House Affordability Calculator has this nice Affordability Calculator, which, given a few basic numbers, helps one estimate the price of the house that will comfortably fit into the budget (yeah, those are the words they use).  It’s a nice tool for people who have been saving up to buy a property.  For me though, no matter what I put, it returns this:

Nothing new here, but it’s always good to get a confirmation from another source.

Changing the face of Limassol

Limassol, Cyprus

My brother sent me the link to this forum thread (in Greek mostly), which contains lots of pictures for the current and upcoming real estate projects in Limassol, which are significantly changing its skyline.  It’s one thing to hear about these projects individually, and see the construction begin in different areas of the city, and a completely different to see them all together on one page.

It’s quite impressive!

AgentPress – WordPress theme for real estate websites

Some time ago I mentioned StayPress plugin for WordPress, for those people who need such functionality on their real estate web sites.  Today I have something else to talk about – AgentPress theme for WordPress designed and implemented by awesome people at StudioPress (too much Press in this sentense, isn’t it?).

AgentPress is a commercial theme, but at a reasonable price of $99.95 USD.  StudioPress themes are built on top of their own Genesis theme framework, which provides a nice separation of code into a parent and child themes.  Child themes are small and manageable.  Genesis, by the way, is included with your AgentPress theme purchase.

What I liked about AgentPress theme was that it doesn’t only provide the design for a real estates website, but also an administration interface to manage the properties.  It uses standard WordPress posts for properties, with some additional fields.  You can control which fields you want to have and in which order.  There is a way to have both public and private fields, in case you don’t want to display everything.  It’s also easy to expand the functionality using the WordPress categories and tags.

The front page of AgentPress theme is awesome.  You have options to provide navigation either via pages or categories or both.  There is a nice looking slider with selected properties.  There are featured properties.  And you can even have featured articles there as well.  AgentPress theme supports multi-agent web sites, but I haven’t tried it, so I won’t say much about it.  There is a simplistic property search, which is good enough if you have up to a hundred properties or so. The theme has a number of widget areas, so it is pretty easy to control what goes where.

I tried the theme before a much improved WordPress 3.0 came out.  So I hope StudioPress will update this theme to utilize a number of the new features in WordPress, such as customizable menus and custom post types.  If they do, it will be much easier to extend the theme to your liking, with, for example, advanced search.  You can do things now as well, but some of them are no trivial.

Overall, if you are looking for a solution to a real estates website, I suggest you have a closer look at AgentPress theme.  There are plenty of options in both Genesis framework and in the theme itself.  It does the job and it takes seconds to setup.  At least you can buy yourself some time to build a more customized solution.

StayPress – WordPress plugins for property management and booking has recently announced there new project – StayPress.  Here is a quote from the introduction:

StayPress is a collection of plugins that will turn a standard vanilla installation of WordPress or WordPress MU into a property management and bookings system. Of course when I say Property, I actually mean any bookable resource of which there is a finite availability. So the StayPress system will be able to manage property rentals, hotel room rentals, conference rooms and centres, B and B’s, training rooms, bands, etc…

There is plenty of demand for something like that.  In fact, I’ve been working on a similar project about 8 month ago. But, unfortunately, it could not have been open sourced, and it eventually collapsed under the historical baggage that it had to bring over.  So, I’m glad that StayPress is coming up to fill the void.

The main web site of StayPress is not online yet, but ClearSkys blog entry had a screenshot (above).

Real estate property types

For the last few month, I’m working very near real estates industry.  The whole thing is pretty confusing even here, in Cyprus, where it’s in its infancy.  One of the small, but important things that I always feel confused about are property types.  What is a condo?  How is a villa different from a bungalow?  And so on and so forth.

Today I said – “Enough”.  I have to figure this stuff out.  Even if I will forget it all a moment later, I still have to run it through my brain.   But where to get the definitions?  Each web site seems to have its own idea of which types are out there and what each of them means.  Then I suddenly remembered about “define:” Google searches.  I don’t use it very often, but it saved me lots of time on several occasions.  Today is just one such occasion.  Here are the links to Google definitions of the most commonly used property types with my short summary notes:

  •  house – that’s as generic as it can get.  House is just about anything from detached to semi-detached, from village house to villa, through bungalow.
  • apartment – this one is also generic. Usually, this is a block of one or more rooms on a single floor of an apartment building.  There are many variations, of course.
  • flat – this is exactly the same as an apartment.  It’s just another word for it, used in some countries.
  • penthouse – this is a kind of apartment, which is usually at the top of the building.  Often, it is an expensive one,  because of the view and some outdoor space on the roof.
  • studio – a kind of a small apartment.  Think of it as a zero bedroom apartment.  Either it has no bedroom, or its kitchen is somehow integrated into a living room. Often, studio is the cheapest option.
  • condo – short of a condominium.  An apartment in the building, where common areas are jointly owned by all apartment owners in that building.
  • maisonette – a type of apartment.  Usually it spans more than one floor.  Often it has its own entrance, rather than a shared entrance with the rest of the apartment building.
  • villa – usually, the most expensive house.  Often outside the city.  It’s common for a villa to have luxury features like private pool and tennis court.
  • bungalow – often a one floor house, with large veranda.
  • cottage – usually a small, one floor house.  Usually outside the city.  Often has style and charm.

The above list can be generalized to just two types – house and apartment.  As you can see, there are only residential property types.  There are, of course, many more commercial ones, like office, shop, storage, etc. And then, there is land, which separates into land and plots.  And then there is probably something else.   But all that I’ll look at sometime later.  For now I need to sink the above list into my memory.