Learn About An Area’s Local Housing Market With These 12 Helpful Tips

Real Estate

Whether you’re in the business of buying or selling a home, a crucial part of the process is to know as much as you can about the area’s local housing market. If you’re looking for a home, you’ll want to gather information to ensure you’re making the right decision about where you want to live. If you’re selling a home as a homeowner or real estate agent, you’ll need to be able to answer many different questions from potential buyers.

There are plenty of resources you can use to gather information if you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re looking to buy or sell in. Below, 12 members of Forbes Real Estate Council weigh in and share their most helpful tips for learning about the local housing market of an area. 

1. Experience Geography And Demographics Up Close

Nothing beats feet on the ground. We begin each project mindful of the developer’s target market but then go into the area to experience both the geography and demographics. We want to ascertain the latest buzz. Is it price? Unique design? Where are friends and family? How is the location and access to jobs, recreation, shopping or entertainment? We take whatever’s hot and design to beat that bar. – Mary Cook, Mary Cook

2. Use Community-Specific Governmental Websites 

If told to choose just one resource to learn about a local housing market or area, I suggest governmental sites that are specific to the community that you desire. These include the city, police department, tax assessor, animal welfare, etc. It is endless. You can find budgetary information, information on local politicians, zoning, plans and more. – Mike Shapiro, Mike S Shapiro


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3. Gather Rent Estimates For Properties Of Interest

Get rent estimates for properties you’re interested in. Rent prices will help you get a better understanding of supply and demand in your desired market. Many sites such as Rentometer or Zillow provide free rent estimates. – Chuck Hattemer, Poplar Homes (formerly Onerent)

4. Speak To Real Estate Attorneys For Expert Insight

Speak to real estate attorneys. They can share incredible insights on the sales trends they are observing including property tax trends, disputes arising between transacting entities and the reason for the same, timelines for title clearance, etc. A real estate attorney can guide you on challenges they have seen other clients experience and how to navigate the same to extract more value. – Saurabh Shah, InstaLend

5. Gather Information From Various Online Resources

Online resources like property listings, auction sites, virtual tours and blog posts are helpful tools for learning about local markets. In a recent ServiceLink report, 42% of buyers reported reading articles and other posts online to inform their home-buying decisions—and that number grew to 56% for Gen Z and millennials. Mortgage and real estate professionals are also great sources of market trends. – Miriam Moore, ServiceLink

6. Use Crime Stats To Understand Area Changes 

Many areas are said to be changing, generally in a positive direction. One great way to look at those changes is to look at the crime reported in an area. The FBI has a great website that allows you to look at the types and trends of crime in an area. You can look by state and then drill down to the local agency, such as a local police department. – Robert Jafek, Boomerang Capital Partners

7. Use Social Media

Follow the town or community on social media. Although there are many resources including official bulletin boards and publications, towns are likely to also connect and announce new deed-restricted developments for the locals using social media groups. Additionally, private entities may post announcements about local housing openings on the same groups and forums. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge CO

8. Begin Canvasing With The Chamber Of Commerce 

Real estate is a contact sport. When canvasing a new area, one place I always start is the local chamber of commerce. We also go into the marketplace and video the amenities, parks, local attractions, shopping, etc. Our out-of-state buyers love receiving these videos with us narrating them. – Lisa Copeland, The Agentcy by Tarek El Moussa by Exp Realty, LLC

9. Check Local Listing Services For Property Prices

Your local listings services are an essential resource. In New York, for example, we show all the prices of every property on a map so you can easily read the map and know which neighborhoods are the most or least expensive. Keeping yourself updated through time in terms of pricing will help you understand if you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. – Rodolfo Delgado, Replay Listings

10. Follow Local News

Following local news and tracking commercial developments in a particular area can provide a good indication of its housing market trajectory. The type of upcoming developments (office/commercial versus industrial, for example) reflect which demographics are expected to grow in the neighborhood. – Ron Costa, The Eighty Two Group

11. Search The Local Tax Assessor Database 

Tax assessor data can be an untapped treasure trove of data. This information can be hyper-localized by community, neighborhood or even street. Finding local tax information online has improved, making it easier than ever to search. It often provides a sales history of homes, improvements, tax changes over the years, home assessment values and more. For trend data, this can be an exceptional resource. – Kevin Hawkins, WAV Group, Inc.

12. Get Tips From TheLocal Internet Chat Group 

Nearly every city has a local internet chat group, whether it be through Nextdoor or community administration. These sites are where locals exchange goods and services and share tips. These can be great resources of unfiltered information on the local housing market. For example, my town has a site for Berkeley parents, which is an amazing resource for all things local. – Megan Micco, Compass

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