The key to ensuring the successful sale your home is truly understanding your local real estate market in the current conditions. By “local,” I do not mean the city–Los Altos, for example–or the region–the Silicon Valley or the Bay Area–but rather I am talking about your neighborhood. If you’re thinking of selling, whether it be in the next few months or years down the line, it is essential to know what kinds of homes are in your immediate neighborhood or street, in addition to understanding the factors that affect the value of these local homes like schools and crime. Here are some tips from Intero President & CEO Gino Blefari to help you get to know your local market:

  • Take a leisurely stroll through some open houses next Sunday. Sure, you may aggravate the real estate agent who’s trying to get the house sold, but you’ll get a sense of what’s out there. What kinds of houses does your home compete against? What kinds of upgrades do they have that yours doesn’t? What price ranges are you seeing for homes similar to yours? Attending open houses also gives you the chance to chat with agents who are selling homes in the area.
  • Become a casual web surfer. Check out current for-sale listings for your neighborhood. Track any trends you see such as average time it takes to sell, price reductions, number of bank-owned homes for sale. This will help you to get a sense of how fast things are moving and what kind of supply and demand dynamic is happening near your home.
  • Get local with news. Start doing web searches about the schools in your neighborhood and crime (if it exists). This will help you understand the desirability factor of your home’s location. Things change – just because your schools were the best in the state when you bought your home six years ago, doesn’t mean they are today.

As we’ve seen these last few years, times change and values are not always predictable. Some areas also buck national trends–so relying on the nightly news to know what’s up with your home value is a bad strategy.