New Rules of Real Estate 2007

4 smart housing plays

From snapping up condos on the cheap to tapping the social networking craze to find the best deals, there are ways to work the housing slump to your - and your bank account's - advantage.

Tap the wisdom of the pros
Answer man: Flint's online forum helps buyers and sellers go straight to the source.
Strategy 4:
Tap the wisdom of the pros
The rise of online services like Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin loosened the real estate industry's stranglehold on property information. Now these sites are adding Web 2.0-style social-networking features to further democratize the buying and selling process.

Perhaps the best of the Web 2.0 apps is Trulia Voices. Launched in May, it's something like a Yahoo Answers for real estate. Questions about local housing trends are submitted by home sellers and buyers, and answers are provided, for the most part, by real estate agents. "It taps into a deep knowledge base about local real estate that's already out there," says Trulia CEO Pete Flint. "Today, people are asking more questions."

The housing downturn has made buyers and sellers even hungrier for information about their local market, while prompting previously Web-phobic real estate agents to offer free advice in the hope of attracting clients. Questions range from "Should I increase the buyer's agent's commission?" to "In what neighborhood are the best elementary schools?" Experts are ranked according to who provides the most relevant answers as judged by the participants. "The real estate industry has been late to adopt technology," Flint says, "but now we're seeing a real turnaround."

Be a carnivore

Go abroad

Hedge

Tap the wisdom of pros
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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.