It is certainly a cliché that "all real estate is local." Yet the housing slump of the past five years has really emphasized the importance of this notion.

Housing sound bites seem to refer to national housing market averages, represented typically by the S&P/Case-Shiller report that includes many cities in housing bubble states, which weigh heavily on the averages. This isn't helpful to buyers and sellers in more stable markets like ours. Unfortunately, consumer confidence, critical to the housing market and so badly lacking recently, is driven primarily by this information.

Greater Cincinnati certainly has its share of distressed properties, but it also boasts many neighborhoods not so badly battered by housing price declines. In order to be knowledgeable in today's market, it is necessary to take the idea of all real estate being local to a neighborhood-by-neighborhood level.

One illustration of this can be found by looking at the 2011 Luxury Markets Report from Comey & Shepherd. This year's report covers 2010 compared with 2009. Of the 16 neighborhood markets surveyed, nine enjoyed average sale price increases.

Certainly, nothing we've heard in the news recently would lead anyone to believe that any real estate is appreciating or even holding steady. Still, it paints a different picture than one might expect.

One of the more interesting neighborhood markets is the downtown/urban market, one of the nine showing an average sale price increase. If you go downtown on a weekend night, you would be delighted by the buzz of activity.

Residential living has returned to downtown Cincinnati in a big way.

One of the great things about Greater Cincinnati is the diversity of housing stock, contributing, no doubt,to the relative housing stability we've enjoyed during the downturn. From urban to historic to new construction, Cincinnati is a unique collection of housing options.

The diversity and history of our housing stock supports several key aspects about our market. We were not a bubble market nor were we driven primarily by new construction to the extent many of the bubble markets were. Certainly, prices on average are down in our area. There is not the level of buyer activity that we see in a more balanced, healthy market. Still, well-priced houses are selling, and if a seller sells for less, it is also true that the seller, acting then as buyer, buys for less. â– 

Michael Sweeney, a native Cincinnatian, is owner of Comey & Shepherd Realtors City Office in Cincinnati.