News outlets constantly report on jobs, housing prices, housing inventory and a myriad of other factors that affect the residential real estate market. With every data point it seems like the stock market moves up and down in a ratcheted fashion as if the latest data point has solidified the recovery or the doom of the market. Smart investors would be wise to look at trends and to always remember, real estate at its core is an investment in a location.
Investment Fundamentals – Jobs and the Economy
Jobs and retail sales can be a good barometer of the national economy. If people are employed and spending money, it is generally a good bet that the economy is doing well. This is a positive sign for real estate, but here is where the local part comes in. Cities like Detroit and Cleveland know all too well that they are not represented by national statistics.
This is not to say that national statistics do not affect the way people think, act and feel locally, but investors are best served by knowing how their markets trend with the broad nation. Recoveries in cities like Los Angeles and New York will be leading indicators, while second tier cities like Chicago might be several quarters behind.
Furthermore, the speed of recoveries also depend on the fundamental (or lack thereof) reason for the initial inflation. Consider a city like Las Vegas. This city began to see economic gains because of increased tourism; however, as the local economy begin to pick up steam, construction quickly became the growth engine. With the construction enormous casinos and the real estate development boom, Las Vegas became a city of physical labors. Even as tourism began to dip, the city continued to prosper because of this false economy.
Finally, disaster struck when many casino projects were cancelled and the local residential real estate market crashed. With no more construction jobs, the emigration began in earnest, leaving the economy short of people and jobs. Even as tourism returns, the residential market in Las Vegas should expect a much slower recovery than the greater economy because of its unprecedented rise.
Investment In Local Real Estate Fundamentals
Investors can profit from understanding the disconnect between market realities and market perceptions. Becoming familiar with the real estate drivers of a local market can help an investor understand when it’s time to buy and when it’s time to sell. Even today, markets like Houston show strong fundamentals and did not suffer from the same drop as other major markets. Growth in this market may be unduly muted because of general economic trends. Local investors would do well to invest today and wait for the market to validate their conviction.
Don’t be swayed by national real estate statistics. Real estate is 100% local. Use this knowledge to profit from local mis-pricing when the greater economy becomes too hot or too cold.