As a homebuyer, how can you pinpoint a property that will gain value in the future rather than decline? Instead of relying on hunches, Allan Weiss suggests you take an analytical approach.
Weiss is founder and CEO of a new company he contends can help buyers (and sellers) avert costly timing errors. Called Weiss Residential Research, the firm was started to help Wall Street better track real estate values. But its reports are now available to consumers, as well.
“Before you buy any house, you want to be sure it’s not weakening in value — unless you’re getting a tremendously good deal or plan to live there for a very long time,” said Weiss.
Weiss is no stranger to the science of property valuations. He was involved in the development of a price tracker that’s widely used to chart the direction of home values. Now known as the Case-Shiller Index, it follows pricing patterns in more than 5,000 U.S. ZIP codes.
In contrast, the new Weiss index seeks to provide more precise reports on individual houses. These are designed to predict if a property will rise, fall or stay the same for a period of at least one year into the future. In essence, Weiss, which now has 50 million homes in its massive database, offers an early warning system for what’s ahead.
To make its predictions for a particular property, the new company draws on widely available data, such as tax assessments and appraisal reports, for like homes near the subject property. Weiss said that’s a more precise approach than taking an average of varied properties within the same ZIP code.
“Suppose that within the same ZIP code you have some houses worth $200,000 and others worth $2 million. They’re going to have very different supply-and-demand economics. You’ve got to watch out for averages, which can be very misleading,” Weiss said.
For a $25 fee, you can purchase a trend report for a particular property through the Weiss website (www.weissres.com). This is designed to tell you, in percentage terms, how the value of the property has changed in recent years and what to expect within the next year or longer.
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