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Median Sales Price Does Not Equal Local Home Values

We're often led to believe that the median sales price in any given area is a reflection of home values. Most economic reports and local housing indicators use this number to determine market conditions. The median home sale price is actually the point where half of all homes sold above a certain price, and half sold below. It is reflective of sales trends, not home values. When the median homes price is low for any given area, there are many potential causes that are unrelated to true home values. For instance, during a slow market, or season, most sales may occur in the entry level range of homes. Just because a large number of fixer uppers, foreclosures and mobile homes have sold during a given period does not mean that the average family home has lost substantial value. It means that most buyers are looking for low end properties. Again, the median sales price reflects a trend, not the value of any particular home. Similarly, when a high number of upper end home sales occur in a particular area, that does not mean that prices have gone through the roof. It simply means that more people have bought higher end homes. Do not, however, ignore median home price trends. If most sales are on the lower end of the spectrum, that generally means there's less competition for mid-range and luxury homes. For example, if there are 20 homes on the market in the $300,000 price range, and 2 buyers per month purchase a home in this price range, then it will take an average of 10 months to find a buyer, given that all of these homes are of the same general quality. Those who need to sell will reduce the prices on their homes, or improve the value. The best valued homes will sell first. The least valued homes may not sell at all. Sellers must compete for buyers. In a recovering market, where most entry level homes have already sold, there's generally a push to move upward, into a more substantial home. Many families have either outgrown their home, or have made improvements over time and would like a better home. This increases the demand for mid-range and luxury homes, and is an indicator of the market heating up. When selling a mid-range or luxury home, after this point and before the peak of the market is the best time to sell for those who plan to downsize, or rent. In contrast, if your plan is to move up to a larger home in the same area, a slow market may offer better opportunities as most buyers are competing for entry-level homes. You'll have greater bargaining power if you're moving into higher price range. Another commonly used measurement of market trends is the Average Sales Price. This is where the total dollar amount of sales is divided by the number of homes sold. This can be skewed as well. If, for instance, the multi-million dollar mansion in town that sells every 20 years or so is sold during a given period, the average home sale price will be very high. Several factors can have a very distinct effect on the value of homes in a given market. Employment and incomes have a direct influence on home values. High employment increases value. High income levels increase values even more. As you've always heard, location has a direct influence on value. Homes by the ocean, lakes, mountains, and many urban developments are often in greater demand and command more value. Where location is the driving influence, everything counts: excellent schools, low crime, desirable locations and neighborhoods. To get a realistic idea of the value of your home, a real estate agent will conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This will compare your property to homes that have already sold. This is important because you may need this information if an appraiser comes up with a lower figure for the value of your home. In a CMA, your property will also be compared to similar properties that are currently on the market. This will give you substantial insight into the properties your home must compete with. If you're looking to get a true reflection of your property's market value, contact a Realtor. Realtors rarely charge for a Comparative Market Analysis when you're looking to put your property on the market. If the price meets your needs, and fits into your plans, your agent can usually get your property on the market very quickly.