USA introduces new Web site

By Curt Chapman
Staff Writer
Posted 7/25/07

It’s the dawn of a new era for professionals and individuals who would like to track the real estate market. The University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business Center for Real Estate Studies recently launched its first Web site, which …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get the gift of local news. All subscriptions 50% off for a limited time!

You can cancel anytime.
 

Please log in to continue

Log in

USA introduces new Web site

Posted

It’s the dawn of a new era for professionals and individuals who would like to track the real estate market. The University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business Center for Real Estate Studies recently launched its first Web site, which includes local real estate market information such as pricing and sales trends.

“We’re trying to identify price and trend by location,” said Dr. Don Epley, center director and distinguished professor of real estate at USA Mitchell. “If you’re interested in price or historic price, this site has value to you.”

The site includes Baldwin Market Watch and Mobile Market Watch, downloadable analysis of real estate market data for both counties. The Web site also features the Center for Real Estate Studies Advisory Board, a panel of 27 area real estate professionals.

Epley said the center is currently producing a new report on Baldwin County’s economy, which it will issue soon. Reports in well over a dozen categories are currently available on the site, and they are all based on data collected exclusively on the Alabama coast.

The University of Alabama has similar information publicly available, he said, adding the Tuscaloosa program tracks the state as a whole, while the USA information is more focused.

“We’re the only game in town,” according to Epley. “The president (Gordon Moulton, USA head) decided USA needed to be doing this. Commercial vendors don’t have as much interest in coming in here as they do Atlanta. If the university didn’t do this, it wouldn’t get done. It’s going to be an asset to the whole real estate community.”

Some of the available data includes price trends for residential properties broken down by quarter for the last two years. It lists the total number of properties sold, including condominiums. Building permits by jurisdiction are also tallied, enabling home buyers and sellers to understand which areas are hot and which are not.

Epley said, “We’ve tried to identify that information by single-family, duplex and multifamily, three to five (residents), and five and above. We’ve also have several reports on commercial office buildings, industrial properties and retail properties. We looked at all the properties we could find that were for lease or for sale.”

Other information was included, he said, including the average asking price per square foot, total square footage and property sorted by zip code. Also, the average lease rate by zip code, the vacancy rate per building and empty lots were targeted.

“We’re looking at ways to expand the data,” Epley said. “The Mobile reports are easier than Baldwin because Baldwin is not part of the Metropolitan Statistical Area.”

He noted the report on Baldwin County’s GNP (so called because the information is similar to national gross national product data) is built using the same methodology applied in Mobile, however.

“I have reports on my desk,” Epley said. “We have really good growth figures for Baldwin. The next three months are looking good.”

He promises all the reports, which are compiled by staff and university students, are easy to digest, and are purposely limited to five pages or less. Some, in fact, are a single page in length.

Epley said, “It’s taking a lot of time to put them together. I think there’s really good information on prices and trends by location.”

The site will become part of a national network of real estate resources, he said. It will also provide information to students about advising and the Mitchell College of Business’ professional educational programs.

Epley plans a one-day real estate summit Feb. 27 at the Mobile Convention Center. He said he led similar events before he moved here from his former home in the Northwest.

“I’m not reinventing the wheel,” he said. “There will be eight speakers, but no geopolitical topics — only prices and trends by location with handouts. We’re going to do that all day long, and you’ll have a handout you can take home. You’ve got to talk about data. We can be a lot more detailed because we only investigate the market.”

The USA Mitchell College of Business began its real estate program in fall 2006, offering a bachelor’s of marketing degree with a real estate concentration. The program included the initiation of the Center for Real Estate Studies.

For more information, visit http://cres.southalabama.edu/.