Tom Keene Talks to Metrostudy's Brad Hunter

Tom talks with Brad Hunter, chief economist of real estate researcher Metrostudy, about home prices, haves and have-nots, and empty nesters

How do you do your research?
We have about 400 researchers that go and drive every street of every subdivision that we cover. They’re looking for curtains in the windows and welcome mats to really make sure somebody’s actually moved into the house, which is critical information when we’re talking about how much inventory is left in markets.

Will house prices go down further?
I think house prices will go down a bit further, 8 or 9 percent at the most. What I think is happening though is that new home prices in the best submarkets are turning up. So you’ll see price increases even in Las Vegas and in Southern California and Naples and Fort Myers.

Is today’s new house different from the new house at the peak of the boom? What the builders are doing is they’re rolling out what they call the turbo version of the house. Oftentimes it’s a “green” house; it’s got more energy-efficient insulation, appliances, things like that—technology that really wasn’t in use very much even four or five years ago.

Is today’s new house bigger?
Buyers are saying—the haves, not the have-nots—they want a big house, in fact, sometimes bigger than the house that they had before. And boomers more in the empty-nester phase still want a very nice house. Sometimes they still want a large house.

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