I know you asked the question some time ago, but I wanted to add my two cents about using median sale price to show appreciation and depreciation.
It's long been the standard in the industry, and it's one useful data point that's best at showing longterm growth or decline. However, I think using it to definitively illustrate values in less than five-year or ten-year aggregates can be misleading.
For instance, many cities and towns in Eastern Massachusetts show a decline in value over the past year in median sale price even though we've seen price increases in certain types of homes in many communities since 2008. But, since the median price tells you the point at which there were an equal number of sales above and below that price, it can be skewed by small sample sizes or when one type of property is hotter than another.
In 2009, we had the First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit, which, unlike its predecessor, did not have to be repaid over time. This brought out more first-time buyers---which is always the real engine in any real estate market---in record percentages. In fact, nationally, 49 percent of all home sales last year were sold to first-timers, a record. Since homes bought by first-timers tend to be significantly less expensive than trade-up or luxury homes, and since sales of more expensive homes haven't been as strong the past couple of years, this can result in a median price that can be misleading.
If you take a type of home, say all 1,500--2,000-s.f, three-bedroom, two-bath homes and compare sale prices in each of the past three years, you'll likely see appreciation in most cities and towns in Eastern, Mass. But you'll see a mix of appreciation and depreciation in those towns when they include every type of home.
Even in the numbers Mary was kind enough to research and report, below, it looks like an up-and-down ride since 2005, including an approximate 9-percent drop between 2008 and 2009. But, except for the occasional desperate seller or distressed property, I guarantee you would have paid more for a starter home in Needham in any given month in 2009 than you would have in the same month of 2008.
Again, the industry has used median price as the measuring stick for decades, and it's useful as a quick, easy-to-digest snapshot of what's going on. But if you want a fuller picture, look at specific types of homes, year over year.
You can look at a resource like the Case-Schiller Index, which looks at this very type of thing. It can be pricey, but I think it gives you a much better measure of home values.
Bill Kuhlman, CRS, green
GRI, ABR, CBR, ASR, C-CREC, SRES, RECS
Kuhlman Residential Real Estate
2007-2008, 2010 President of the Board of Directors for
The Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents
2010 President-Elect of the Board of Directors for
The Mass. Chapter, Council of Residential Specialists (CRS)
781 444-1399 (phone)
According to the quarterly report for 4th quarter 2009 by MLS
Needham Heights (02494) Compared to last year there was a 19.75% increasse; 15 homes sold with average days on market of 78 at 96.7% of the asking price.
Needham (02492) Compared to last year there was a 14.91% increase; 46 homes sold in that quarter with average days on market of 94 days at 95.3% of the asking price.
Needham is in Norfolk County which shows a move to a seller's market. I have experienced this with my clients. There are multiple offers on properties in this county but all real estate is local and it does vary from
town to town.
I hope this is helpful! Please contact me at Mary@MaryCraneProperties.com with any questions.
Needham, MA Five Year Market Snapshot:
# sold av. $ days on market
2009 266 $722,218 90
2008 267 $785,675 87
2007 373 $748,577 95
2006 296 $768,865 103
2005 278 $811,702 61
Thanks, Mary Crane
Real Estate has declined across our state, but I will tell you that Needham is definitely one of the stronger communities in the Greater Boston region. Strong schools, access to major highways, and trains to Boston. What makes Massachusetts different is that most towns have their own schools and their are not county school systems. This makes each town truly independent and you must analyze town by town for real estate market data. My website is below and please feel free to contact me with further questions.