12 things you need to do to keep on eye on local housing trends
Real estate agents have special access and know where to get information on local housing trends—but what about people outside the industry? The average person might watch TV shows to learn about property upgrades and sales, but they might not know where to turn for additional information about the ins and outs of real estate. Here are 12 strategies to help you stay current on real estate trends and be the expert in your neighbourhood.
1. Follow Sales In Your Neighbourhood
Real estate markets are localized, so the best bet is watching your specific neighbourhood. Keep an eye on how long homes are taking to sell, what price they are actually selling for (rather than what price they are listed at) and what kind of homes are selling the fastest at the highest prices. Find your community neighbourhood using the Toronto Real Estate Boards Map.
2. Sign Up For A Real Estate Pro's Email List
Many real estate professionals send out monthly email blasts with market information that includes a month over month or year over year comparison showing general market trends for days on the market, average sales price, etc. If you want to get more relevant stats, realtors can set up a custom search for you so you're automatically notified of new listings in your specific community. Set up your personal account here.
3. Pay Attention To The Micro Markets, Not Just Overall Trends
Local housing trends are just that: local. They are specific to a micro-market and sometimes not aligned with general real estate trends that are reported in the news or through online sources. Use free real estate tools to find the actual properties trading in the specific local area. Pay attention to neighbourhood news on jobs, schools, business developments, zoning, and other related trends.
4. Create An Account On A Real Estate Platform.
Ask a local professional to set you up with a monthly market update. Most real estate boards offer an automated market update like the Toronto Real Estate Board. If that doesn't work, you can always create an account on a realtor's website to access most of the information you want to find. You'll have access to the immediate and most important information such as Sold Prices, New Listings, Market Snapshots or Market Reports delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on your preference.
5. Start Window Shopping On Real Estate Apps
Let's face it, these days there are so many free real estate apps out there for you to use. I suggest downloading an app you find interesting and just start browsing around. It can be a great way to learn about neighbourhoods, see photos for inspiration and even get an initial pulse on pricing trends.
One of my favourite apps is Houzz where you can get inspired and discover home ideas.
6. Seek Out Your Local Real Estate ‘Authority'
Someone who not only has sold at least 25 homes in the same city but a person who knows about all of the nuances of the local market—issues like traffic commute times, new developments, special taxing or construction levies, school boundaries and changes with city planning and city development.
Yes, even I seek out the real estate agent who is also an "authority" to stay on top of trends. By having regular networking and 'master-mind' conversations with my peer group I am able to help clients succeed in their real estate goals.
One of the most under-estimated considerations home sellers and home buyers have is the peer-to-peer relationship your realtor has developed. A great realtor will take the time to develop relationships with other realtors and is often one of the key reasons, for example, when presented with a bidding war, that peer-to-peer relationship can make the difference between your offer being accepted over a competing offer accepted. Realtors will learn to trust other realtors they have a trusted and confident relationship with!
The message here is simple. Seek out a local authority (someone who knows the local/neighbourhood market) and a realtor that has a strong peer-to-peer relationship network.
7. Comb Through Realtor.ca
Realtor.ca allows you to see trends in specific housing types (single-family, condos, townhomes, etc.) or with a specific number of bedrooms or three different price tiers—high, medium and bottom. However, for specific questions that really apply to your specific situation, there is no substitute for working with a qualified real estate professional who can make sense of the vast amount of data.
A Realtor's role is much more than selling homes. A good and sensible Realtor's role is to provide you with guidance and information to help you make an informed decision no matter what stage of the process you currently are in. If you sense they are transactional, and not relationship-based, then trust your intuition and search for a realtor that you can trust and form a lasting relationship built on trust and integrity. The average home seller or homebuyer today will likely interview 3 realtors before choosing one. The number one source to find a realtor, according to NAR is by referral.
8. Sign Up For Conferences And Seminars.
Of course, TV shows may seem to be a good way to brush up on local housing trends, but those shows are in fact "made for TV." The best way to educate yourself is to attend local conferences and seminars. Attending such conferences provides access to industry leaders with their finger on the pulse of the market and emerging trends.
9. Check Real Estate Association Websites
One of the best ways for the average person to keep an eye on local housing trends aside from connecting with a real estate agent is to check your local real estate board websites Many of them publish monthly housing statistics, which can keep you abreast of the market and trends. CREA and TREB are great resources to get you started.
10. Pay Attention To Job Growth And Building Developments
Local housing trends can be identified by the areas of job growth or job decline, new residential building developments and company expansions within a city. Job growth and company expansions are stable predictors for where housing demand will rise in the future.
12. Check Local Building Permits
Yes, building permits. This indicator is often overlooked when evaluating local trends. What type of building activity is going on within an area? Are homeowners making application permits to make updates, or is there a demolition permit with plans for construction? Staying on top of this information will help you understand what type of growth a region is going to see based on construction activity.
The City of Toronto offers access to building permits and the status of each for you to keep current on your local neighbourhood.