What indicators predict a "hot market" and it's longevity

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My current market, Northern Colorado, would be described as "cool" by a lot of us, including Zillow (because that's so credible). Another market, Pierce County, WA (Oly, Tacoma, etc), for example, is considered "very hot."

So my question is - what, in your eyes, contributes to a market being "hot" or it being a sellers market and is there any factor that would indicate how long it may last? Sorry if the answer is too obvious or too vague. Still very new to RE. Just trying to get some insight from some of the big dog's that have been in the industry for a while.

On a personal note, I would hate to leave this market almost as soon as getting licensed, but, with two other small, but possible streams of income there in the Pac-NW, aside from real estate, it would be feasible and is tempting. but let us keep this real estate related.

Looking at the population, it is also double the size of my current market, at least as of 2010 (795k vs 330k)

Thoughts BP

I think you're asking about home sales. If that is the case, then the following are factors that I've previously used to determine if a market is hot:

-Inventory of Homes...there's an old rule of thumb about a balanced market, buyer's market, seller's market, etc. This cannot fail you. It is a simple calculation of supply and demand. If there's only a few months (or less!) of inventory and there is plenty of job growth, population growth, etc. then it's pretty clear that the market will remain "hot" as demand will exceed supply.

-Pricing Trends & Sales Activity...are prices rising? How fast? What is the % of income that the median mortgage payment would take? Compare that to the AMI and that will help you determine if the recent increases are sustainable over the long term. You need to have your pulse on the market by speaking with brokers. What inventory sits on the market? What inventory receives multiple offers?

-New Homes...this is another factor. How much inventory of new homes is coming online and what incentives are builders offering? 

Those are some general metrics I would look at. The question I have for you is: What is the purpose of doing this research? Are you trying to see if you should leave Fort Collins, CO to move to Washington State? If so, my opinion is that both markets are active and will continue to be based on the job and population growth in those regions. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is for your long-term benefit and not a short-term decision based on the "tempting" and "feasible" other "small, but possible" streams of income. If you're going to be an agent, you are the business and you should establish deep roots. Nonetheless, no matter where you go I think you can be successful and achieve your goals.

I wish you the best and hope this was helpful!

I think home sales as well as inventory play a big part. As @Enrique Huerta suggested inventory is a great indication. Generally less than 6 months of inventory is a sellers market. Greater than 6 months is a buyers market. You can also break down the region into small chunks. I would think there has to be some pockets of N Colorado that are hot. 

Avg days on market as well is a good indicator.

Check city planning and see if any companies are moving their headquarters to your area or see signs of job growth.

There is no way to predict what will happen next but RE is about trends, and you just have to get good at reading the trends.