The Local Real Estate Directory

The US real estate market is one of the most important contributors to the national economy, accounting for over 6 per cent of the United States' GDP. This industry is not only important in terms of its worth, but also because of its role generating employment and keeping the US economy competitive. The Local Real Estate Directory is dedicated to providing facts, data and statistics on the residential and commercial real estate market in the US along with information on how to become a licensed realtor in each of the 51 States.

Residential Property

Towards the end of 2014, the aggregated worth of the US residential market was estimated to be at $27.5 trillion. The housing market in the United States has been traditionally marked by a high number of housing starts (over 1.5 million a year until 2007), dropping to 584,000 a year in 2011.

Post-recession recovery accelerated in 2013-2014, but economists agree that price increases will slow down in the short term. Residential real estate is more affordable in the southern estates and in the MidWest. At the other end of the scale, the most expensive properties are in New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu. According to the National Association of Realtors, the top 5 housing markets in the US are Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord (North & South Carolina), Decatur (Illinois), South Bend-Mishawaka (Indiana), Port St Lucie (Florida), and Sherman-Denison (Texas). Other markets that stand out in terms of their profitability include Austin, Dallas, Forth Worth, and Houston (Texas), Provo (Utah), Orlando (Florida), Denver (Colorado), and Phoenix (Arizona).

Home ownership levels are at a record low, as only 63 per cent of the US population now owns a home. On the other hand, the residential rental market is expanding at fast pace, causing rapidly rising rental values, which in some areas are increasing twice as fast as inflation. Apartment occupancy is at an all-time high, with average national occupancy rates being in the region of 95.3 per cent. Rental growth has been evident even in markets where it was traditionally low, such as Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Baltimore.

The prices of residential real estate are likely to increase as the Millennial generation (the largest demographic cohort in the country) gets on the property ladder. Based on data released by Standard & Poor, the largest price increases have taken place in Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dallas, Portland, Denver, and Seattle. Price hikes are moderate or minimal in areas like New England, the Middle Atlantic, West North Central, and East South Central markets. Nationwide, rental prices increased by 2.7 per cent and now average $756 / month, although regional variations must be taken into account, since median asking rents have fallen in northeastern and western estates.

Commercial Property

A report published by the National Association of Realtors showed that the commercial real estate market is characterized by a solid performance, driven by low unemployment rates and increased confidence among consumers and investors. Investment returns nationwide average 3.57 per cent and are higher for retail properties (4.57 per cent). Retail is by far the best-performing commercial sub-market in the US, especially in coastal regions. Vacancy rates for retail properties are at their lowest in Long Island (4.9 per cent), Fort Lauderdale (4.7 per cent), San Jose (4.6 per cent) and San Francisco (3 per cent), whereas the Colorado Springs, Chattanooga, Dayton, Tulsa, and Indianapolis markets have the highest vacancy rates. Industrial real estate investments are highly profitable, with returns averaging 3.47 per cent.

The US office market is marked by rather high vacancy rates, although rental values are set to keep increasing moderately. The best-performing markets are the District of Columbia, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Richmond, and Philadelphia. On the other hand, supply of office space notoriously outstrips demand in Central New Jersey, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Memphis.

PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers have drawn attention to the emerging trends that are set to define the US real estate market over the next few years. Their report highlights the impact of technology in commercial real estate as a whole, as more employers are implementing telecommuting in order to reduce costs and e-commerce continues to gain momentum nationwide. The report also suggests that the most valuable investments are likely to involve value-added propositions and new industrial developments. Key markets to watch include Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, and Indianapolis.

Becoming a realtor

The real estate rental and leasing sector employs approximately 2 million people nationwide, and becoming a realtor appeals to many individuals. The requirements needed to obtain a real estate licence vary from state to state, although all candidates must enroll in an accredited real estate institution and pass an exam before applying for a licence. Background checks may also be required and having adequate errors and omissions insurance is often necessary. Newly qualified realtors cannot work independently until 2 years have passed. Additional certifications are available through institutions affiliated to the National Association of Realtors. Further information can be found at their website.