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Resources for real estate analysts and valuers: searchable database websites.

Abstract

This is a column about resources for appraisers and real estate market analysts--books, articles in a variety of publications, presentations, data, and websites. It's about all manner of information for appraisers. This edition of Resource Center discusses the helpful information and data available in searchable database websites.

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Some websites are designed for the user to search internal database(s)--vast, accessible, repositories of information. These can be prime resources for real estate analysts and valuers. For instance, searching for listings and sales on an MLS website or on Loopnet.com, or finding information on Census.gov, are all examples of using database "portal" sites, i.e., doorways to searchable databases.

This article discusses some of these database websites. Visit the sites that you find of interest. It's good to know what they offer. Many have quite a wide variety of information. You will discover some that are incredibly helpful in your research and analysis.

In some cases, the site URLs mentioned in this article are the site's homepage, while for others, you are directed to specific search screen. (1) The methods of querying information vary from one such site to another. Some are completely free, some are free up to a specified amount of information or observation, some provide limited information with more for a fee, and some are membership or subscription only.

This article's discussion of the sites is based on general categories of information, but naturally there's some overlap among categories and databases. Within each category, the websites are listed in alphabetical order.

Some of the useful information you will find in these sites includes the following:

* Demographics, to better understand the "who" and the "purchasing power" of those in markets you study

* General economic, financial, and investment information

* Industry, peer, and consumer real estate information and news (things your clients and peers are reading)

* Investment alternatives, particularly for Wall Street types, which may influence real estate returns and pricing

* Real estate--related legal and regulatory information

* Real estate research, articles, data, and market trends

* National economy and financial markets updates, capital availability, and interest rates

General Business, Finance, and Economics Databases

There are a number of databases with general business, finance and economic information. These sites cover the US national (and, in some cases, regional) economy including various measures of inflation, employment levels, interest rates, financial indicators, and housing statistics.

BankRate (www.bankrate.com)

Bankrate is a business- and consumer-oriented site with very good financial facts and figures, CD rates, mortgage rates, loan calculators, prime rates, federal discount rates, and LIBOR rates. It includes rate trend index with predictions by experts and helpful commentaries.

Bloomberg Business (www.bloomberg.com)

Bloomberg Business is a general business website and a portal primarily for Wall Street, finance, and economic information. Unlike some Wall Street-focused websites, it has a real estate section with a host of articles, so your search has a good strong database. The site has helpful facts, statistics, commentary, and articles on interest rates.

Business.com (www.business.com)

The Business.com website has a variety of business articles covering finance, insurance, human resources, technology, and office management. It is aimed at the business owner or manager. This site is not as much a data resource as a purveyor of ideas for appraisal department management, owners, group or team managers, and researchers.

Federal Reserve System (www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/statisticsdata.htm)

The Federal Reserve database is searchable through the Economic Research and Data section of the website of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system. It has data, working papers, research, publications, and consumer information--indeed, there's a copious range of topics and authoritative materials in this website.

The Federal Reserve (Fed) has twelve district banks, located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Kansas City, Saint Louis, and San Francisco. Each has a website with available publications and research, with some overlap of information.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis's research site (https://research.stlouisfed.org/) is one of the Fed information resources, with a wealth of facts and figures. On this site you can search Federal Reserve Economic Data, or "FRED." Much of the data is directly downloadable, including down into Excel. FRED material includes important data of interest to appraisers, such as the following:

* Inflation rate amounts as indicated by consumer price indices (http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/ series/CPIAUCSL)

* Sticky price CPI and personal consumption expenditures

* Treasury bill rates

* Various interest rates and financial indicators

* Housing statistics (including the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city data)

* Composite Home Price Index

* Retail and wholesale trade

* Demographic data

The St. Louis Federal Reserve website also has a number of publications that discuss economic topics, such as Review, The Regional Economist, and Economic Synopses. Also available are data trends publications, including US Financial Data and various working papers.

This site also has extensive data tools enabling users to create their own graphs and maps. You can register and subscribe to email notifications of publication and data updates, create personalized lists of economic data, save customized graphs and maps, and access the FRED API, which is a web service that allows you to write programs, build applications that retrieve economic data from the "FRED" and "ALFRED" (Archival FRED information), and integrate data with your own software packages.

