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6-24-top-storyRISMEDIA, June 24, 2009-Historically, the value of real estate goes through cycles. Many factors affect the value of homes including the laws of “supply and demand.” From the Appraisal Institute, here’s a quick reference guide to some of the factors involved and advice on how to spot a turning point in the market:

1. A spike in local sales activity. A spike refers to a significant rise in the number of home sales (or values) in a local market area, which generally is measured month to month. A spike does not necessarily mean continued growth, i.e. it could be a one month phenomenon.

2. Higher asking and selling prices vs. appraisal value opinions for residential properties. Appraisers study the markets; they do not make the markets. When the data shows higher sale prices in comparable properties market value opinions will increase proportionally. Appraisers seek evidence of value but do not create the value. In time periods with low activity, evidence of any kind is difficult to find.

3. More activity at open houses. Open houses with five to eight attendees is considered average, so a dozen or more people attending an open house means buyer interest is picking up. Also, the mood of the attendees is important. Are they optimist and upbeat? Buyers interest alone does not always translate to effective purchasing power. If the number of buyers in the market increases but they do not have requisite down payments, the sales may still not occur.

4. Shorter marketing times. In some markets, houses have been up for sale for more than a year. In most balanced residential markets, properties that are priced competitively will typically sell in less than six months. If the Days On Market (DOM) is shortening, many practitioners will read an improvement in the market.

5. Reduced number of foreclosures and short sales. A reduction in these transactions commonly signals a more balanced market. If lenders are reluctant to foreclose because of an oversupply of inventory, they may choose to wait to repossess the properties, which could allow a spike in the number of foreclosures later despite a better market condition.

6. Stabilized employment. Stable or increasing employment rates provide the necessary confidence for potential buyers to invest in a home. Since most buyers rely on borrowed funds to make real estate purchases and borrowing money usually requires a source of repayment and that usually means jobs, an increase in this basic need, will enable more real estate sales.

7. Fewer buyer incentives and seller concessions. Seller-paid incentives or concessions are a sign of seller motivation. If there are fewer builders offering “free” upgrades and fewer sellers sweetening the deal with big screen TVs, it may be a sign of lessening supply and therefore a better market.

8. New construction starts. Most builders are quite attune to their markets and will not build new homes without a corresponding contract for sale or a perceived increase in demand. An increase in the number of building permits usually indicates higher demand and higher prices. If residential properties are selling for 25% less than they cost to build, only a few new homes will be built. It would be prudent to buy an existing home rather than build a new one for a much higher price.

9. “Move-up” buyers entering the market. More buyers willing to move to a larger or superior quality home indicates a healthy market. The lack of buyers at the lower end of the price range will have a chain reaction throughout the market. If a buyer for a high priced home has a lower priced home to sell first, the sale of the higher priced home may have to occur before the higher priced one can sell.

10. Apartments advertising renter specials – fewer renters in the market may indicate more people are moving into owner occupied homes or it could indicate a reduction in population. Lower population will cause an oversupply of housing which will oftentimes permeate throughout several markets.

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