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Five potentially useful indicators of the likely movement of value

Clay Sparkman

Any good real estate investor should be attempting  to assess whether property values are rising, falling, or holding in the area of his/her latest potential investment. After all, the core question when buying investment property (particularly short-term) is, “what is value likely to do in the next year or so?” If you sense that values are likely to fall in a certain investment region, you had better take that into account when deciding whether or not to invest, and for how long. And if you decide to invest, given this information (whatever it may lead you to believe), you will be able to better assess your investment risk, potentially reward, and appropriate strategy.

The direction of property values is not an easy thing to predict, but if one really wants to inform themselves with regard to what property values might be doing in the near future, than there are three pretty good things to look at.

But first, what not to count on: If you are looking at whether or not property values are rising, falling or holding today, just remember that this is a trailing indicator. At best it will tell you what is happening now, and even worse, it may be a better indicator of what happened several months ago. Look at this info, but don’t take it very seriously as an indicator of what is going to happen next.

And so, here are five leading indicators that I would recommend you consider:

(1) The rural test: Ask  yourself what property values are doing in rural (or more remote) areas. Those values tend to lead the values of properties in more concentrated areas. So, if you are suddenly witnessing a notable fall in values in rural areas, chances are that other values in the region will follow.

(2) The time-on-market test: Determine what the average time on market is as you assess potential opportunities . For residential properties 3-6 months is fairly normal, and would tend to indicate that values will be holding for awhile. Last time I checked in Portland, the average time on market for residential properties was 1.7. This is a very low number and a very good indicator that values are on the rise.

(3) Look at the ratio of replacement cost to purchase price. If the ratio of replacement cost to purchase price is high, then property values are likely to rise, at least for the near-term future.

(4) Look at the growth rate of a particular area. Portland, Oregon–where we are located–has become a very desirable destination over time, so the growth rate in Oregon just due to people relocating to the state, continued to push prices up for several years after prices in most other states had leveled up. This could have been predicted by looking at a growth-rate curve.

(5) The wild card. This is not a predictor, so much as a red flag. The political situation is such in the USA at this moment in time, that most large markets are weary (stock market, real estate markets, etc). So far, the new administration has seemingly been good for these markets (or certainly not bad), but we may have crossed a line to the point where uncertainty is going to become more and more of a factor in market pricing. so, take this as a general note: Pay attention to what is happening politically, as it may have adverse consequences for economic markets (or even positive consequences in certain markets). As always, we encourage you to keep your investment resources highly diversified, and keep a close eye on the news.

Let me know if you have any other indicators that you use. We would like to hear about them.

– Clay (clay@privatemoneysource.com, 503-476-2909)

Clay is Vice President of Fairfield Financial, a primary source for private money since 1964.  Fairfield is currently targeting loans in OR, WA, AK, CA, CO, ID, FL, GA, ID, MT, NV, NY, OK and TX.  To submit a loan to Fairfield for consideration: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/loanproposal.php

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