Forbes (www.forbes.com)

The Forbes.com website is the main site for Forbes business magazine. It is a good site for current business news and a database for business articles of all types. Its article database may be helpful for appraisal researchers seeking to learn more about specific industries as well as some real estate matters and markets.

Investopedia (www.investopedia.com)

The Investopedia site is educational, with material primarily about the various securities of Wall Street (bonds, stocks, and various types of investment instruments). Wall Street information is important to real estate analysts because of its relationship to the overall economy and the trading of real estate investment trusts. Also, for appraisers who may need to consider various Wall Street and financial instruments as investment alternatives to real estate (principle of substitution), this site has helpful substance.

Investopedia has a quite respectable investments dictionary; an outstanding section on technical analysis; and helpful explanations of options, futures, accounting terms, taxes, bonds, and acronyms. One of the treasures on this site is the "Tutorials" section (http://www.investopedia. com/university/%23ixzz3gekzn3k0/). Check out the numerous detailed tutorials offered on topics such as investment alternatives, accounting basics, bonds, real estate investments, the money market, the Federal Reserve, financial statement analysis, inflation, banking, credit alternatives, corporate finance, the banking system, ETFs, intro to insurance, macro- and microeconomics, options, and more.

MarketWatch (www.marketwatch.com)

MarketWatch is a multipurpose business and investment website with content primarily for Wall Street and finance-oriented articles, material, facts, and statistics. General commercial appraisers and analysts can use this site for US economic information and material about Wall Street investment alternatives to real estate. The "Search" part of the site may be used to find articles and data on real estate and some appraisal topics as well.

The "Real Estate" section (a click-tab selection on the homepage) has general/commercial and residential trends, real estate headlines from various sources, and current mortgage interest rates. The "Economy" tab has ample current articles and resources. The site has a heavy load of advertising and sponsored items, but it nevertheless has a lot of red meat.

S&P Dow Jones Indices (www.us.spindices.com)

The website for S&P Dow Jones Indices offers a variety of indices by asset class and region. For example, for real estate there are the S&P Case-Schiller (2) Housing Price Index and US REIT indices. (3) This site also includes information on investments and returns on real estate investment alternatives such as fixed-income securities and relatively low-risk securities (such as treasuries, municipal bonds, mortgage-backed securities), and equities, i.e. stocks and other such investments. It also has a section on research and education.

The Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) website is not just for Wall Street topics. It allows for search of the WSJ's bounty of articles on all sorts of subjects, current and past Because the publication has such extensive topic coverage, it is a great resource for information about real estate, finance and credit, economics, technology developments and trends, the regulatory world, retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and some legal topics. (4)

Real Estate and Real Property Databases

There are a number of real estate--specific websites, both residential and general, with real estate data, research, and general information. These sites have different databases and nuances, but generally include consumer and industry articles; research, blogs, and discussions; specific property listings and sales; terms and concepts; trends and market movements; and valuable glossaries.

Y. T. and Louise Lee Lum Library (www.appraisalinstitute.org)

A top-of-the-list resource for Appraisal Institute professionals is the easily searchable Lum Library of the Appraisal Institute. Simply go to the AI homepage, www.appraisalinstitute.org, and click on the Lum Library tab at the top of the page. You must log in to access the full text of Lum Library materials (see Figure 1); the public has limited access to the Lum Library.

Check out the "Instructions" section in the left column of the Lum Library homepage to get the most out of the search options (see Figure 2). You can design your search for your particular needs. Try the "Keyword search" box to find articles that contain the word(s) you enter--and look at the drop-down menu to the right of the search entry box for of alternatives.

Also, be sure to scroll down to the lower half of the Lum Library homepage, as it is chock-full of direct links to information.

Residential Real Estate Databases

Finding the subject property's listing competition may be a critical part of an appraisal. Appraisers should be familiar with what buyers, sellers, agents, and the appraiser's clients are reading. Beyond the local multiple listing service, many of the following sites may be helpful, too.

