Archive for September, 2011
Where to Find Real Estate Information
Finding real estate information online is easy. “Real estate” is a really popular Google search term, and real estate listings, pictures, prices, and other details are available from thousands of different sites. (See How Much Is My House Worth? for details about how to determine your own house’s fair market value.)
The trick is to know where to find real estate information. Just like researching medical issues online, you can’t trust every site offering “medical advice.” In fact, anything you research about real estate online should probably be discussed with a realtor, lawyer, or other real estate professional, just like medical advice you get online should be run by a doctor before you try it.
There are some good sites for information on real estate, but they are few and far between. How do you know if you’re getting good real estate information online?
Finding Real Estate Information Online
Finding good real estate information online means narrowing down thousands of sources of information into a workable amount, like two or three trust-worthy sites that have the info you need.
A list of the top twenty real estate information sites in terms of search popularity will look something like this:
Depending on the time you search and the part of the world you live in, your list may be a bit different. But in general, these are the sites that most people go to for information on real estate.
But looking at a list of twenty websites isn’t exactly “narrowing it down.”
To do that, you need to think about exactly what kind of real estate information you’re after. If you’re just looking for home prices in your area or an overview of the real estate market in your region of the country, you can basically point your browser to any of the above twenty sites and get your toes wet.
When you need more detailed real estate information, or if you strike out looking for your neighborhood or town at a real estate information site, you’ll have to work with one or two informational sites that offer the data you need.
Here are the two real estate information websites most likely to fill you in on the real estate details you need. You don’t have to crawl all over the web looking for real estate info–start at one of these two sites and you’ll probably find what you need.
It makes sense that the “official site of the National Association of Realtors” would be one of the most popular sites for real estate information.
Realtor.com is worth noting because it is good for casual browsing or more specific searches. Realtor.com’s search features are among the best on the Internet, the site contains the largest number of individual property listings, and the information at Realtor.com is extensive.
Realtor.com Home Features Search
If you are looking for specific features in a home, such as amenities, square footage, and even flooring and other home details, Realtor.com probably has it. Combine the customizable searches with a high volume of home listings and Realtor.com is the perfect place to start a search for real estate info.
A big knock on Realtor.com is the fact that you usually can’t see the full address of the homes listed. To get this information, you’re instructed to contact the agent listed with the property. This makes business sense, but it also limits the usefulness of Realtor.com as an online search for real estate info.
Every type of property is listed at Realtor.com from single family homes to condos, multi-family homes, land, farms, and even mobile homes. One thing you won’t find–new homes or foreclosure sales. For information on new homes for sale, Realtor.com operates a companion site at Move.com.
The searches at Realtor.com can be broad or focused–search by zip code, metropolitan area, minimum square footage, etc. You can search in multiple categories at once. When you get to your listing, you’ll find just about every detail you might need. There’s price information, yes, but also number of beds and baths, property type, the age of the home, construction details, etc. Since each listing is attached to a specific agent, there’s often even more details entered by the agent. It’s common to see agent notes about new dishwashers, pool features, sprinkler systems, etc. The problem here is that a bad agent means a bad listing.
Additional Tools at Realtor.com
With home buying tools (in the Finance section) and even a big chunk of the website dedicated to decorating and improving your home’s interior and exterior, Realtor.com is about more than real estate listings. That’s what you should look for in a real estate info website. Realtor.com is the best place to start a generic search for real estate, and if you are ready to contact a real estate agent, it couldn’t be easier than clicking a link to email a house’s agent directly.
Formed in 2005 by two former Microsoft execs, Zillow.com uses a unique algorithm of their own creation (called a “Zestimate”) to spit out a generic property value. They base this appraisal on their algorithm which is itself based on different factors, like location, recent sales of nearby homes, etc.
The idea behind Zillow.com is to give a seller or buyer a generic idea of the value of a property. In this way, Zillow can be seen as more of a marketing tool than a real estate information site–the marketing side of the site pops up when you notice property “improvements” noted in a property’s profile, and other factors such as “access to major roads”, and nearby property values. In other words–Zillow.com is a way for sellers and buyers to agree arbitrarily on a value of a home before negotiations occur, and it is most advantageous to sellers who can pump up the value of their property on the site and manipulate the “Zestimate.”
Zillow.com is hugely popular, listed consistently at Alexa in the top 300 websites in the United States. Currently tracking over 90 million home and property values, Zillow is a great place to start if you just want an idea of the value of a property.
How Does Zillow.com Make Money?
Make no mistake, Zillow.com exists to sell ads. Whereas sites like Realtor.com ostensibly exist to let real estate agents do business directly with their customers on the Internet, the goal of Zillow.com is to attract attention with good real estate information and make money on advertisement. Still, Zillow’s partnerships with hundreds of daily newspapers and affiliate sites means that their “Zestimates” have an air of authority.
The knock on Zillow is that their “Zestimates” are not really accurate. Zillow admits that they don’t take many factors into consideration when producing a value–most of the time, recent remodeling isn’t factored into a home’s value. At the same time, Zillow lets you check their accuracy against local home sales, so if you don’t believe a particular “Zestimate”, you can check it out right there on the site.
You shouldn’t start a real estate info search at Zillow, but it can be a good motivator to start a home search. There’s even a “Make me Move” feature which is like a fake public auction designed to inspire you to sell your home. Don’t use Zillow as a real estate Bible, but it can be fun to look up the value of your enemy’s houses.
Finding real estate information online isn’t hard–it is finding good real estate details that can be tough. Rather thank muck through the soup of real estate details available online, pick two or three sites and start your search small.
