How well do you know your local real estate market? The answer to that question will have a lot to do with whether real estate investing provides a lucrative future for you and your family or rueful memories of what might have been.
By knowing your local real estate investing market, you're able to keep your finger on the pulse of your local community and to stay abreast of changes in trends, sales prices and rental rates. Knowing immediately about these changes is critical to your investing future. Here's how each of these three areas will affect your future:
Trends – National media outlets report gloom and doom outlooks for real estate, but even in the most depressed real estate market there are isolated pockets and neighborhoods with property values that are increasing. If you don't know your local real estate market, you're simply taking a wild guess as to value. When negotiating with a homeowner, it's imperative that you know what the property is worth. Otherwise, you run the risk of overpaying or offering too little, which could offend the property owner and get you kicked to the curb with your hat in your hand.
Another reason you want to know your local real estate market is because certain areas within a given community make better investments than others. If you invest your hard-earned dollars in an area that is declining, property values could fall and some or all of your investment could be at risk. By keeping an eye on trends within your local real estate market, you can more readily take advantage of opportunities to get in on the ground floor of an investment and ride the wave of property appreciation, which will have a positive impact on your bank account.
Sales prices – How much is property worth in your local real estate market? Do you have a clue? You need to be cognizant of local sales prices — especially now — because property values can change very rapidly. In today's volatile investing environment, it's not unusual for the value of a property to fluctuate by $10,000-$15,000 in a given month. If you have a property that you're considering selling, you can gain or lose a tremendous amount of money in no time.
Rental rates – Current knowledge of your local investing climate is imperative when determining what rental rates are in a particular neighborhood. If you do a cash flow analysis on a property and you assume that it will rent for $1,500 per month and in reality it will only generate $1,100, you could have a problem, especially if you were anticipating a positive monthly cash flow of $200. If the rent a property can command is $400 less than you anticipated, you would have a monthly loss of $200. Negative cash flow sets the stage for a constant drain on your financial resources, and could eventually cause you to rethink your commitment to real estate investing.
Today's real estate investing climate makes accurate and timely information critical to your success. If you don't know your local real estate market, you could be in serious trouble. An excellent way of developing a proper and accurate knowledge of your local market is by trailing an experienced mentor who knows what he or she is doing. In addition to teaching you how to analyze current market conditions, you'll also be able to better understand what to look for in your local real estate market.
Real estate investing is a great way to expand your financial opportunity, but a failure to know and understand all of the variables within your local market can very quickly erode opportunity. Learn your local real estate market and make this your best year ever!