City-Data.com (www.city-data.com). City-Data .com has a large database with a variety of information about communities from a number of sources. This site can be used to augment other sources you may have researched for this type of information. Queries are made by state and city/town. Search results provide information such as banks and locations, building permits, business profiles, crime rates, housing, apartments, population, property tax assessment, registered sex offenders (mapped), schools and school districts, work and job information, zip codes, and a host of demographic information in tables and graphs. This site takes some drilling down, but it's worth a few minutes to see what's there for your own community and others you may work in or review.

Fizber (www.fizber.com). Fizber is a residential real estate listing and search site with a very large residential listing database and good search capability. It also picks up listings from Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, Yahoo Real Estate, and Craigslist.

Hotpads (https://hotpads.com). Hotpads is a national residential site with an extensive "for sale" and "for rent" database and search capability.

Realtor.com (www.realtor.com). The National Association of Realtors' website, Realtor.com, has residential articles, advice for consumers, industry news, financing rates and mortgage information, search capability for residential listings ("for sale" and "for rent"), and even insurance calculators. Check it out, and know what resources this site has--after all, consumers and many of your clients consult it. See, particularly, the "Data Center" (in the "News and Advice" tab on the homepage) for residential market statistics for various local areas. In the "Data Center," scroll down to click on the US map to see a metropolitan area of interest.

Trulia (www.trulia.com). Trulia has residential listing data with good search capability. It also has considerable, worthwhile consumer information, which makes it of interest to appraisers.

Zillow (www.zillow.com). The Zillow site includes not only residential listings and sales but also pricing "Zestimates," sale price trends, mortgage information, aerial photos, and data and market reports (see the "Reports" and "Research" tabs). Since many residential appraisal clients will have checked Zillow, it's good for appraisers to be aware of the Zestimate and the Zillow comparable sales and market data.

Miscellaneous Sites. There an many other websites with databases of potential interest to residential appraisers as well as general appraisers involved in valuation of subdivisions, apartments, residential developments. These sites include www.redfin.com, www.homes.yahoo.com, www.homethinking.com, www.ziprealty.com, https://homes.yahoo.com/, and www.finance.yahoo.com/realestate/.

Commercial/General Real Estate Databases

In addition to your local, state, or regional multiple listing service sites, there are other sites commercial and general real estate analysts or appraisers should explore for data.

CoStar (www.costar.com). The CoStar site is billed as "your source for commercial real estate intelligence." It is a broad-based site with information services for brokers and agents, investors, lenders, appraisers, REITs, institutions, and other real estate professionals. CoStar Comps is a database with search capability that's well known to most commercial or general analysts and appraisers. Other products or services that may be of interest include CoStar Property (available real estate) and CoStar Tenant. The site also has investment and lease analysis as well as risk analytics. Plan on some exploration to see what is offered on this large website.

Loopnet (www.loopnet.com). The Loopnet website is well known for its listings of commercial, investment, special-purpose property, and land. It also has a database of properties available for lease. Appraisers also may find helpful the Sales Comps section of the site and Property Records section. This website's basic services are free, but a lot more information is available to subscribers.

Real Estate Centers Databases

Real estate centers affiliated with universities have a vast array of real estate--related information, usually including market statistics, articles, and research papers. The below list of real estate centers is not exhaustive but highlights some of what is available. For more complete look at real estate centers, see the Fall 2014 edition of "Resource Center" in The Appraisal Journal.

* Texas A&M University Real Estate Center (http://recenter.tamu.edu/)

* Florida State University, Center for Real Estate Education and Research (http://fsurealestate.com/)

* Harvard University, The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (www.jchs.harvard.edu/)

* The Real Estate Academic Initiative (REAI) (http://reai.harvard.edu/)

* The University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center (http://realestate.wharton.upenn.edu/) and its newsletter covering current topics (http://realestate.wharton.upenn.edu/news/ newsletter/2014-05.php or http://goo.gl/HOTbXY)

* University of Connecticut, School of Business, Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies (http://realestate.business.uconn.edu/) and its library (http://realestate.business.uconn.edu/research/real-estate-library/)

* The University of Alabama, Alabama Center for Real Estate (www.arerec.cba.ua.edu/)

* University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy, Lusk Center for Real Estate (http://priceschool.usc.edu/research/centers/lusk/)

* The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (www.lincolninst.edu/)

Demographic Information Databases

Real estate appraisers and valuers use a variety of demographic information in their market analyses. You can find just about everything you need by searching the databases in the websites below.

