Be Careful – Those Real Estate Numbers May Not Be What You Think

The Boise Regional Realtors® just released its October 2018 market report for real estate in southern Idaho. The themes continue to be declining inventory and a 20% increase in home prices compared to last year. They also give you some more granular information on new vs. existing home sales (click here) and general city overviews (click here).

Looking at these types of numbers gives the public a general overview of the health of the market. Yet, it leaves a lot to be desired. It is not useful information for the individual trying to make good decisions about their own real estate.

What’s missing?

Context.

While general real estate numbers can make great headlines, the information is useless for individuals. Only with specific information that relates to your situation can you make the best choices.

Just like Zillow can give you a wild Zestimate (here’s an article that shows just how bad they can be), the applicability to your situation is going to vary. Here are some examples.

Into The Weeds of Ada County Real Estate

From a high level, the BRR is providing the general public solid information. And they do a great job of providing it every month. If you are not from the area but are considering a move here, these reports can aid you in where to consider living. And if you are a Realtor® like myself, they give you something to talk about (or write about).

But how helpful is this information to a serious buyer or seller?

Not very.

And in some cases, these numbers may be misleading.

Here is an example.

Context Matters. I See More Than Small Growth

From the report: the median sales price from last month to this month was only up 0.8%. This is hardly encouraging if you need to sell your home.

But let’s put this into context. Because if you are looking for trends, you first must understand what normal is. Idaho is a seasonal place, after all.

Here is the normal price change from September to October:

2015 – Prices dropped 1.5%

2016 – Prices were flat at 0.0%

2017 – Prices dropped 1.8%

2018 – Prices went up 0.8%

On the surface, a 0.8% increase may seem like nothing. But it is actually unusual. What normally happens this time of year is nothing or a price drop. It appears that prices are taking an unusual turn-up. Selling now may be a good option.

Your Situation Matters, Not Their’s

Everyone’s situation is different. And that is why you need to get the real deal on your own situation and the real estate market you are in.

If you are looking to buy, you need to understand the difference between new and existing home prices.

If you are trying to sell, you need to know what is going on where you live and filter out all the stuff. Get rid of the other cities. You even need to get rid of the other neighborhoods. Your home is not like their homes. Your situation is not like their situations.

For example, if you live in North Boise and want to sell your home, you must look beyond the $321,000 median sales price. Because that number includes all Ada County along with new construction. Dialing it into north Boise, the median October sales price was $493,000. And they sold in 17 days! That’s a huge difference.

Compare that to West Meridian, where new builds went for a median price of $358,065 and sat on the market for 43 days.

What It All Means

At the end of the day, high-level numbers can give you a general overview of what is going on. But without context, they really don’t tell the whole story. Additionally, the numbers don’t matter when it comes to your own situation.

If you want to get down to the gritty details, find an expert you trust and work with them. Give them the specifics of your situation so you can gather relevant information. Then, and only then, you can make smart and informed decisions that will benefit you the most.

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