5 Tips To Track The Property Values In Any Neighborhood

by Millie Kay G. on 2011-08-2914

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.
homes for saleThese 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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

skeet May 21, 2007 at 7:35 pm

I’m waiting for our bubble to burst on Oahu. Don’t get me wrong. I love the 300%+ increase in my equity. I’m a realist though, and know that it’s a completely artificial set of circumstances. There are two-income families literally living in tents on the beach in my community because the housing market is so ridiculously overpriced that they can’t even afford to rent anymore. We need a return to sanity, sooner rather than later.

Mahalo (thank you) for your thoughts on the housing market and for practical tips on how to track it. It’s interesting to check on sentiments outside of my little patch of real estate.

Richard Geller February 17, 2008 at 9:29 am

What I love about your post here is that you suggest focusing on your specific neighborhood and the microeconomics of the situation, not big generalities. I have the same experience in my area, different houses and different situations. A mortgage short sale up the block. Unfinished house. A bank owned mortgage foreclosure, someone tried to stop foreclosure on the house but they failed. Now prices are slowly falling with more and more of this stuff piling up and very little sells.


Cyndee Haydon February 22, 2008 at 8:22 pm

So what does your block look like now heading towards spring 2008 – we’re seeing more foreclosures here.

Sarasota real estate June 10, 2008 at 7:00 am

Real estate prices in Sarasota have corrected almost 30% and are back to 2002 levels. Many owners’ equity has evaporated. Those who bought in 2004-5 are upside down. Those who stretched to buy homes with exotic mortgage products are in foreclosure.

It appears that we are getting close to the bottom.

Faruki October 13, 2008 at 5:57 am

The real estate market around the world has hit rock bottom. I know people who bought the property in prime market and now their property is worth around 20% less than the price they paid. Their property is now in negative equity.

Saying that, If you can afford to put a large deposit than this is the right time to buy as you will be able to negotiate a big discounts especially on properties that are on the market for some time now.

dean graziosi October 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm

The current state of the real estate market is reminiscent of what occurred in Japan 20 years earlier. I feel property values on average will drop 30% from their original values prior to the decline.

It is a necessary but unfortunate correction the US market must go through as a result of so many loan defaults.

Ryan November 7, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for your info. Here in Minnesota there certainly is some “blood in the streets.” Lots and lots of REOS on the market….thanks again for your post!

grata July 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

When you take a look around, you’ll see that the crisis is all around, and the real estate market has been heavily hit.

Philippine Real Estate January 6, 2010 at 3:36 am

The crisis really affects all industries but I’m still positive that the real estate industry will survive.

eWallet June 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Here in AZ there have been tons of foreclosures, too. In other places like in the Bay Area, though, the market is still strong enough to do well.

krantcents August 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Years ago, ZI checked the value of my own property online and found it to be inaccurate. I do not plan on selling and do not need the so called up to date information.

Silicon Valley Blogger August 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm

A lot of people do find the free information inaccurate, but could the data be relative? I take the valuation checks with a grain of salt but I do checks to get a ballpark feel for how the market is behaving. They are all estimates anyway. The most accurate numbers are from recent home sales close to your location of interest. It goes without saying that comparisons should be made as apples to apples of course. What are some other ways to scope out properties and pin down home values?

Brandy September 6, 2011 at 9:37 am

Lord God, have you checked the prices of your neighbors?? My two on each side barely take care of their properties, mine is an an oasis between the two. They drag my property price down.

Joey August 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Ordinary U.S. costs on predetermined mortgage loans have actually increased for a fourth straight week, staying slightly above an all-time low. Low-priced mortgages have helped sustain a modest property recovery this year.

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