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New site Pricing Nation forecasts whether your house will gain or lose value

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 5, 2013 07:33 AM

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A new startup from a team of Dartmouth College alums is selling a report that might be relevant if you're in the market to sell or buy real estate. Pricing Nation looks at an array of indicators about what's happening around a property — like wage trends in the area, business growth, and similar homes on the market — to produce a one-year forecast about whether the price of an individual home will rise or fall over the coming year. While the company charges $20 for reports on a specific street address, it offers a free forecast about what'll happen in a ZIP code area, which can be useful to buyers looking in that neighborhood.

"There's a pretty big range in the greater Boston area about what we predict will happen over the next year, with some neighborhoods dropping 12 percent [Plymouth] and others going up 10 percent [Foxboro]," says co-founder Tony Ettinger. (My ZIP in Brookline is predicted to rise by 1.46 percent over the coming year, while the overall Boston market is expected to go up 0.64 percent.) Ettinger says the estimates could prove useful to sellers, in terms of thinking about the right time to list their home, or for buyers who "don't want to catch a falling knife. If the value is still going down on a property, that might be relevant to them." Ettinger also suggests that Pricing Nation's forecasts might be useful to buyers negotiating the final sale price with a seller.

Ettinger says that the estimates are based on eight key data points, including unemployment figures; interest rates; home inventory nearby; and the uniqueness of the property type. The company is offering forecasts for seven counties in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, including Norfolk, Suffolk, and Middlesex. Ettinger says they'll expand into five more metro areas in the next few months, including New York.

"A lot of the information you can get is telling you what happened to home prices in the past," says Ettinger. "We think the one-year forecast, on a home-by-home level, can be really valuable to people." He says the company is already having discussions about licensing its forecasts to real estate related sites.

Brian Ramirez, Pricing Nation's chief revenue officer, explained a bit more about the company's methodology by e-mail. "Our forecasts are based upon a suite of regression models whose most predictive variables are the major influencers of local supply and demand that have been built on ten years of back-tested data. Our back-models predicted both the downturn and the bottom of home prices in the Boston MSA roughly one year before these events."

The six-person Pricing Nation team all hold degrees from Dartmouth, though they're spread across the planet, from Hanover, NH to New York to Boston to India.

Here's a map they produced that illustrates their forecasts for the Boston area, and below that, a list of the towns expected to have the biggest increases and biggest decreases in value over the coming year.

pricingnationmap.jpg

Biggest Increases:

Foxboro, MA (02035) +10.23%
Stow, MA (01775) +9.82%
Barrington, NH (03825) +9.60%
Westwood, MA (02090) +9.05%
Norwood, MA (02062) +8.87%
Sharon, MA (02067) +8.84%

Biggest Decreases:

Plymouth, MA (02360) -11.92%
Wareham, MA (02571) -11.13%
Hingham, MA (02043) -10.40%
Center Barnstead, NH (03225) -9.92%
Somersworth, NH (03878) -9.72%
Hopkinton, MA (01748) -9.44%
Hull, MA (02045) -9.32%

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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