Market Study Fundamentals

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    Mar 21, 2013
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Market Study Fundamentals Photo by Pat Oconnor

Market studies provide insight into the current and future level of rental rates, occupancy, absorption, construction and demolition within a defined market or submarket. Market studies are performed to evaluate real estate market conditions with regard to an existing or proposed property. The focus of a market study details competition within the submarket and the strength or weakness of the submarket. Also, market study indicates that the submarket will continue to improve or weaken and how the existing or proposed subject property is likely to perform within the submarket. Research regarding existing construction, proposed construction and historical absorption form the basis predicting absorption and occupancy.

Most market studies are obtained by developers contemplating building a new apartment project, condominium project, commercial property or subdivision. Market studies are also requested for office buildings, retail centers, self storage facilities, warehouses, and many other types of property. In some market studies, the developer wants independent thought and insights regarding market conditions and the probability of success. In other market study cases, either partners or a lender require independent analysis regarding the proposed project. Independent analysis can provide insights from a professional analyst with a fresh perspective.

While market studies are obtained for proposed projects, many real estate owners and investors benefit from market studies and/or market research for existing projects. Detailed due diligence is often prepared prior to building or purchasing a property. However, this level of focused research and analysis is seldom performed 3 to 5 years after a property has been purchased or built. The studies address upgrading interior amenities, common area amenities, or repositioning the property so it is better received by the market. Market research for an existing property can determine the prospective and concerns of existing tenants, prospective tenants, and independent leasing agents regarding the subject property. This market research can discern latent problems negatively affecting the property. Discovering fundamental problems prior to acquisition can help avoid financial loss and heartache.

Elements of a market study typically include market rent or condo sale prices, market occupancy, absorption, projects under construction, proposed construction, capture rate for the subject property and the timing likely required to achieve stabilized occupancy for the proposed property. In many cases, market analysts are asked for insight regarding unit amenities, common area amenities, building size, unit sizes, and the overall level of finish for a property. In some cases, the developers simply ask the market analyst to conceptually design a project which best fits the subject market and location. Developers new to an area benefit most by requesting a conceptual design market study.

Market rent, condo sale prices and occupancy are determined by researching properties which are comparable to the existing or proposed subject property. Market absorption is ideally obtained from aggregate data provided by a primary data collector (someone who comprehensively surveys all properties in the market). Information on properties under construction and proposed for construction are obtained from a variety of sources including interviews with developers, brokers, data services, city permits and driving the subject submarket. Accurate information on properties under construction and proposed is both difficult to obtain and essential to performing a market study.

The market analyst develops opinions regarding market rental rates or asking prices for condos and occupancy for the subject property after compiling and analyzing the above referenced data. One of the critical opinions is the time required for a property to reach stabilized occupancy. This factor substantially affects the financial feasibility of the project. Absorption rates for a new type of property (i.e. very large units for retirement housing) can require extensive research.

Consider the project experience, depth of staff and experience of the consultant prior to engaging a consultant engaging a market study. A skilled market analyst can not only provided meaningful insights to market conditions and trends, but can also assist in refining development decisions regarding the project.

OConnor & Associates has prepared over 1,000 market studies for apartments, office, office warehouse, retail, industrial, subdivisions, single-family and special use properties. We provide market study and appraisal services on a nationwide basis. Our 30+ market analysts have over 300 years of collective experience.

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