Real estate agents, as well as sellers, need to look at more than the local home sales and price trends, although it appears that not very many do.
You can know the neighborhood as well as or better than everyone else, but it's how you use that knowledge toward generating home sales that makes the difference.
Just last week, I saw a business news story from Texas about a grocery chain expanding in the Houston area by adding 3 full-size food stores in the region. Granted, I don't see every newsletter, flyer, or web page that comes from local agents. But I have yet to see or hear of any of the area's real estate agents mention this in any way.
What does another grocery store mean to a specific area in terms of housing? Actually, plenty. Stop to think about it. Having a new grocery store increases local competition, provides those living nearby with a significant added convenience, and creates more local jobs. For starters.
If you are looking to sell a home within a square mile of any of those new locations, wouldn't this be helpful information? You bet!
You would soon (based on the scheduled completion of the store) have the ability to save your buyer or tenant travel time in the car on every shopping trip (which saves time and gas money).
This is another example of why real estate agents (or the advertising/marketing specialist they retain, if I may toss in a hint) should be on top of local business stories and activity. This sort of story should be a reason (or "excuse" if you must) to contact local home owners whether they are your clients or not. You can remind them that if and when they are thinking of selling, they now have an additional hot point with the brand new major grocery store coming in.
And, you can alert them that if anyone in the household is looking for local employment that you know of an opportunity for them. Between those two possibilities, a sharp agent should be able to generate some local phone calls.
Back to the main point. Factors such as a new business (employment, growth, etc.) should really be more of an influence than the number of homes that sold in the same neighborhood 6 months or one year ago.
For example, since most large cities have increased local transportation costs this year, the need is greater than ever to point out homes which are (really) close to transportation. Point out the savings if a buyer can avoid a car ride or extra bus fare every day by moving to close proximity.
To that point, the National Housing Conference has just released its study about the impact of transportation and other costs on the housing market. Although it's not positive, it does offer some good insight in terms of what is (or should be) important when selling or buying a home:
Crunch some numbers for a potential buyer.
Suppose your home is listed at $5,000 more than other homes in your area, but yours is the closest to the commuter train station (or commute needs of the buyer). Show that potential buyer how they could save at least $5 per week ($20+ per month). ("No using up gas plus having to pay $1 to park at the train station when you live here!") Next, point out that they would still have at your home, because the $5,000 additional on the purchase price comes out to only about $14 per month more on a 30-year loan. Your "additional savings" outweigh that.
OK, you might be able to poke holes at that idea, but it's the concept that's important. It seems as though agents and sellers don't think that way. And they would otherwise reduce their price by $5,000 to not lose out to a home that is further away and doesn't offer the same benefits.
New grocery store or not, that's food for thought, too.
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