Thursday, July 26, 2007

HEY MEDIA... Are you listening? ALL Real Estate is LOCAL!!!

How many times do we have to hear that the housing market is doing one thing... and that must mean that the whole market is doing the same thing?

When the price of a barrel of oil goes up, it is a singular commodity moving. While there are different grades of oil (sweet light crude, heavy crude, rough crude, etc.) they are interconnected. If one moves, they all move because their value is interconnected.

When prices move up or down in GA, there is little correlation to prices in Maine. They aren't interconnected. There may be a few instances when they can be driven by the same forces (the Sub-Prime Meltdown.. SPM, is an example). If there is MASS unemployment nationwide, that would affect multiple markets, but even unemployment is largely regional. Even the SPM has an uneven effect. It will affect markets that have had more "heat" more than stable markets. In fact, we are seeing that it is mostly those markets that are leading the foreclosures... although Atlanta didn't have the big price run-ups, it snuck in there too.

The point is that if there is a shortage of $250k homes in Atlanta, an over supply in Charlotte can't be used to offset it. If there are too many $1m homes in Lansing, MI they can't be shipped to Ann Arbor to ease the problem. Even when the job market causes some local imbalance in the supply and demand for homes, that doesn't mean Birmingham can ship their unemployed to Marietta (GA or CA).

It would simply be responsible when mentioning that real estate is moving up or down to say that some sectors are doing the opposite. Many of the same business programs that go in depth with stock reports, and go out of the way to mention that "there is a flight from tech to blue chips" or that "transports are taking a beating while oil is going through the roof" fail to mention that some areas and some price ranges are healthier or unhealthier than others.

Remember, real estate being off 3% on a national average is VERY DIFFERENT than gasoline being off 3% on a national average. The gasoline might vary a little from market to market, but up is up, and down is down. In real estate, that same 3% average might encompass one market being up 10% and another being down 18%.

Just remember that when dealing with real estate, as the FTC required many years ago, "Your Mileage May Vary." YMMV.

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