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Consumers who watch the real estate market like investors watch the stock market can buy and sell homes with the acumen of a shrewd day trader.

But as day traders know, it's not quite as easy at it sounds.

It takes time, practice and patience. You won't make a killing over night, but over time you will enjoy the security of a roof over your head which can double as an investment with hefty returns, says real estate investor of 30-years Robert M. Campbell.

Campbell is turning information he's shared with real estate investment clients into a self-published new book "Timing The Real Estate Market" due out in October.

With the current investment detour around Wall Street to get to Main Street and real estate investments instead of stock investments -- the book about timing is pretty well-timed itself.

"I don't care if you are someone who is buying a home to live in or if you are the pure investor, everybody is interested in making money in real estate. Your net worth is directly tied to real estate. It's everybody's piggy bank," said Campbell, a San Diego-based mortgage and real estate broker and investment advisor who publishes the Web-based San Diego Real Estate Report.

Generally, the book is a guide to monitoring real estate market trends and investigating realty market ups and downs to determine the right time to buy or sell a home at a sizable profit.

Campbell, who has a San Diego State University master's degree in real estate finance and a UCLA bachelor's degree in economics, says his training and experience makes him better than the average number cruncher at interpreting trends' nuances and pinpointing moves. He sells his experience when he markets his services to prospective clients who would rather he do the market analyses.

He insists, however, consumers can also play the game -- and win. Because real estate market change occurs relatively slowly, consumers don't have to aim at a moving target, but can successfully shoot for a good-sized window of change.

"If you want to take the time to do it on your own, you can do it. Anybody who reads this book will have the formulas. But you and I both know human nature. Is someone going to pay me or are they going to do it on their own? The book lays the foundation that gives me credibility about what I'm doing and if you read the book it will all make sense to you," says Campbell.

Not a get-rich-quick real estate tome, the book instructs readers how to obtain information to track five key indicators, and what they mean individually and together in terms of timing buys and sells.

"Every month, follow a publication or publications to get the five key indicators. Start logging them. Use a spreadsheet to chart them. One or two months doesn't make a trend. Trends develop over the long term. Create a graph and start seeing them go up and down. This is not what I think. This is what the market tells me," Campbell says.

So what are those five key indicators? Cautioning that one indicator alone does not make a trend or a decision to buy or sell, Campbell says the key indicators to watch are:

  • Interest Rates. Rising interest rates have a depressing effect on real estate prices. Falling rates help generate demand. That boosts prices.
  • Building Permits. When demand is strong, builders pull more building permits so they can build and sell homes. Unwilling to be stuck with homes they can't sell in a softer market, builders reduce the number of permits when demand drops.
  • Home Sales. Simple principles of supply and demand affect home sales. When buyers buy prices rise. When buyers retreat so do prices.
  • Loan Defaults. Defaulting home owners are having job or money troubles or both. That signals a weakening economy.
  • Foreclosure Sales. Foreclosures signal even deeper consumer money troubles and a worsening economy. It also signals dropping home prices.

    But what about those unforeseen and unexpected events that can suddenly throw any market into shooting star or a falling star status -- earthquakes, war, terrorism, floods, hurricanes, insurance industry pull back, a real estate bubble?

    Campbell says no matter what's going on in the nation or the world, a real estate market that changes over night is rare. Recent media reports of the "rush" to invest in real estate because of falling stock prices, for example, has actually occurred over more than a year.

    "What it comes down to is that these vital signs take into account imbalances between supply and demand. What moves the market. If we are aware the demand for housing drops and that it's taking prices down, you'll see it in existing home sales falling, building permits will start to fall and delinquencies will start rising and foreclosures will be the last domino to fall," Campbell said.

    "It doesn't matter what is happening. What matters is what direction it's taking prices."

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