While Dodd-Frank effectively banned the affordability products responsible for the housing bubble, in the wake of the price collapse, lawmakers struggle with unresolved issues pertaining to mortgage finance, Market InSite Real Estate Advisors’ Larry Roberts tells GlobeSt.com. Roberts was recently appointed chief economist of the firm, a data and research firm affiliated with Land Advisors and Landmark Capital Advisors. We spoke with him exclusively about his new role and some of the challenges facing the residential market today.
GlobeSt.com: What are your goals in your new role with Market InSite?
Roberts: When I researched the housing market for my book, The Great Housing Bubble, I discovered a methodology for valuing individual properties as well as entire markets called rental-parity analysis. Building on this analysis, our team developed a report incorporating resale-market and new-home data useful for parties active in the infill market, a segment underserved by existing housing-market studies and data analysis. Our study detailing the project entitlement pipeline down to the local level is unique in the industry, and we also publish studies on recent land sales that track finished-lot values. Our team share the common goal of bringing these tools to homebuilders, developers and financial institutions who need to evaluate their investments in the context of broader market trends.
GlobeSt.com: As an economist, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing the residential market today?
Roberts: In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing the real estate market today relates to finance. While Dodd-Frank effectively banned the affordability products responsible for the housing bubble, in the wake of the price collapse, lawmakers struggle with unresolved issues pertaining to mortgage finance. The GSEs and the FHA still insure about 70% of the loans in the market, and interest rates are near record lows. What will happen when the government guarantees are removed? If interest rates go up, which isn’t certain, it will make houses more expensive to finance. What will that do to sales volumes and prices? These are the questions that cause me worry about the future of housing.
GlobeSt.com: Please elaborate on the new research subscription model you are working on and how it will impact the real estate industry.
Roberts: The real estate industry has many tools for professionals. However, these existing tools provide scant analysis to help clients interpret and use the data. We use some of these tools, but we augment and improve the data accuracy utilizing our broker network. We also pioneered many time-saving techniques to automate data gathering, analysis and reporting. Through our subscription model, we provide timely and accurate data and insightful analysis to clients on a regular basis, keeping our subscribers abreast of market fluctuations and trends. Our reports save our clients time and money by compiling data they need, analyzing it and presenting the data in an easy-to-use format. Our clients tell us our reports help them make better investment decisions.
GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about this model?
Roberts: Because of our broker network, we have data and analysis reporting unique in the industry. Our rental-parity analysis and our entitlement pipeline reports answer key questions about market valuation and future project competition; these reports are found nowhere else. The subscription model allows us to easily deliver valuable information tailored to our clients’ needs. Three different levels of reporting are available. Our subscribers can choose between standard reports, providing great detail at the county level, an overview at the city level and a synopsis by zip code where data is available; semi-custom reports tailored to provide more detail in areas where clients are most interested; and fully customized reports with an executive summary provided by Market InSite. In effect, we become an extension of the client’s staff, providing timely reporting and analysis at a fraction of the cost of an in-house analyst.