In our aggressive market, homeowners and buyers want to know where the market is headed. Are valuations heading up, up, up, making it the perfect time to buy? Or are they beginning a precipitous decline from their peak—making it high time to sell? To read the tea leaves, they might focus on the latest jobs reports, check out what’s going on in other markets, or scrutinize the writings of economists.
But when it comes to nailing the best deal in real estate, you can get a jump on the competition! Inside-track insights can be found in the most unusual places—such as on a grocery run, or at the gas pump. Realtor.com has rounded up eight surprising indicators of change in home prices. Do they play a role in pushing the numbers skyward or down into the dirt? Or are they false prophets?
1. Gas prices
Sure, it feels fantastic to fill up your car with gas for just $35 when it used to cost almost $50. But if you’re looking to buy a home, the financial benefit of cheap gas might be overrated—as gas prices fall, home prices inevitably go up. And homes sell faster, too, which takes a toll on available inventory.
For every $1 decrease in gas prices, home prices increase by roughly $4,000 and the average time to sell a property decreases by 25 days, according to a study by Longwood University and Florida Atlantic University.
Lower gas prices lead to increased consumer confidence and more disposable income for potential buyers, Longwood professor Bennie Waller explains. In addition, the listing broker—who has to travel between properties—is more likely to market more aggressively and have more showings when gas is cheap.
2. Trader Joe’s vs. Whole Foods
When it comes to healthy eats, cost-conscious gourmet market Trader Joe’s and pricey, environmentally conscious Whole Foods each have their own massive cult following. But it turns out, if you’re seeking a neighborhood where homes are worth more—and gaining in value—you’d better know which store to look for.
Homes near the two foodie superstores significantly trump the national average home value, but homes near a Trader Joe’s are worth 5% more than homes near a Whole Foods, according to RealtyTrac.
Homes near a Trader Joe’s also appreciate faster, with an average appreciation rate of 40% from the time of purchase. Meanwhile, homes near a Whole Foods appreciated 34%, the same as the national average. So even if you do tend to shop at “Whole Paycheck,” you’d probably do better to buy a home near TJ’s—and load up on some Two-Buck Chuck while you’re at it.
3. Sports facilities
Walking distance to the big game? Score! Living near a stadium clearly is not a hard sell for sports fans, but even those without an obsessive rooting interest in the local teams should pay close attention if there’s a major sports facility nearby.
Moving a residential housing unit one mile closer to a professional sports facility increases its value by $793. But the effect disappears after four miles, according to researchers at the College of William and Mary and University of Alberta, who extracted property data within 5 miles of every NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL facility in the U.S. So sidle up to that stadium—just be sure you have a dedicated parking space.
4. Trees on the street
Everyone knows that stately old-growth trees add major charm to a neighborhood—and are probably an indicator of more expensive homes. But did you know just how expensive? A recent study found that houses on streets where there were trees fetched an average of $7,130 more than houses on treeless streets. Maybe it’s time to consider branching out.
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