Reading and Listening to the Real Estate News

January 31, 2019


OK, I won’t go so far as to call the real estate reports in the national media as “fake” news.  But most of what you read and hear about your real estate market in the media is based on data that applies to the nation as a whole, and all real estate news that is relevant is very, very local.

Each metropolitan area and each neighborhood within that area has it’s own highly nuanced market.  While the national market might be in the tank, your neighborhood could be doing quite well.  And if you hear that prices for existing homes are increasing in value, that doesn’t mean your house will sell for more than it might have last month or last year.

It’s all about supply and demand in specific neighborhoods or condo developments.  Here are just a few factors than influence home prices:

  • Jobs: if a major employer moves into or out of your area, it is likely to impact home prices.
  • Schools: boundaries: can change, putting homes into different districts. If the results moves your home into a better district, your value could go up. If you are moved out of a great school district, the opposite could happen.
  • Neighborhood and condo associations: if you have an HOA or condo association that has issues with conflict resolution, it could lower your property values.  If the group is involved in any sort of litigation, that’s a really bad thing for prices.
  • Rental Policies: when your association approves new restrictions on rental practices, it will almost certainly decrease property values.  There are many condos putting heavy restrictions on the owner’s ability to rent their units – it’s a reaction to Air B&B rentals. But restricting all rentals, which many DC area condos are starting to do, makes the complex unattractive to the large foreign service community, as well as others who work in occupations that require assignments in other areas.
  • Changes in taste: if the Washington Post does an article about a formerly funky neighborhood about to become the newest chic and trendy place to live, the prices are likely to go up, but the new buyers may be living with Port-a-potties lining the streets for the next few years.
  • Zoning changes: these can cut both ways, and changes to basic zoning regulations can have a huge impact on the character of a neighborhood.
  • Road widening: if your quiet street becomes the new major traffic artery, it’s not likely to increase value, as the appeal of your home will be reduced for most households with children or pets.
  • Major construction nearby: This usually brings noise and disruption, at least during the process of a new building going up.
  • Federal government shutdown: here is the DC area, we tend to feel the impact of temporary shutdowns more than the rest of the country, and even though they tend to be very temporary with the workers eventually getting paid, they don’t help us sell houses and condos in some price ranges while government is closed.

So when you hear a report on the evening news that prices are up or down for new or existing homes, keep in mind that the numbers are gathered from nationwide averages.  To get an idea of what is going on with your particular property, you have to get into the nuances of the local conditions and issues that are likely to help determine your home’s value.

And I can help you do that!