US Census Bureau (www.census.gov). Within the Census Bureau website check out AmericanFactFinder (http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml or http://goo.gl/5VLYny). The Census Bureau and AmericanFactFinder provide access to government demographic databases. The sites are kept current, and you can drill down to subcounty and metropolitan levels. They are absolutely an education and information gem--experiment and drill down.

USA.com (www.usa.com). USA.com has some good, easy-to-find demographic information. For states and communities, the site provides materials and statistics on population, income, education, household information, crime rates, weather, air quality, environmental information, government, streets, schools, etc. One downside of this website is its plethora of advertising.

USA.gov (www.usa.gov). USA.gov is the umbrella portal for the federal government's databases. It is the entry point for searching federal agencies, services, and material. There are also access links for state and local entities. You can subscribe to emails from this portal for updates in your choice of a host of topics.

Legal and Regulatory Information

Legal information is often sought by appraisers and analysts involved in eminent domain and condemnation appraisals, valuations related to litigation, foreclosure appraisals, and various other assignments. The legal information and research sites described below (many with state links) provide a treasure chest of legal research resources. Some law school websites are described here as examples; be sure to check out the websites for libraries of other top law schools.

For individual state laws, you can check the legal resources available for a specific state using a xyzstate.gov search in any search engine or in the sites listed below. In addition to these resources and links, states normally have their revised statutes available online as well as agency regulations and rules.

LexisNexis

(www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/gateway.page)

The LexisNexis website is a long-time, respected source for legal, professional, business, government, academic, and risk management services. The legal professional section has information for various industries, including financial services, health care, legal, manufacturing, and retail sales, which may be of interest to appraisers doing research in one of these areas. The site also has a bookstore with available books organized by jurisdiction, since material needs to be germane and applicable in specific jurisdictions, and practice area, including real estate (http://goo.gl/tG15mN). The bookstore offers both hardcopy and e-books.

American Law Source On-Line

(www.lawsource.com)

The American Law Source On-Line website has, among other useful items, a link to the federal government laws and regulations, and laws and similar material for each state. The state information varies somewhat, but commonly includes the state constitution, bills in the current and prior session, the legislature's current and recent actions, legislative history, initiative statutes adopted and referenda passed, and, importantly, the current revised statutes. This website also has information about, or links to, administrative law sources, ordinances, state taxation, legal forms, and other material. There are also some links related to laws in Canada and Mexico.

Cornell University Law School

(www.law.cornell.edu/wex/land_use)

Cornell University Law School maintains an open access database and search portal for legal issues. It includes information on real estate legal matters such as eminent domain, valuation, easements, valuation, environmental law, mineral and natural resources, and much more. It also has a good legal encyclopedia. You also can search the US Code, federal regulations, state statutes by topic, the UCC, Federal Rules of Evidence, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and more on this site.

Find Law-State Laws

(http://statelaws.findlaw.com)

The Find Law webpage for state laws has a list of states; pick the state of your choice or browse state laws by topic. This is an information-packed site that is easy to use and straightforward.

HG (www.hg.org)

The HG website is a massive doorway database with legal information and laws (federal and state law as well as for 200 countries). HG.org is one of the world's largest non-subscription legal information sites, containing more than 4 million pages of edited content.

On the "US States" page (www.hg.org/usstates.html) scroll down to see helpful links to associations dealing with state and municipal governments, such as the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, the American Planning Association, and the National Association of Counties.

Under the "Articles" tab you'll find over 600 real estate law articles from the United States and other countries (www.hg.org/law-articles-realestate.asp or http://goo.gl/k3Ufz4). Related article sections include construction law, eminent domain, homeowners associations, land use and zoning, landlord and tenant law, property law, and property management. Moreover, the real estate law section of the site (www.hg.org/realest.html) has respectable real estate law information.

Under "The Law" tab there are a number of search choices, including US state law and individual states; click the state of your choice. For most states, there's a plethora of information about state government, its government branches and departments. You also can click on "legislature" for legislative activities and statutes.

