and community benefits, ensuring policies that facilitate sustainable homeownership must remain at the core of our nation’s housing policy agenda.”
U.S. consumers and businesses wrote 28 billion checks in 2009, a figure that’s been dropping about 1.8 billion a year. The deathrattle of checks started on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York put a halt to the daily $6 billion worth of checks flying around in planes from coast to coast. New technologies are quickly making even today’s use of checks obsolete.
Google has decided to shut down its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, as of July 1st. While blogs and RSS are yesterday’s shiny new toy, lots of people still rely on Google Reader to condense their information stream to a manageable flow. Forbes had an interesting piece on the shutdown, reminding us that although the internet is a ‘user-driven’ medium, it’s still controlled in lots of ways by corporate tech companies. Looking for alternatives to Google Reader to migrate your feeds? There still are several feed reader alternatives out there.
As a both a biker commuter and car driver, I know the frustration of reading bike riders’ hand signals for turning and stopping. People seem to do just whatever they want, if at all. Is this guy turning or stopping? An inventor has taken some of the guesswork out of the process with his new prototype helmet with built-in stop and turn signals. It’s pretty cool if it’s not too heavy.
In order to make the game more relevant to his 3-year-old daughter, a father hacked into Nintendo’s classic video game Donkey Kong and reversed the roles of the hero and princess. Now Princess Pauline jumps, climbs, and dodges barrels to save Mario.
Twinkies will be back! Is this a good thing or not?
The following Field Guides have recently been updated in the Library:
Association Mergers & Partnerships
Mergers and partnerships can be advantageous to a Board or Association for a variety of reasons, including: overlapping markets, similar services, geographic considerations, cost-savings, membership benefits and wider recognition in the marketplace. Here you will find information regarding association mergers as well as information specific to REALTOR® Association mergers. Plus, you’re sure to uncover valuable information pertaining to nonprofits in the collection of eBooks offered to you for free from NAR’s e-book collection.
Communications for Associations
In the world of association management, a key element to success is communication. Communicating includes how to deal effectively with staff or membership, or how to correctly transmit an e-mail message. The following resources help today’s busy association executive better understand and achieve successful styles of communication.
Creating Effective Advertisements
National Association of REALTORS® research shows that 27 percent of buyers used print newspaper advertisements to find information on homes for sale in 2012. However, only one percent of buyers found the house they purchased using print ads (Source: NAR 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). These rates have been declining: in 2008, 47 percent of buyers consulted print ads in their home searches, and three percent found the house they purchased through a print add. Whether you want to create successful classified ads—because many brokerages still use them—or you’d rather start advertising online, this field guide provides tips and considerations.
Effects of Hazardous Waste on Property Values
There are both pros and cons to living in an advanced industrial society. One of the ills of modernization is the hazardous waste that is often generated by manufacturing sites, energy facilities, and larger cities in general. Hazardous waste and its associated stigma can have serious ramifications on the value of the subject property, not to mention the values of surrounding properties and neighborhoods. This field guide explores how environmental hazards impact surrounding properties, appraisal issues, and more.
Knowledge of fair housing laws is critical for REALTORS®. This field guide provides resources, links, case law and more on this important topic. Also included are fair housing REALTOR® resources and our latest Fair Housing Poster.
Lead Based Paint
For many years, lead-based paint was used almost universally in homes and apartment units in the U.S. until it was found to have detrimental impacts on human health, especially in children. As with any environmental hazard, lead-based paint testing, disclosure and liability are issues of serious concern to REALTORS®. The following articles, studies, Web sites, and other resources provide information on all aspects of lead-based paint for REALTORS® and property managers, including disclosure issues, impacts on the industry, and lead poisoning prevention.
Money-Saving Tips for You and Your Business
Times are tough! Get money-saving ideas for your business and yourself. We’ve gathered the best tips, websites and e-books to help you out.
This Field Guide provides quick links to essential information on NAR’s 2013 Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Policy. Find out about the mandatory Code of Ethics training, Professional Standards Administrator training, and applying the Code of Ethics in real life. For a comprehensive listing of ethics and professional standards resources available from NAR, visit the Professional Standards/Code of Ethics page on Realtor.org.
Property marketing is always a challenge. How do you make sure your client’s property gets the attention it needs? How do you make it easy for buyers to learn about your property? Some REALTORS® are turning to single-property websites to feature an individual property on a dedicated site. Is the time and effort of creating a single-property website worth it? See what others are saying.
