As we’ve seen in the recent past, a downturn in the real estate market can have repercussions in other aspects of our lives, from employment to consumer spending and beyond. One way to determine if your area’s improving is to compare your local real estate market to the national real estate market.
A few signs to look for in an improving real estate market can include:
1. An increase in sales of existing homes. Sales volume can be an indicator.
2. A drop in foreclosures.
3. More new houses being built is another sign that your local market is expanding.
4. Check if prices in your area have increased if you’re looking to sell a home or property.
There are many ways to keep track of these signs and indicators. Let’s discuss a few of them.
How Well Do You Know The Neighborhood?
When you’re shopping for a home, one of the things you can do is to keep an eye on the market for a certain length of time — particularly, the local real estate situation. Depending on how it’s going, you may want to tread with caution, especially right after the last housing market slump. To be cautiously optimistic during a recovery is a sensible approach. In Tulsa, which is my particular area, housing sales have risen slightly. This is the case at this point in time. To be more specific, the number of sales increased by around 100 homes over 30 days. However, the average price dipped to close at $143,000 from $148,000 the prior year. This decrease might be explained by the lower prices of foreclosed homes.
Nationally, home prices rose over the last month. This is good news because the surveyed cities have been suffering from a price decline lasting several months. In addition, foreclosures have decreased for the seventh month in a row. With less foreclosures competing for buyers, there’s a chance that prices will rise for homeowners who are ready to sell in the future.
Finding Accessible Local & National Real Estate Info
1. Seek information from your local paper. Seems obvious enough. If you’d like to keep tabs on your local real estate market, you can turn to a number of resources. Many of us may prefer to turn to a local newspaper like the Tulsa World or perhaps your local Homes & Land (which exists in web form as homesandland.com). These papers and magazines often share market news, interviews, and listings of homes and properties for sale. The listings themselves will give you a snapshot of what types of homes are for sale in various parts of your area, the prices, and how quickly the properties are moving.
2. Go online and utilize a lot of free sites.
These days, you can’t escape the web. In fact, it would be foolish not to jump online to do some of your research. Any requirement you have today that calls for research should include a swing around the Internet. So let’s talk about a few places you can visit online for this sort of thing.
One good spot to check out your local real estate market is Zillow.com. It has a Local Info section with real estate market reports, comparisons of U.S. states, and a section for comparing mortgage rates. For the real estate market reports, you can find criteria such as home values, time periods of 1 to 10 years, and states or metros. Additional filters include home type, price tier, and number of bedrooms. If you’re wondering about relocating to another city or state, comparing your different options can warn you which areas will cost you more or how hard it may be to sell your current home.
Another site that offers insights into local and national real estate markets is Trulia. You can search for homes that have recently sold, see overviews for different cities, and view maps of home prices. The summary can be eye-opening, too. For instance, you can learn about the average price per square foot and median sales prices, and average listing prices in Eugene, OR and other locations.
For an overview of national trends, Realtor.org has housing indicators, articles, and maps. The housing indicators disclose recent numbers such as existing home sales and median prices, housing starts, and new home sales.
Of course, when you look at individual cities and states, some of them are likely to have slower recoveries for their real estate markets. These local real estate markets may have a larger number of foreclosures or lower home sales compared to areas that have seen gains recently.
And one last note — be aware that free data on the web may not be extremely accurate. They are said to be estimates — so you may simply want to perform your preliminary research this way. When you’re ready to dig deeper, you’ll have to do a bit more legwork.
3. Befriend a local realtor. Again, this seems pretty straightforward. But I’m not saying that you need to hire a realtor right away. If you are just interested in keeping tabs on the market, it’s great to know someone personally who can feed you information regularly without the pressure. You can tap them for occasional casual advice on the markets so you can “feel things out”. I have some sources whom I often touch base with to get the latest on neighborhoods that are of interest to me. Once you become more serious about a house hunt, then it may be time to find your ideal real estate agent.
4. Take a walk around the block. Visit the area you’d like to check out, put on your jogging or walking shoes and do what the locals do. Check the playgrounds, churches, community centers, neighbors, side streets, alleys, nearby commercial areas that are close to where you’d like to put down stakes. Or if you’re just curious about how your own block or neighborhood is doing, then snake your way around your community to see who’s selling or who’s just moved in. I find myself learning a lot about my own property’s value by paying attention to the sale prices of the houses that are next door. There was a time when almost everything was for sale where I lived. I’m glad that the selling has slowed down quite a bit and that prices are now stable.
5. Hang out with someone who’s buying or selling a house. Can you capitalize on what others are already doing? It’s not uncommon for someone to move to a great neighborhood, only to be followed by friends or family. So I’d recommend tapping other homeowners or home shoppers in your network or your personal circle. Carry on a dialogue with them and see if you can pick their brain or learn from their experiences. Markets change over time so it’s best to reach out to those who are currently in the thick of the process. They’re already doing some valuable, first-hand research, so why not hear what they have to say? In fact, if you’re close enough to them, you may ask to tag along to scope out open houses.
How is the real estate market where you live? By comparing the local market to the national market, you can end up with an assessment that can guide you when it’s time to buy or sell real estate. This can be quite useful, especially if you need to relocate or unload a home or commercial property.
Created May 12, 2007. Updated August 29, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.