Justia (www.justia.com/real-estate)

The Justia site has extensive legal resources, including a real estate section with information on significant court cases, specific real estate topics, legislation, and regulations. This is supplemented by links to additional web resources. This database's articles address topics such as adverse possession, settlement costs, deeds, easements, eminent domain, holding title to real property, nuisance, and toxic mold, just to name a few.

Nolo (www.nolo.com)

Nolo is a law resource site with valuable educational materials, accessed by clicking on the "Get Informed" tab. The list of legal topics is impressive and includes real estate, bankruptcy, foreclosure, landlord-tenant, small business, small claims court, wills, trusts, probate and many more (www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia). Nolo is also a resource site for state laws (www.nolo.com/legal-research/ state-law.html or http://goo.gl/M8veqR), with state-specific legal information beyond the state statutes.

Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Law

(www.law.siu.edu/lawiib/general/search.htm)

SIU Law School's website has a number of legal database links, including the SIU Law Library, US government information websites, state and local government information websites, general and topical legal websites, and how-to guides for researching legal information.

The Law Engine.com (http://thelawengine.com)

The Law Engine website does not include its own database of information but rather is a clearinghouse of links to statutes, libraries, courts, statutes, rules, regulations, and much more, making it well worth a look.

Westlaw (http://legalsolutions.thomsonreuters.com/law-products/westlaw-legal-research)

Westlaw is an online legal research service primarily for lawyers in the United States. Westlaw also provides proprietary database services. The parent company of Westlaw is Thompson Reuters, a business firm with extensive databases covering a variety of topics. Access to Westlaw is by subscription and through some libraries.

Additional Reference and Information Databases

In addition to the searching the Lum Library, you may find it helpful to look for articles, papers, and literature in other databases such as those mentioned below. The articles you'll find address a variety of real estate, professional, and industry topics that are of interest for those who need to learn more about a particular business or property type. The databases discussed next also are helpful to appraisers and valuers who need to supplement their research with broader information that is not specific to business, real estate, or law. These sites also are useful for identifying names of people who may be sources of further information.

General Reference Information

EbscohosLcom (www.ebscohost.com). Ebscohost is a general interest, broad-based resource site and database search engine. Space limits a full description here, but check out the database's resource list at www.ebscohost.com/title-lists. If you are a Designated member of the Appraisal Institute, you also can access Ebsco resources through the Lum Library--check out the "Ebsco information sources" and "EBSCO browse select resources" sections in the right column of the Lum Library's homepage.

TheFreeLibrary.com (www.thefreelibrary.com). The Free Library is a helpful general use database, reportedly with over 24 million articles and books. The homepage has categories that the user may customize for easiest access to the most common categories.

Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com). Google Scholar is described by Google as a bibliographic database; it indexes citations and/or full text or metadata of scholarly literature, books, and journals. Try it out by searching for real estate and valuation topics.

Highbeam.com (www.highbeam.com). Highbeam's database includes over 6,500 publications (with over 80 million articles), including journals (academic, business, education, science, and tech), magazines (business, computer, education, various industries), reference works, and newspapers. For a list of publications in the database see www.highbeam.com/ publications.

Infoplease.com (www.infoplease.com). Infoplease is a very complete general search portal. It has an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a thesaurus, measurement conversions, perpetual calendar, and sections on government, science, health, business, and considerably more. This is a great site to explore, just to know what all it has and keep it in your "favorites." The range of information is beyond impressive.

Library of Congress (www.loc.gov). The Library of Congress (LOC) website is an incredible resource. Anyone in business, and anyone doing just about any kind of research (including real estate) should be familiar with what LOC offers. Take some time to explore it. Look at the tab choices "Discover" and "Services" for starters. The website has a cornucopia of topics and information, facts and figures to discover.

National News

Many think that valuation and market research only involves looking for data covering comparable sales, listings, rents, costs, expenses, vacancy, multipliers, and rates; and in some cases, more detailed supply and demand factors, demographics, and economic trends. But sometimes much more is needed.

