With recent news covering what appears to be a recovery in the housing markets, I thought it would be helpful to share with you why it's essential to have a thorough understanding of the “local” market, and how your Realtor® can help you when you weigh your options to buy, sell and invest in real estate.

National, state and regional news and statistics are helpful to get a general sense of what is going on with real estate, but they don't address the nuances of housing prices and sales that are unique to local influences. For example, these stories all appeared in the news last week:
Orange County Register: California Home Prices Jump 6%, CoreLogic Says
Huffington Post Business: Realtors - US Homes Selling at Faster Pace
US News & World Report: As Asking Prices Rise Again, Have House Hunters Missed the Window of Opportunity?
For each one of these stories, I have clients who have recently experienced the exact opposite of what the news reported. For example, not all CA home prices jumped 6%, some jumped higher and some actually declined. Similarly, not all U.S. homes are selling at a faster pace. I have a client who is wanting to move but is being delayed because her home is not selling as quickly as she thought it would. And the US News article that questions, “Have house hunters missed the window of opportunity?” The title alone is misleading as there are still many good buying opportunities for house hunters in most markets.

Regardless of what the news reports about the housing market, what matters are the specifics of the local market that you're interested in.

Some real estate markets are rife with micro-markets, where housing prices vary by 30% or more within communities not more than 10 or 15 miles apart. Within these communities there can also be unexpected price differences at the neighborhood level, and sometimes even at the block-by-block level. In micro-markets, there can be areas that are doing well and getting multiple offers, there's a shortage of inventory and prices are being bid up, while nearby, sometimes within just blocks or a mile or two, this is not the case. One of the most common problems I’ve seen is that a buyer or seller will assume that what applies in one area will be true for the entire area. This is where your Realtor can help you and really make a difference.

Most Realtors have local area expertise and can provide the knowledge and insight that is needed to help you evaluate whatever opportunity you are considering. The price of real estate is always local and a professional Realtor will know the history, trends and outlook for areas that you’re interested in. They can help you to evaluate the ‘local’ real estate market in a way that no news or statistics can, while also addressing your specific and unique interests. Your Realtor will also:
Attend local property tours and be knowledgeable of active listing inventory and history.
Know the area and understand what the influences are on property values.
Have relationships with Realtor colleagues who can help identify the best properties for you to consider.
Know the school districts and community attributes and benefits.
Know the local inspectors and be on hand for inspections.
Know about the local ordinances, clearance issues and permit concerns.
If you’re considering a real estate opportunity to buy, sell or invest, the first step is to get in touch with your Realtor who will be able to help you evaluate your situation…and the ‘local’ market.

Best regards,