As the Valley's battered real estate market transitions into recovery, Arizona State University has hired an analyst who will produce more information for the public to understand this often volatile industry.
Mike Orr stepped into his new role this month as the director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W.P. Carey School of Business. Orr plans to develop regular reports about residential real estate so homeowners, agents, developers and policymakers have a better grasp on current conditions and what's likely to come.
A comprehensive database could signal warnings of things like the disastrous real estate bubble that began building mid-decade, Orr said.
"I feel it would have been very useful back in '04 and '05 if people had more visibility about what was going on in the market. It wouldn't have gotten so crazy," Orr said. "In real estate, generally, there is a really long lag in information begin collected and being distributed."
Orr is known for creating a market analysis called The Cromford Report, a subscription-only service that provides daily updates. It's grown from 100 subscribers in 2008 to more than 12,000 today. He will maintain that report while taking on his ASU role.
The Cromford Report was seen as a groundbreaking analysis into real estate when it debuted, said Bob Bemis, CEO of the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Because Orr was a real estate agent previously, he has a greater perspective, Bemis said.
"He knows from personal experience what buyers and sellers and real estate agents are going through in the streets," Bemis said. "So it's not just a statistician's or academic approach. He knows what those numbers mean. His reports are real, not just hypothetical."
Orr said his new reports will be an extension of the work from Cromford. He plans to get the information out on smart phones and other mobile devices. Because he's new to his job, Orr is still examining what form his reports will take and what sources he'll use.
Cromford relies on data from the multiple listing service, which restricts how the information can be released. He's researching other potential sources now.
After launching the residential reports, Orr plans to expand into the multi-family, commercial and office segments to improve knowledge of those markets.
Orr replaced Jay Butler, who retired last year after four decades at ASU.
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