For instance, information may be needed about particular industries; businesses' changing real estate needs; functionality and design trends; public or private acquisitions; and announcements about regulatory change. An understanding of the market-knowledge environment at the time of a sale negotiation and closing, for example, may be critical to understanding the market and making reasonable, logical, well-supported adjustments.

In a retrospective appraisal, you may need to find general knowledge affecting a past real estate market and when something happened that might have affected the market supply, demand, pricing, and investor attitude and confidence.

The databases on news websites can provide such information. National and local news database websites also can help you locate individuals "in the know" for this type of information.

These websites may be invaluable when you need to know facts about a contamination event, spill, or natural disaster; a regulatory announcement; or a major economic event or announcement. News sites also can provide local information such as timing of announcements related to land use plan and regulations; highway or street widening; major purchases of real estate; contamination; tax changes; and community layoffs.

Some notable news databases for locating articles about events, announcements, and news impacting real estate include the following:

* The Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)

* USA Today (www.usa.com)

* Forbes (www.forbes.com)

* The New York Times (www.nytimes.com)

* Fox Business Network (www.foxbusiness.com)

* Microsoft Bing News (www.bing.com/news)

* Google News (https://news.google.com/)

* Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com/)

* Newsmax (www.newsmax.com and wwwnewsmax .com/Finance/)

* Business Insider (www.businessinsider.com)

* Mashable (http://mashable.com/business/)

* The Week (www.theweek.com)

* Inc. (www.inc.com)

* Library of Congress Business News Resources (www.loc.gov/rr/business/news/news_main.html or http://goo.gl/MhWACz)

* Bloomberg Business (www.bloomberg.com)

* Harvard Business Review (https ://hbr.org/magazine)

Other national news resources include abcnews.com, cbsnews.com, cnn.com, cnbc.com, foxnews.com, nbcnews.com, and msn.com. (5)

State and Local Information Sources

Most states, metropolitan areas, counties, and cities have a wealth of information available online. Explore websites with local focus that are maintained by financial institutions; broadcasting stations (particularly story archives); chambers of commerce; local and regional newspapers (particularly business newspapers); economic and/or industrial development authorities; realtor and individual realtor board websites; planning and land use commissions; brokerage firms' websites; state and local agencies; colleges and universities (particularly those with economics, finance, and business publications and research facilities); and transportation and engineering authorities, particularly intergovernmental organizations. Most of these types of websites include links to additional sites and other Internet resources--be sure to check those out too.

Trade and Professional Association Information

If your assignment or interest involves a special property type and area of interest, be sure to check out the trade and professional associations in that field. There are thousands of such organizations in the United States, and an organization or association or group for just about any field, business, activity, hobby or human activity you can think of.

Whether your analysis or valuation involves a special-purpose property, a property with non-realty components to be separated, or another head-scratcher challenge, (6) trade associations and professional organizations may be a good resources. Many professional and trade associations have information on trends, norms and standards, demographics, and especially names of people to contact for more information, e.g., authors, members, and leaders in the field. It is those individuals who may have detailed information about sales, rents, trends in the field, technological change and business outlook, standards or norms, points of obsolescence in facilities, and a lot more, which can be extremely valuable to you as a valuer or market analyst.

Appraisal Institute professionals can search for trade or professional associations by clicking on "Associations Unlimited" on the Lum Library homepage (see top right column; log in required).

Lists of associations are also can be found on the following sites:

* Rutgers University Libraries, Industry Research (http://libguides.rutgers.edu/content. php?pid=138993&sid=1239067 or http://goo.gl/ clQ9Kz)

* Weddles Association Directory (www.weddles.com/associations/)

*Wikipedia, List of (US) Industry Trade Groups (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of _industry_trade_groups_in_the_United_States or https://goo.gl/fuiQqU)

* Wikipedia, List of International Professional Associations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /List_of_international_professional_associations or https://goo.gl/8EtwY3)

* Concept Marketing Group (www.marketingsource.com/directories/associations/us/datasample or http://goo.gl/MwT6cO)

Also, don't forget the value of the services of a good librarian, either local or online!

People Search

You normally think of using a search engine to find information, facts, figures, and articles, but sometimes you're also looking for names of people to contact for information, confirmation, or insight. So, in addition to the previous suggestions for facts, data, or articles, consider the people search sources discussed below.

