National Housing Market Outlook

Moneyball Comes to Housing

John Burns photo

John Burns

December 21, 2011
In 2002, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta of the Oakland A’s figured out how to find baseball players who were undervalued by relying on quantitative research that disproved rules of thumb that scouts had been using for years. In 2011, we saw many of our clients doing the same.
  • Value Engineering – By creatively addressing every single cost that goes into house, many builders are back to 1990 direct construction costs per square foot!
  • Internet Marketing – The Internet has made advertising so much more efficient, and really helped builders stay in touch with their prospects, customers and existing homeowners. Marketing dollars are being spent far more efficiently than before.
  • Consumer Feedback – Those who proactively collect email addresses have been doing surveys to understand all sorts of ways to get buyers off the fence to buy a home. The land developers seem to be the leaders in this type of research, although builders are following suit.
  • Energy Efficiency – New homes are now so much more energy efficient than resale homes that creative builders have made strides getting officials to consider a number of incentives for new homes in addition to the energy tax credits that already exist. These consider a suggested premium that appraisers can use over less efficient resale homes, and higher allowable debt to income ratios since new home buyers will have lower utility bills.
  • New Design – We have seen some amazing new home design driven by consumer input. While the energy-efficient and multigenerational homes have garnered much of the attention, our consulting team continues to see many unique designs that are being well-received by consumers.
  • Land Acquisition Tools – A number of builders have beefed up their land acquisition departments tremendously, putting together data-driven land acquisition packages that take much of the subjectivity out of the process. While some component of land acquisition will always be subjective, the smartest land buyers are making decisions with more confidence than ever before.
In summary, those who are relying on rules of thumb are getting left behind and leaving the industry. The “old guard” is being replaced by management who sees opportunities to run the business more effectively and with less risk. Management is getting a higher return on investment on all dollars spent. This is the wave of the future, as it should be.

Building Market Intelligence™

Every week, we deliver analysis to over 40,000 subscribers with our Building Market Intelligence™ newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly BMI newsletters to stay current on pressing topics in the housing industry.

About The Author

John Burns photo
John Burns
Chief Executive Officer
As CEO, John grows, leads, and supports a team of passionate, articulate, likable, and smart experts. Together, we solve today so our clients can navigate to tomorrow.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our services or if you would like to speak to one of our experts about we can help your business, please contact Client Relations at

Products and Services Mentioned

green check icon

Research Membership

Our research services enable our clients to gauge housing market conditions and better align their business and strategic investments in the housing industry. We provide a thoughtful and unique holistic approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help clients make informed housing investment decisions.
green check icon

Real Estate Consulting

Our experienced team of consultants helps clients make sound housing investment decisions. We thrive on their success and work with many clients over multiple years and numerous projects.
green check icon

New Home Trends Institute

The New Home Trends Institute pairs design inspiration with exclusive insights into the “why” behind consumers’ housing choices. Gain exclusive insight into housing preferences and pain points through our monthly survey insights reports, webinars, and proprietary surveys of builders, architects, designers, and other industry professionals.

Latest Insights

Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI and Large Language Models for Your Business
Dear Consultant: How do we get more inventory so that the housing market has more slack?
Busting Gen Z Myths—What the Housing Industry Needs to Know