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The Metro Study people do an excellent job with interpreting and reporting on home sales and many things real estate related, but their latest findings for the Northern Virginia housing market is another prime example of how much is too much.
This report shows that, for part or all of 2014, new home construction was down but used home sales were up; while the number of overall home sales were down, yet the median price was up.
We can take statistics like these and make a case for just about anything, and that is the problem. For now, let's take real estate investors out of the equation and focus on consumers purchasing a home for their own use.
Quick. How many people, including yourself, do you know who have read market statistics and THEN decided to purchase a home?
If you answered more than zero, I'd be extremely surprised. Seems to me that personal preference plays an even bigger role.
However, many of the so-called experts choose the statistics which best fit their approach and run with them, which overall is not helping when it comes to real estate. Maybe it does in pro sports, for example, when the team negotiates by illustrating only those statistics which shows a player in a less productive light while the agent has every statistic to show that player in every superior and productive category.
You can't take statistics like these and make it appear that "people are buying pre-owned homes instead of new ones" based on sales over the past two years. Yet, I am not arguing against that while pointing out that new construction is down.
It so happens that I had the experience of watching my current home being built, and I know a couple, married for 35 years, which has moved into new construction every time. I could also name other friends and family members who would "never go with new construction because there are always problems".
Official statistics are NOT necessarily a true reflection of the pulse of a local real estate market, even though they are too often "reported" as if they are. But neither is the barrage of comparative statistics.
Let's use the Northern VA report as an example. Metro Study reports that Northern Virginia MLS sales numbered 38,691 units for 2014. That looks quite impressive. Then you read that this sales number is down 6 percent from the previous year. The 6% decrease makes it appear to some that the desire to move to or within this same area is reduced. So is this a good or a bad report?
Still another example of why sellers need to take charge of how their agents are presenting their properties, even with all due respect to a lot of realty agents out there.
The Chicago area has literally had more than 21 inches of snow within the past week, at the time of this writing. Many of the side streets and secondary streets within the city and its suburb are still being cleared for traffic even though there has been no "new" snowfall in 48 hours. Of course, technology hasn't stopped through all of this. The ability to upload and update advertisements and data about new and currently listed properties is the same as it was just a week ago.
As I so often do following a major storm or significant event impacting a geographic area, I check on homes for sale in the impacted area days later to see how many agents representing sellers have updated their advertising and promotion to focus on the true current status.
Even in a competitive market like Chicago, a search of 50 properties within the same general price range did not show ANY references to the recent storm.
This is such a major opportunity to promote a listing on a street where, for example, it was plowed and safe for travel right away and/or something like "streets clear to train station" or "easy snow plow access". Something to tell a potential buyer that it is easier to deal with the big storm for this home than other properties in the area might be.
Here is one specific example, which, prior to clicking to the full property details, shows as "JUST LISTED", at 5654 W. Grace Street in Chicago.
The primary photo of the home shows (again, the same week as 21 inches of snow have fallen) an exterior shot showing the lawn and a nice floral arrangement. JUST LISTED??
Sorry, but right there the credibility is shot. If this home really is "just listed", why was the primary photo clearly taken MONTHS earlier?
Not only is there zero mention of winter or the storm, but the description includes "Lovely deck and backyard for entertaining!" within the copy. Considering that the outdoor temperature had not been above 32 degrees within the past five days (at the time of this writing), I'm not sure this is the best sentence to tempt an immediate response.
Granted, the seller of this home is not responsible for having this advertisement (on a nationally available real estate web site) appear this way.
If that were my property, I would be livid at the agent. If a potential buyer can access this advertisement while the snow is piled up, the agent placing this advertisement can be making sure it is up to the minute, or pull it if the advertising source can't deliver.
Upon looking at the numerous interior photos taken from good angles, this is an impressive property. However, potential buyers seeing the clearly outdated photo and about the "lovely deck and backyard" (and back yard is actually two words, by the way) are more likely to ridicule this advertisement and click on to the next property matching their search criteria.
A little common sense could help the sale of properties even more than the prices and the interest rates.