Seeing good trends in the data…

I track sales in 9 local real estate markets that surround (or are near)  Milford – Milford (Village and Township), Commerce Township (to include Walled Lake and Wolverine Lake), Highland Township, White Lake Township, West Bloomfield Township and Lyon Township and South Lyon in Oakland County;  plus Green Oak, Brighton (Township and City), and Hartland Township (and Village) in Livingston County. I’ve been tracking these same nine markets for a about three years and five of the nine for several years longer.

Basically I show the sales data every week and report the following statistics – Whether the sale was a distressed sale (a foreclosure or short sale), the listed price, the sold price, the percentage of sold verses listed prices, the SEV for the home as recorded in the Public Record Database at the time of the sale, the SEV multiplier that the sale price represents (SEV is supposed to be ½ of the market value, but these days homes are selling for 2.2 to 2.5 times the SEV, which indicates that the assessors overshot in the down direction), The number of days that the home was on the market (DOM), the Square Footage of the home as reported in the MLS and the listed value per Sq. Ft. and the Sold value per Sq. Ft. For each market I show the Averages for those values and the Median value for the data.
As I looked at the data yesterday when I posted it for last week, several things jumped out at me. One is that this is one of the few times in the last few years that distressed sales as a percentage of all sales has been below 50% for all nine markets. There are still some hovering at mid- to high-40% levels, but there is also one that has remained at 0% all month, so far (Milford). The days on market (DOM) numbers are down on average across the board, indicating that properties are selling faster. Perhaps the most important is that four of the nine markets have broken back through the $100/Sq Ft Average barrier. To me that’s a significant figure, sort of like the Dow has “barriers” at 12,000 or 14,000.
In housing in this area, when the bottom dropped out of the markets we dropped from sale values in the $124-144/Sq Ft ranges during the peak in the markets that I track down to markets that were averaging $70 – $80/ Sq Ft. Admittedly much of that severe drop was due to the high percentage of foreclosed houses in the sales mix during that period; however, it did impact the market values of all houses on the market. So we are not back to peak levels and may not get back to that level for a decade or more (if ever); however, we are getting closer to market values that will allow many who have been sitting on the sidelines to consider listing their homes.
Not everyone bought or refinanced and took out equity during the bubble years; however, even those who were financially conservative and may have had a big down payment when they bought found themselves under water when homes values fell as far as they did in the recent recession. I see articles that the housing market is back to the value levels of this year or that and I’d say that we regressed back into the mid 1980’s somewhere, so far as lost value went. A few of our local markets lost 30-40% of their 2006 values and a very few actually lost more than 50%.
Now things are trending back up. If we get back on the historic home appreciation curve of 3-4% per year it will take us a decade to get back. I suspect that the lack of inventory in the market will drive a faster recovery, at least until the market reaches a new supply and demand equilibrium.  The data that I look at each week certainly seems to indicate that. If you want to see for yourself, go to and click on the choice “ What have homes in this area sold for?” There is data there for all nine markets going back three years and for some of the markets going back further. The data that I collected has changed a bit in format over the years, but you should still be able to compare some key metrics.
And if you’re ready to see what your home is worth on the market today give me a call. I don’t charge to do a Market Analysis for you and you might just be surprised that you can take your plans off hold and move on with life by selling now and moving to take that new job or moving to that retirement home or that place closer to the kids. Maybe it’s time to look at that move-up house that you’ve been dreaming about but felt that you couldn’t afford. You just won’t know until you see where you are on your current place.

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