You can search for a person or a company on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other popular standard or metasearch websites, such as DuckDuckGo.com, Ixquick.com, Dogpile.com, InfoSpace.com, or Search.com. (7) If you're looking for a particular name, just enter it in the search box, no problem; but if you don't know the name, try entering the position and company or entity name in the search box, for example "president of xyz homes" or "officers of xyz development."

In addition to the standard search engines, you may want to try websites designed particularly to search for people. One example is PeekYou.com, which lets you search by full name or username. You may be surprised by what and who you find! You aren't limited to searching by name or username, either. PeekYou.com actually has a whole range of search categories like Interests, Work, School, City, Phone, and Email.

Other examples of people search websites include PeopleFinders.com, PeopleSearch.com, USA-People-Search.com, 411.com, USSearch.com, PublicRecordsNow.com, PeopleLookUp.com, PrivateEye.com, Pipl.com, Intelius.com/people -search.html, WhitePages.com, and for businesses, YellowPages.whowhere.com.

Conclusion

On the web there are thousands of choices for searchable databases. The sites discussed in this article are a good sampling of those helpful to real estate analysts and valuers. You can take a number of steps to ensure you get the most out of these databases:

* Become familiar with the variety of search engines (8) and websites with the types of information you use most often; bookmark and otherwise keep track of these sites, i.e., know where to go for what types of information.

* Find the best database websites and information. This may be tough when there's so much available, but that's a better problem than the alternative!

* Be discriminating and selective by not only finding information, but also filtering and focusing the results when deciding what to use. Valuers and analysts need to hit the nail on the head when solving the problem at hand without drowning in a sea of data.

* Avoid data-dumping in your files and especially your reports. Professionals identify the problem to be solved, research, find data, analyze, reach conclusions, and report those conclusions. The research must be focused and thorough so the report, above all, will be clear, concise, cogent and explain with focus and clarity the "so what" of it all.

You will probably use a number of the websites discussed in this article to access databases, and you also may have found other new and interesting ones. It's worthwhile to take a look and get an idea of what they offer. And if you have others sites or favorites not listed here, please let me know.

(1.) For easy direct access to the URL addresses noted throughout this article, read the column online at http://www.myappraisalinstitute.org/taj/default.aspx, and click "View current issue" (Log in required).

(2.) For the Case-Shiller home price indices see http://us.spindices.com/indices/real-estate/sp-case-shiller-us- national-home-price-index or http://goo.gl/4wnYQZ.

(3.) For the REIT Index, see http://us.spindices.com/indices/equity/sp-united-states-reit-us-dollar or http://goo.gl/a52n9n.

(4.) For content mainly involving Wail Street and general business information, check out investor's Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/ and Barron's at http://online.barrons.com/home-page.

(5.) In addition to researching news-provider databases, you may want use the following search engines to look for news-related articles: http://www.magportal.com/ and http://www.newslookup.com/.

(6.) Such properties may include special-purpose properties, amusement parks, subdivisions, hospitality properties, recreational properties, materials or resources processing, a medical specialty or, health-care facility, mining or other extraction, agricultural products processing--the list goes on and on.

(7.) For a more complete list of Internet search engines with descriptions and features of each, see the Resource Center column In The Appraisal Journal (Spring 2015): 150-160.

(8.) See the Spring 2015 Issue of The Appraisal Journal, Ibid.

by Dan L. Swango, PhD, MAI, SRA

Dan Swango, PhD, MAI, SRA, is president of Swango Real Estate Counseling and Valuation International In Tucson, Arizona. He is experienced In valuation and consulting Involving equity Investment, debt security, risk reduction, profit optimization, estate planning and settlement, buy/sell opportunities, and eminent domain. Swango is an instructor and communicator with domestic and international experience. He is namesake of The Appraisal Journal's Swango Award, past Editorial Board chair and editor-in-chief of The Appraisal Journal, and a current member of the Journal's Review Panel.

Contact: danswango@yahoo.com
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Title Annotation:RESOURCE CENTER
Author:Swango, Dan L.
Publication:Appraisal Journal
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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