- How to Invest in Real Estate
- Where to Find Cheap Homes for Sale
- Where to Find Foreclosure Listings
- Where to Find Mobile Homes for Sale
- Where Are the Best Places to Retire?
Heat rash is a general term used to describe skin problems associated with heat exposure. Excessive sweating leads to clogged pores, which is the most common cause of heat rash. Once the pores are clogged they stop excreting sweat, leading to a flare up. Heat rash occurs most frequently during the summer and in hot humid climates. Most of the time the condition fades on its own, but severe rashes right might require medical attention.
Heat rash is rarely serious, but there are situations when it might be a concern. When babies and young children develop heat rash, parents should determine the cause and use gentle remedies to calm the rash. People who are bedridden should also find ways to alleviate the discomfort as soon as possible. Heat rash is a common problem for soldiers fighting in warm climates, overweight people, and those suffering from decreased sweating.
Medicinal Heat Rash Treatment
Allopathic medical treatments for heat rash are usually only necessary in very severe cases or when a person’s immune system or pain tolerance is otherwise decreased. Topical cortisone creams are one of the most common methods of dealing with heat rash. It is commonly used for itching skin, but also helps when skin is sore or inflamed. Steroid creams are also effective, but a prescription is needed and people who prefer to use natural remedies will want to avoid products containing steroids. Doctors might also prescribe oral or topical antibiotics, or oral antihistamines. These remedies are often a solution for the side effects of heat rash including bacterial infections, itching, or eczema.
Sometimes treating the rash itself is unnecessary. There are things you can do to ease the inflammation and reduce the discomfort instead of targeting the rash with medication. Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water content during an outbreak. Wear loose fitting clothes made of breathable, natural fabrics such as cotton. Spend time in air conditioning and avoid unnecessary activity.
Natural Heat Rash Treatment
Make sure the affected area gets as much air as possible and keep the rash cool and dry. As soon as you notice reddening or discomfort, wash the area with a gentle cleanser free of soap and fragrance. After showering, allow skin to air dry and consider applying cornstarch or fragrance-free baby powder to the area. Do not apply creams or lotions because the added moisture and chemicals in the lotion aggravate the problem. Showering and repeating these steps several times each day might be necessary until the rash has cleared.
Skin to skin contact often triggers heat rash. Common outbreak areas include beneath the breast, under the armpits, between the thighs, and under the belly. Protecting skin from contact helps avoid a breakout and reduces the length of an outbreak. A washcloth offers a barrier of terry cloth or cotton, and provides relief from irritation and discomfort.
Essential oils are another effective option for treating heat rash. The oils have anti-inflammatory properties and help relieve the itching associated with skin irritation. Adding oil to bath water or applying a small amount to the skin and letting it air dry are two effective methods for using essential oils as heat rash treatment. The best oils to use include peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile, and lavender.
In rare instances, heat rash develops into a condition serious enough to seek emergency medical attention. This is usually the result of an infection associated with an untreated rash. If your heat rash is accompanied by nausea, fever, headaches, dizziness, or vomiting, contact your doctor immediately.
Cold sores are rarely serious, but they are very painful. They occur inside of the mouth or on the lips, and are similar to blisters or canker sores. They are very contagious and are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores appear as white or red dots or bumps in the mouth and they usually tingle or burn in the days leading up to a full-blown outbrak. There is no cure for cold sores, but there cold sore remedies that reduce the severity and frequency of occurrence.
The pain from a cold sore typically lasts about a week. Natural cold sore remedies ease the intensity of the overall pain and shorten the duration of an outbreak.
Essential oils with antiviral properties are an effective way to deal with cold sores. Lemon balm is believed to reduce the length of a cold sore outbreak by up to 50 percent. Applying lemon balm to the lips and other areas affected by sores decreases the frequency of outbreaks.
Peppermint oil has been shown to combat certain strains of the herpes virus. Direct contact with peppermint oil can be dangerous and the pure form of the oil is dangerous if eaten, so use it carefully when using it as a cold sore remedy. Peppermint tea is a safe, pleasant way to utilize peppermint oil as a remedy.
Lysine is an amino acid and is considered one of the most effective natural cold sore remedies. It is found in food and various supplements such as red meat, dairy, wheat germ, fish, and brewers years. Researchers believe lysine plays a role in how much arginine (another amino acid) is absorbed into the intestines. Arginine is believed to be a trigger and an irritant for cold sores. Foods such as nuts and chocolate are high in arginine and should be avoided just before and during a cold sore outbreak. If you prefer not to include red meat, dairy or fish in your diet, lysine is available in supplement and ointment form.
Lysine is not the only chemical in food that helps alleviate the discomfort of a cold sore. Resveratrol is a compound found in red grapes and it is believed by researchers to suppress cold sore development. The chemical is used to make a high-potency cream that is a natural alternative for the prescription medications sometimes given for herpes simplex infections.
Other foods and herbal supplements containing chemicals that suppress cold sore development include Reishi mushrooms, self-heal, echinacea, black currant, rhubarb-sage cream, and propolis. Bees collect propolis from certain plants and use it to build and protect their hives.
Oral Health and Cold Sore Remedies
Each time you develop a cold sore, you should replace your toothbrush. This prevents the virus from re-infecting your mouth with remnants left on the brush. You might also want to store your brush outside of the bathroom. The moisture in the room helps the virus live longer, increasing the chance of infection. Your goal should be to keep your toothbrush as dry and clean as possible.
Sometimes preventing a cold sore is as simple as maintaining good health. Get plenty of rest and take supplements that boost your immune system. Keep stress under control because it can trigger an outbreak. Exercise on a regular basis and eat a balanced diet. Finally, recognize what triggers your outbreaks and do what you can to reduce your risk.