"Real estate is a local business, driven by local buyers and sellers, and best served by local professionals."
- Gary Keller, Founder, Keller Williams Realty- February, 2000
How has the rising popularity of Web 2.0 sites changed the face of real estate ? Not a whole bunch. In fact, most of the information gleaned from the new wave of real estate technology sites is wholly incorrect. Just ask a San Diego homeowner, looking to refinance. The frustration in their voices are deafening when they pull up their home on Zillow.com and discover that the market value is far below the "Zestimate"- I know; I deal with it every day.
Jon Dalton, a Phoenix Realtor, wrote about this very issue yesterday:
Case in point … this morning someone asked about whether it’s the right time to buy real estate in Casa Grande, a city about one-third of the way between Phoenix and Tucson in Pinal County. The first two agents to answer were from California - one from Mountain View, the other from San Francisco. Aside from pointing to an Altos Research chart, as one of them did, they don’t know a thing about Casa Grande. Probably couldn’t find it on a map if you spotted them the county. But they feel they have sufficient expertise to answer a market-specific question about the area.
Jon's correct on this. Local real estate markets are subject to certain intangibles that no "research house" can accurately grasp in "real-time". Local economic factors, like a plant closing, or a new company relocating, or in the case of Casa Grande, rising grain prices, can dramatically impact a real estate market- looking at past economic data won't tell you that. The expertise you receive from a local Realtor is chock full of an analysis of local trends, gossip, and rumor- that can be important.
Trulia Voices, for example, has hundreds Realtors answering market sensitive questions. This question was asked by a first-time home buyer in San Diego. Fully half of the responses were from agents more than 300 miles from our market- one from Atlanta.
Most of the good Realtors I know in California specifically concentrate on their area of expertise. While the principles may seem to be the same, the nuances of a local market, even when buying a bank-owned property are widely different.
There are submarkets in certain cities. In San Diego, La Jolla and Del Mar are holding their prices well while Eastlake and San Elijo hills are rapidly decreasing. Dan Green tells us that quality real estate information is granular, not mosaic. His visuals really bring the idea to life.
San Diego home buyers should work with a local real estate professional. Lenders with a real estate license may offer you a chance to "save money" for "writing up the offer". That could end up being extremely costly. If you need a referral to a good San Diego Realtor, I'm glad to point you in the right direction.