Transfer of Development Rights
Transfer of development rights (TDR) is one “smart growth” tool used to manage land development. TDR is the exchange of zoning privileges from areas with low population needs, such as farmland, to areas of high population needs, such as downtown areas. These transfers allow for the preservation of open spaces and historic landmarks, while allowing urban areas to expand and increase in density. This field guide details the basics of TDRs, processes used for creating successful TDR programs, case studies, and more.
Vacation, Resort & Second Homes
While the U.S. economy is slowly pulling out of a recession, 2009 was a turbulent economic year. In 2009, 73 percent of residential property buyers reported that they purchased a home to use as their primary residence. For the remaining 27 percent of buyers, the motivation to purchase an investment property is influenced by a different set of factors. The purchase of a vacation home is largely a lifestyle choice, often with the expectation that the home will become the buyer’s primary residence in the future. In 2009, one in ten home buyers purchased a vacation home. Here you will find information on the activity in the vacation/second home market as well as tips on working with the vacation/second home buyer. You’ll also uncover a variety of resources available from NAR in addition to updates on the RSPS certification.
2020: the next housing crisis, resilient agents, and a horse in the living room
Even as we’re still recovering from the last housing collapse, economists are forecasting the next crisis. Their best guess: 2020, as aging Boomers start leaving their giant suburban single-family homes for retirement living. The problem is there aren’t enough families in the following generations to meet demand, either because of finances or preference.
BloombergBusinessWeek has an interesting story this week on the rise (and so far mostly non-success) of Redfin, Zillow and Trulia. In looking at the internet startups that promised disintermediation, hollowing out the home buying experience as others had with travel agents, stock brokers and car dealers, the authors find that people still rely on the traditional agent for the largest purchase of their lives.
How can you spice up your listing photos? How about a horse in your living room? A REALTOR in Virginia helping to sell a $5.99-million horse farm is using a picture taken several years ago for a coffee table book that features the a horse standing in the stable apartment living room. The image was picked up by the Huffington Post, helping to generate some interest on the property.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released its blueprint for reform of the housing market. One suggestion is the elimination of both Fannie and Freddie, replacing the GSEs with a backstop guarantee much like GinnieMae does for FHA and VA loans. Some commentators feel this spells the end of the fixed rate 30 year mortgage as we know it.
We were shocked and saddened to learn about the man who died when a sinkhole opened up under his home in Florida. We wondered if homeowners’ insurance covers sinkholes. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, it depends on the extent of damage. Standard homeowners insurance is required by law to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse” but to qualify to that level, the home must be so damaged that it’s condemned. Luckily separate more general sinkhole coverage is available as an add-0n. Wondering if there are sinkholes in your neighborhood? A new service from Floodinsight will tell you for a small fee. You can also contact the Florida Geological Survey.
Samsung is set to unveil it’s new Galaxy IV phone later this month. CNN reports that some are speculating that the phone will have scrolling controlled by the users eyes. When you reach the bottom of the screen the phone will sense it and start scrolling the page for you.
You want to start a garden, but you don’t have a clue what to do. SproutRobot can help you. Sign up for free, and SproutRobot will create a personalized planting plan and send you seeds to plant. If only I had a yard!
North Korea’s been in the news lately. The latest dictate from Pyongyang: the country announced 28 approved haircuts for men and women. Interestingly, the current leader’s coif didn’t make the list…
Field Guides are one-stop resource packages on dozens of subjects of interest to REALTORS®. On each page you’ll find links to articles, books, web sites, statistics, and other material on each subject. The list of the most-used field guides from Information Central for the month of February 2013 was released today:
- Field Guide to Quick Real Estate Statistics
- Field Guide to 1031 Exchanges
- Field Guide to Marketing Tips for REALTORS®
- Field Guide to Real Estate Office Policy Manuals
- Field Guide to Listing & Selling Luxury Properties
- Field Guide to Preparing & Staging a House for Sale
- Field Guide to Opening a Real Estate Brokerage
- Field Guide to Buying vs. Renting
- Field Guide to the Best Places to Live
- Field Guide to Short Sales
Have an idea for a new field guide? Let us know!
Several Field Guides have been updated in the past month:
American Home Week
American Home Week turns 58 in 2013 and will be celebrated locally April 7-13, 2013. This page includes historical information about American Home Week and more.
