Home Insight - Property Value and Home Price Check
How Much Will Your Home in the Midwest be Worth Tomorrow?
Written by: Lankarge/Nahorney for HomeInsight

What will your Chicago home be worth in six months? How long will it take to sell? If you are considering buying a home in the suburbs of Detroit, will you be in the driver's or passenger's seat? And how long is all of this going to take?
Too Much Information?
With the availability of a myriad of economic data, it is easy to get overwhelmed with information, some of which holds few, if any, clues as to the future direction of the housing market. Over the past 10 years the Midwest hasn't seen the type of price appreciation that led to economists warning about a housing bubble, so the possibility of a sudden, dramatic drop in housing prices is lower than in other regions.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average home price in the Midwest is the lowest in the country, at $167,800, as of the second quarter 2005, the highest region being the West, at $312,600.

While the Midwest lacks the oceanfront that has driven prices through the roof on the East, West and Gulf Coasts, it nonetheless has another barometer of home prices for a large part of the region, and that is auto sales - to be specific, auto sales for the big three - Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. When sales are strong for the big three that has a stabilizing force on home sales in portions of the Midwest, as a significant portion of the economy is based on direct employment of the big three, or suppliers to them.

Overall, the Midwest has fairly stable home prices with several regions of Illinois showing stronger home appreciation recently, including the Bloomington, Normal region; Chicago, Naperville, Joliet; Rockford; Peoria; as well as the Green Bay area of Wisconsin.

It is relatively easy to find out what a house in the Midwest was worth six months ago, or what it might be worth today. But trying to determine what a home in the Northeast will be worth in six months or a year isn't quite so easy. Read on and we'll help you to get some answers.

Looking Ahead

You know that housing values don't increase forever, but where do you start to determine values going forward? Review the following five prime indicators of future housing values.

1. Time on market.

One of the leading indicators of future home prices is the length of time that houses are on the market. When houses are quickly moving on and off of the market, that means that the market is hot, and demand is likely outstripping supply. Over the long run, when demand outstrips supply, prices increase. Click here to get a market snapshot of how long homes have been on the market and how long it took for homes to sell.

Of course as prices increase this can lead to more people putting their homes on the market, as they attempt to lock in big profits. Growing families might be looking to trade up to a larger home, while empty nesters might be considering trading down to a smaller home or to a lower priced and/or warmer region. Find out what kind of homes are for sale and in which areas by clicking here.

2. Consumer confidence.

Another piece of information that can help you to determine future pricing is consumer confidence, another leading indicator. Consumer confidence that is increasing or holding steady at a high rate generally supports the housing market, because people who are confident about the future direction of the economy are more likely to be active buyers. Of course the opposite is true - a drop in consumer confidence can often lead to a softer housing market in which prices stop increasing, and can decrease.

3. Mortgage rates.

Of course a big factor in the housing market is the current mortgage rates. While 30-year mortgage rates plummeted to 40-year lows in 2003, they have since increased but still remain historically low (30-year rates were more than 9 percent in January 1995). But rapidly increasing mortgage rates can have a dampening affect on a slowing housing market. Additionally, should underwriting begin taking a more conservative route to writing mortgages, those with poor credit could get squeezed out of the market, and cut demand.

4. Unemployment rate.

A lagging indicator that often helps to influence consumer confidence is the unemployment rate. Trends in the unemployment rate are often as important as the level of unemployment, as a sudden increase or decrease in the unemployment rate will affect home values. As a lagging indicator, by the time the unemployment rate shows a substantial move in either direction (for example a half point), a trend in housing prices has often already established.

5. Regional housing values.

Finally, learning the overall direction of housing values in your region can help you to make educated buying or selling decisions. Housing values don't increase forever, nor do they drop for long periods of time, but, historically speaking, flat or slow growth of perhaps 2 percent per year is a widely quoted long-term average.

Putting It Together

So now you have a look at economic indicators that may help portend what future housing prices in your region might be, how do you analyze the information? In Chicago in 2003, interest rates were at 40-year lows, consumer confidence was strong, the unemployment rate was low, and homes went on and off the market in days. That led to a market that economists characterized as overheated, because values increased at double-digit rates. But you might not always have indicators that all point in the same direction.

The indicator that you should look to first is the length of time that houses are on the market. If this indicator increases from, for example, an average of 60 days to 75 days and then to 90 days, it is clearly indicating that the market is slowing, that values will likely be no better than flat, and, should the trend continue, prices may decrease.

Where You Live

Housing values in your region can help determine the general direction of the housing market in your area, but how about exactly where you live? Click here to get more specific information about housing values in your area. Getting detailed information about housing values in your neighborhood can help you make educated buying and selling decisions, and is often helpful when deciding whether to add on to your home or simply find a new home with the new options you seek. Click here to get home values and sale prices in selected cities.

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