Hyper-Local Real Estate: understanding your home’s value

neighborhood home valuesby Dan Krell © 2010

The good news is that homes are selling. However, many wonder how sales data will be expressed within their neighborhoods. Unfortunately many are finding out that, much like weight-loss infomercials, individual results may vary. As the economy shifts, homeowners are looking to their own neighborhoods for viable and meaningful data; an awareness of hyper-local real estate has emerged.

The National Association of Realtors (Realtor.org) reported on February 11th that home sales increased from the third quarter in most states; the caveat is that thirty-two percent of the sales were for distressed properties (i.e., foreclosures and short sales). Preliminary figures for 2009 indicate that about a third of the metropolitan areas experienced an increase in median sale prices from the fourth quarter of 2008.

Regional data for Maryland and Washington, DC indicate a “warming” trend. Quarterly data indicate that home sales progressively increased through the second, third and fourth quarters of 2009. The NAR calculated an annual increase of home sales of 47.9% for Maryland, and 56.3% for the District. Area home prices have seemed to appreciate as well; the NAR calculated an annual increase of 3.8% in median home prices for the Washington, DC metropolitan area (including suburban Maryland).

Locally, data reported by the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR.com) indicated increases of sales (settlements) and ratified contracts of single family homes in Montgomery County during December 2009. Compared to the same time period in 2008, the number of sales increased 12.5%; while the number of ratified contracts increased 15.4%. Additionally, the year-to-date data indicate increases for sales (up 20.7% from 2008) and for ratified contracts (up 26.4% from 2008).

Differences in regional markets are due to a wide range of factors impacting each area. For example, differences between the real estate markets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and the greater Los Angeles area can be explained by differences in economic influences (which include but are not limited to employment, commercial, and industrial influences).

Although, the adage that real estate is regional still holds water; however, some have cast a skeptical eye towards the expression of the data to their neighborhoods. It seems that neighborhood data within a region can vary significantly. Comparing specific zip codes within a region can demonstrate that regional gains or losses may not be the trend for all neighborhoods. Take for example the comparison of several Silver Spring zip codes for December 2009 (as compiled and reported by the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc.):

The number of units sold during December 2009 increased compared the same time in 2008 for the zip codes: 20910, 20902, and 20903; the number of units sold decreased during the same time period for the zip codes: 20901 and 20906. The average sold price decreased in December 2009 compared to the same time in 2008 in the zip codes 20901, 20902, 20903, and 20910; while the average sold price increased in the zip code 20906.
neighborhood home values
Specific subdivision data could further demonstrate such variances; some of the data possibly revealing extreme deviations (positive or negative) to zip code and regional data. Hyper-local real estate is not only useful to home owners, but increasingly used by home buyers as well. Hyper-local real estate is not a fad, but essential for understanding your home’s value in a meaningful way.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 15, 2010. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell

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