Appraisal of Real Estate Offices & Selling Your Book of Business
Whether you own a real estate firm or are thinking of buying or selling one, it’s important to know what the business is worth. The following articles and studies can provide some insight into determining the value of a real estate firm and its assets.
Cell Phone Towers
Cell phone towers may bring extra tax revenue, greater reception, and security to a city or town. Despite these benefits, many remain skeptical of towers due to potential health risks, environmental aesthetics, and the impact on property values.
China Real Estate
China has a growing interest in real estate, both in China and in the United States. Wealthy Chinese buyers are investing in bricks and mortar. In this NEW Field Guide, you will find Chinese-language real estate listings, current articles about real estate in China, Chinese buyers in the U.S., books, websites and upcoming property events.
Feng Shui and Vaastu
Feng Shui (meaning Wind and Water in Chinese) is the ancient art of placement to promote harmony, wealth, success and health. A working knowledge of Feng Shui can help when buying or selling a home in today’s multicultural world. Vaastu is an ancient Indian system of harnessing the positive energy of the environment to benefit those living there. Vaastu uses a complex, 3-layer grid system to provide the best layout for a home, office or commercial site. An ideal house, according to Vaastu, is perfectly square with a central courtyard. Get more information on these ancient arts and their role in real estate with the articles, books and websites gathered here.
Home inspections are a critical part of the home buying and selling process. Knowledge in the field of property inspection has become invaluable, especially in light of stricter legislation on both a state and national level. The following information sources will assist you and in turn, your clients, in understanding home inspections, the home inspection process and working with home inspectors. You will also uncover valuable tips on the importance of a home inspection and helpful links to a variety of professional home inspection organizations and useful information available to you from the National Association.
Marijuana Grow Houses
Nice home, privacy fence, oversized a/c unit are normal attributes of many upscale communities. Who would expect that behind closed doors there might be mold, electrical hazards, structural damage, pesticides and other dangers.
In 2011, over 800 grow houses were seized in Florida alone according to the DEA, but the epidemic does not only impact the state of Florida. Marijuana grow houses are popping up in big cities and small towns, wealthy and low-income neighborhoods across the country—the problem is no longer limited to California and Florida. Home buyers and sellers, landlords and agents, neighbors and community leaders alike can learn how to spot, fix, and understand the impact of marijuana grow houses in this updated field guide.
Preparing and Staging a House for Sale
Banish the clutter! Trim the bushes! Hide your Star Wars collection! Take down the family pictures! What can you do to prepare a house for sale? Here are tips, hints, thoughts and ideas for sprucing up, cleaning out, decorating, staging, creating a great first impression and making a house appealing to buyers.
Have you started to notice black and white squares on advertising, in magazines, on business cards or on yard signs? Created in Japan in 1994, Best Buy, Ralph Lauren, and movie advertising are using QR codes to connect with customers. Find out how to generate a QR Code, download the QR Code on your smartphone and then read the information. In this Updated Field Guide, learn about QR (Quick Response) codes, why they are a new form of mobile advertising, and how they can be used to market and sell real estate.
Researching a Home’s History
Ever wonder who lived in your home before you? Would you know how to find out? If your home is a landmark or if it housed a famous resident you may already know its history. Others require more effort and research. This field guide will get you started and also provide information on architectural styles of homes in the United States.
Also recently updated:
New eBooks in the Library
What’s new in the Information Central eBook collection? This month our featured eBook section is Sales Tips from the Pros. You’ll also find some of the following new titles in our “just added” section on the eBook home page: Full Voice, The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence, Can I Have Your Attention?, Idea Agent, The Power of Habit and many more. Interested in borrowing any of these titles from the eBook collection? Simply click on the title to make your request right over the web.
New Books in the Library
What’s new in the Information Central library collection? This month you’ll find books on Identifying American Architecture, The Signal and the Noise, 2013 Swanepoel Trends Report, Operating Ratio Report and many more. Interested in borrowing any of these titles from the library? Simply click on the title to make your request right over the web!
The origin of yellow ribbons and the truth about hand sanitizers
It started with the Iran hostages back in 1980 and now everyone has a ribbon for something. But where did those ribbons first come from? What sparked the symbol? The Library of Congress has an interesting page on the genesis of ribbons.
Hand sanitizers and those dispensers are everywhere these days. But how effective are alcohol gels at preventing the spread of germs and viruses? Surprisingly, not as great as you’d expect. Some brands actually seem to promote the growth of certain bacteria. The solution? Good old soap and water seem to be as if not more effective than some gels.