The housing market is showing signs of returning. According to a recent report, home prices have posted a small gain and economists are suggesting that the housing market might be stabilizing.
Realizing that, and especially considering that first-time homebuyers are trying to capitalize on the government's $8,000 credit, sellers might be more willing to sell their homes than they were last year. If you're one of those folks, you'll want to consult some services on the Web that will help you get the job done. From valuation tools to agent search services, you'll have everything you need to make a deal on your house.
But if your house isn't quite ready yet and you're looking for some design tips to make it more appealing to would-be buyers, check out this roundup I wrote recently helping you do just that.
Sell your home
Cyberhomes: Cyberhomes' main focus is home valuations. Simply input the address of your property and the site will tell you how much it believes it's worth.
But Cyberhomes does more than appraisals. The site also provides a listing of homes for sale in your area, where you can find "distressed" homes you might be able to buy on the cheap, and neighborhood information down to income and demographic data. It's a full-featured site.
Domania: Domania can help you see how your home compares with others that have already sold, which is helpful since most homes are valued based on a number of factors, including recent sales in your neighborhood. It won't tell you the value of your home, but since real appraisals are completed by comparing nearby homes that are similar to yours, Domania should help you find the sweet spot for pricing your home. I was impressed by the sheer number of houses it listed on the site. You should find just about any home sold in your area.
Eppraisal: One of the first items you need to determine when you get ready to sell a home is how much it's worth. Eppraisal will help you with that.
As soon as you get to the Eppraisal Web site, you'll find a search field where you can input the address of your property. It will immediately provide you with an estimated value of your home today. It also displays a range of prices to show you how your home's value has changed over time. The site even lists what your home's value is estimated to be on both Zillow and Cyberhomes. On every address I found, Eppraisal was significantly lower than the competition. Keep that in mind as you consider your home's value.
For Sale By Owner: If you feel more confident selling your house yourself rather than going through a real estate agent, For Sale By Owner is the service for you.
Once you decide you're ready to sell your home, you'll need to create a For Sale By Owner account. It will cost you $80.95 if you want to list the property on the organization's Web site for one month. If you want the Platinum package, which includes placement on the site, as well as a yard kit and photo slideshow, you'll need to pay a one-time fee of $809. For Sale By Owner isn't the only way to sell your home yourself, but it's probably the most reputable self-selling site to list your property on, so keep that in mind as you prepare to list your home.
Homethinking: With Homethinking, you can search to find the right agent for you. Each agent provides a profile, listing their average sale, as well as their highest and lowest sales since they started selling real estate. If you like what you see, you can send the agent an e-mail from the site. If you're planning on buying another house after you sell yours, Homethinking also features listings of homes for sale, as well as neighborhood comparisons.
RealEstate.com: RealEstate.com is a nice site that will help you find some agents in your area. When you get to the site, you'll find a listing of all the agents in the city of your choice. Simply sift through those and pick which agent you'd like to have call you. Each agent has a star rating under their listing. That rating is the aggregate evaluation made by others who worked with those agents.
Although RealEstate.com is a nice site for those who want to find an agent, the choices are limited. That does detract somewhat from an otherwise useful service.
RealEstateAgent: RealEstateAgent is a directory for finding real estate agents in your area. Simply input your hometown and RealEstateAgent sifts through its listings to find agents who have signed up to be listed on the site. The search works well and I was happy with its design, but I would have liked to see more agents listed. That said, if you're looking to find someone quickly, RealEstateAgent might be the tool for you, since it lists the agent's phone number, address, and company.
Trulia: Although its competitors, like Realtor.com, focus on listing available properties, Trulia, which also lists properties, has one of the best advice pages on the Web for anyone looking to sell a house. So, while it might not seem like a site designed specifically for sellers, it does a great job of attracting them.
The first thing you'll notice on Trulia's "Advice" page is a handy question box, which allows you to ask real estate experts any question you might have on the subject of buying and selling real estate. You can also read blog entries made by other members of the Trulia community. If you're still looking for a real estate agent, Trulia will match you up with one. Simply put, Trulia's "Advice" page is full-featured. It's worth trying out when you get ready to sell.
Zillow: Zillow is another tool that will help you determine how much your home is worth. Simply input the address of your property and Zillow will estimate how much it believes you can sell your home for. Zillow's estimates tend to be slightly higher than the competition, but based on recently sold data--another metric Zillow provides--it looks like the site is spot-on.
Aside from appraisal values, Zillow provides a listing of homes for sale in your area. You can also see recent sales to determine if nearby comparable listings match your intended sales price. Zillow is a great service. It's the best real estate appraisal site I tested.
My top 3
1. Zillow: Zillow has the best valuation tool in this roundup. Try it out.
2. Trulia: Trulia's Advice page is a valuable resource for anyone looking to sell a house.
3. Homethinking: Homethinking will help you find an agent in several cities around the U.S. And it works quite well.