I don’t know where you live in Cincinnati. But I am going to guess that within a mile or so of your home you know of spots where homes are more expensive than yours and spots where they are less costly. Maybe even WAY more expensive or WAY less costly. I could draw a not-very-big circle around my own neighborhood and hit homes that would sell for $250,000 and homes that go for $2 million. And neither of those figures reflects the value of my house. The truly useful real estate info about your home is very localized. Sometimes very, very localized. Sometimes it honestly doesn’t even matter much what is going on just around the corner.
This is all by way of saying, don’t slip on the statistics! Don’t trip yourself up by internalizing data that doesn’t apply to you! If we’ve already acknowledged that what’s going on 1 mile away may not really matter to you, please, PLEASE don’t mix California into your data set! That may seem obvious, but when you are reading national publications reporting on nationwide “trends” in the real estate market, you are really tossing California (and all points in between) into your statistical soup pot.
No doubt you’ve seen some national headlines talking about the real estate market “slowing down,” home prices decreasing, houses sitting on the market longer. Lordy! That is NOT what I am seeing here! Here’s my report from the front this Spring in Cincinnati: if the market were any brisker/faster it would exceed the speed of light; I’m not seeing houses going down in value; for many homes it is more accurate to talk about how many HOURS it was on the market as opposed to how many days.
What else am I seeing? Homes having 30 or 50 or 60 showings their first day on the market, homes receiving multiple offers (often: MEGA multiple offers), sellers getting offers within an hour of going on the market, homes going under contract on their 2nd day on the market (because the sellers decided to “wait” that long to accept one to let everyone who scheduled a showing have time to visit), homes selling WELL over asking price…with other contract terms that are also extremely favorable. Extremely. Favorable.
So clearly that giant cauldron of national statistics may not tell you anything you need to know about what’s going on in your neighborhood. But remember even when you ponder local data, or even hyper-local, you still have to ask the right questions to get useful answers.
Super important caveat of the day: Statistics can be true AND useless. True and useless??? What on earth do I mean? Here’s an example….
Let’s say I pull the data on a particular neighborhood in Cincinnati, and it shows that “average days on market” is 51. Fifty-one?? That sounds awfully long! If one were thinking this 51-day average was instructive (and also knew houses HAD recently been going at the speed of light), one could come to the conclusion that things had realllly slowed down here and sellers better be prepared to be more accommodating and expect a slower journey to the closing table!
But that average of 51 days on market is actually a fairly useless figure! In this example the average came from 10 houses: one sold in 500 days, one sold in 10 days, 5 sold in 1 day, and 3 sold their first day on market (which is recorded as “zero” days since it didn’t spend a full 24 hours out there). The important takeaway from this info is 8 OF THE 10 HOUSES SOLD IN ZERO OR ONE DAY!! That’s a really wild and crazy, brisk market! 8-of-10-in-one-day-or-less sounds very different than an average of 51 days! The average is true, but useless! What on earth was the story with that one that took 500 days to sell?? It was to-be-built new construction; it was advertised for several months before a buyer selected it, and then it took about a year to be built. (Pausing for you to say, “Ohhhhhh!”) 500 days isn’t normal. And in this data set the average of 51 days is true but USELESS. What’s useful? 8 out of 10 in one day or less! It suggests that your home is apt to sell VERY quickly if priced appropriately for location and condition.
But what if houses HAD been selling really quickly at strong dollars in your neighborhood…and suddenly there were 2 houses on the market there that sat and sat, and kept having to reduce price?? The statistics would show increasing days on market (not good) and decreasing value (also not good)! Oh no! Does that mean the sky has fallen and suddenly no buyers want to live in your community?? Well, theoretically it could. But I very, very, very sincerely doubt it. Right now it is most likely is that those homes had particular challenges that were keeping them from selling. Perhaps they were just plain ol’ over-priced, or perhaps the basement of one filled with a foot of water every time it rained, or perhaps a colony of raccoons had taken up residence in a long-vacant house and greeted all visitors at the front door. There could be innumerable reasons why those were lingering and reducing price, but those “true” statistics might be absolutely USELESS in predicting how your lovely, no-racoons-at-the-front-door home would do on the market! My guess for the owner of a lovely/appropriately priced home is that YOU’LL DO GREAT! So heads up to buyers: if you were looking at the data on those lingering houses (thinking that slower/cheaper was a relevant trend instead of irrelevant/useless info), you’d set yourselves up to move too slow and bid too low to get the awesome house. Oops. Oops. Major oops.
I could go on for weeks with examples of how one could slip up by misreading “true” real estate statistics, from across the country or across the street. But I’ll stop. (Pausing so you can say, “Whew! Yay! No more data!”)
Data is dreamy, stats are super…but only if it is the right set of info, and is interpreted correctly. It’s easy to get confused. Particularly when your news feed keeps throwing contradictory headlines at you 12 times a day! So don’t trip yourself up! Don’t slip on the stats! Call your real estate agent, have a chat. The good agents spend all day every day keeping a finger on the pulse of exactly what is going on here now. They can help you separate the useful from the useless, and help you make truly well-informed decisions as you put together your plans to buy or sell. You deserve expert support and insights. Text your agent now.
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors
Tags: cincinnati real estate, home buyers, home search, home sellers, house hunt, selling your home, spring real estate market
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