April 9, 2009

Parsing Housing Makets or How to Look Past the Numbers

If you look at these two charts they tell an interesting story. In real estate there are few benchmarks and so its hard to see what's really going on.

The NAR chart is telling us that housing has now returned to its 1976 median price. Meaning that if you bought a home in 1976 you would now be under water. Your mortgage may be paid off, but you have lost all your equity. Dismal!

Terrible, yes, but maybe not quite as bad as all that. Zillow had a great blog that dug a little deeper. The national averages include the most devastated markets. Its clear the worst markets are dragging down the numbers.... The problem with averages.

This zillow chart looks specifically at San Francisco and points out that there are really many markets. Here the chart separates foreclosed home sales from home sales of non foreclosed homes.

The non foreclosed sales (the black line) have held up better than foreclosed homes . The black line looks to have reverted to 2004 prices, while the red line 2001 prices. And the black line is turning up, pointing towards market strength. Its important to understand that averages mask the local market and that low ball sales may have little to do with your property. So, dont let pressure talk you into the lower price for an easier sale. Look a little closer at the data- it may not be representative of your property....

Howard Bell


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