Long takes closer look at the market - The Explorer: Business

Long takes closer look at the market

Research center provides real-time data to brokers

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:01 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

He wants his real estate agents to know the market inside and out, every nook and cranny.

From 30,000 feet, it would appear that homes throughout the Tucson region are languishing on the market, fetching lower and lower prices, according to Kevin Kaplan, Long Realty marketing director.

Such a cursory scan of the market, however, churns up little in the way of detail, Kaplan suggests. And that may lead to missed opportunities.

Long Realty last month started an in-house research center to provide agents, buyers and sellers with the most current neighborhood-to-neighborhood housing data available. Using Multiple Listing Service data, the Long Research Center compiles detailed reports that include pricing trends, closed sale statistics and days of inventory over a period of weeks, months or years.

The idea behind putting that information at agents’ fingertips is simple, Kaplan explained recently.

“People are dying for information, but, unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of relevant information,” Kaplan said. “They’re running blind.”

Kaplan worries that broad-brush pronouncements of the area’s housing market collapse might force potential buyers or sellers to shy away from the fray altogether.

“All real estate is local,” he said during an interview at his River Road office.

The Long Research Center’s database can allow buyers to search various ZIP codes — even block-by-block, if they want to — for specific types of houses. They can narrow their searches to include a specific number of bedrooms or other features, and they can look for all available homes within certain price ranges.

The whole idea: There might be more available to buy or sell at better prices than a first, sweeping glance might reveal.

For example, a search in the 85704 ZIP code turned up about a six-month inventory of available homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 price range, according to Long data. Region-wide in May, the housing supply stood at seven months at that price range.

Knowing that, a buyer might conclude homes in that area could fetch prices on the higher end of that scale, suggested Kaplan, who has worked in real estate for the last 10 years.

In fact, from May 2006 to May 2008, homes in that area and in that price range lost 3 percent of their value (from $233,000 to $225,500 on average). Region-wide during that same period, values declined at higher percentages, in some cases by nearly 20 percent.

When a buyer looks at Tucson, he or she looks at homes in specific areas, which, in turn, often are governed by different market forces than those at play throughout the region as a whole, Kaplan said.

Armed with detailed information about specific slivers of the region’s housing market, Long’s agents might have more success finding buyers for their homes.

Since the Long Research Center opened for business on June 1, the center has processed more than 500 requests from the company’s agents, Kaplan said.

“We’re in a correction,” Kaplan said of the housing market, which has declined precipitously from the historic highs it had reached by 2005. “It goes up and goes down. Movement is always good.”

And, no matter the condition of the market, Kaplan added, opportunities to buy and sell at good prices always exist. With better data, people should be able to develop better pricing and selling strategies in any market.

In the coming months, the Long Research Center may even begin distributing its own laser-focused “market watch,” Kaplan said, by culling data from a variety of sources to reveal a more balanced picture of the industry across all segments of the market.

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