Artificial Intelligence Now: RE Roundup

Automation can contribute to the replacement of people on the job. At minimum, it shifts work roles and assignments. Industrial and technological changes have transformed work and the economy. Beyond programmatic automation, however, are vast possibilities for the application of artificial intelligence (AI), including within real estate.

AI is getting its fair share of PR. Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk spoke of unregulated artificial intelligence at the National Governors Association summer 2017 meeting as the, "biggest risk that we face as a civilization." That superlative puts people on edge when talking about the future and economic displacement. And yet, connections to AI are already present.

In simplistic terms, what is AI?

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Flooding, NFIP, and the Future

Insuring against risks inherent with real estate is a practical and ambitious undertaking. When it comes to enormous disasters, floods are perils with tremendous consequences. In 1968, after decades of calls for federal support with regard to flood losses and rising disaster relief costs, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was enacted by the U.S. Congress. The NFIP, among other things, subsidizes flood insurance.

Nearly fifty years later, what is the financial condition of the NFIP?

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Magazine for Real Estate Investing

Readers with a passion for wealth creation derived from investment properties have a focused resource in the periodical space.  Think Realty: The Magazine for Real Estate Investors® delivers “actionable ideas and money saving advice” six times per year.  First-time investors and experienced professionals can tap into content that speaks to issues faced in the dynamically rewarding industry niche of real estate investments.  Think Realty Magazine is published by Affinity Real Estate Media LLC.  Also check out  

- June 2016

Blooms of Wisdom in Spring RE Guide from Money

Money published its annual "Real Estate Guide" in the May 2016 issue.  The focus is on four consumer types, specifically those Starting Out, Trading Up, Downsizing, or Staying Put.  Money’s guide suggests best moves or ideas for owners, sellers, and buyers, depending on where they slot themselves in the shopping hierarchy this season.  In a companion article on the debt side of the equation, Ian Salisbury covers "5 Ways Borrowing for a Home is Getting Easier." 

- April 2016

Comparing the Housing Websites

Which are the housing websites matching your needs?  Consumer Reports® magazine shares pros and cons of popular housing websites with "Go House Hunting, Virtually" in its March 2016 issue. They look at four sites --, Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin -- and chart their geographic coverage, app status, frequency of data updates, and unique features.  

- February 2016

Preparing Buyers

Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate: Your No-Stress Guide to Buying a Home
by Egypt Sherrod. 2015. Running Press, Philadelphia. 224 pp.

Navigating the process of buying a home can prove difficult. What if there was a book written in a relaxed style by a credible professional, who gathers the most important steps to know in the process for you? Now in her second decade of representing clients in the buying and selling of real estate, Egypt Sherrod concentrates her knowledge in Keep Calm…It’s Just Real Estate to save readers time, money, and a few headaches when they’re buying a home.

With Keep Calm, Sherrod emphasizes

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Speaking of Zillow

Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate
by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries. Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. New York and Boston. 2015, Zillow, Inc.

Over the past decade, the company Zillow and its eponymous website expanded across the real estate scene, augmenting and facilitating the ages-old systemic marketing of homes for sale and rent. With their book, Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate, CEO Spencer Rascoff and Chief Economist Stan Humphries encapsulate the company’s philosophy of bringing elements of transparency to residential information.

Early in Zillow Talk, the co-authors reflect on

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Chasing Payoffs of Net Zero

Interested in the next hurdles of net zero living?  Leap into the pages of Fast Company magazine with "This Home Makes All Its Own Energy."  Editor-at-large Jon Gertner writes about the NIST test house, known as the Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility situated in Maryland.  The article contains advances in net-zero technology studied at the prototype.  Refreshingly, like necessary ventilation, Gertner doesn’t shy away from the affordability question, and how construction cost realities are influencing scientists’ expectations about building zero net energy houses.

- November 2014

Infrastructure Intertwined with Real Estate

Fixing roads and bridges has become a familiar refrain. Infrastructure in the U.S. gets described as aging, inadequate, and in need of substantial repair. The condition of the nation’s infrastructure does not earn a seal of approval from the American Society of Civil Engineers — it receives a failing grade. Prior to rushing forward, with shovels ready, might there be new approaches to fix tomorrow’s roll out of infrastructure?

Yes, says Orion, taking cues from

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Equity Crowdfunding for Real Estate

For those who like getting creative with capital, there is a new potter’s wheel to spin: equity crowdfunding.  One aspect of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups or JOBS Act of 2012, in part, attempts to ease securities regulations for capital formation through crowdfunding.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the duty of issuing rules and regulations around crowdfunding, which will impact real estate finance and investment. But until the SEC rolls out the roadmap probably in 2014, and takes into account the masses of non-accredited investors, where can developers and investors begin to turn for an introduction to crowdfunding for real estate?  Start with these:

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Scholarships for Real Estate Studies

Preparing to pay for college is paramount for success.  Be sure to research available financial assistance.  The Pension Real Estate Association offers scholarship opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels for real estate education.  For students considering retail real estate as a career path, there are a variety of awards and scholarships from the ICSC Foundation.  Students who are pursuing the commercial real estate industry should also check out the SIOR Foundation.

- April 2013

Housing Recovery At The Newsstand

Looking for admirable optimism on the cusp of frost-tinged mornings, spring break, and baseball's opening day?  Money is out with their "Real Estate Guide 2013" in the April issue.  The material gives an account of housing prices, buyer and seller points-of-view for today's conditions, renovation versus trade up, and homeowners insurance headscratchers.  In large part, the guide signals a revival after a protracted economic recession and its effects on local markets; and draws a distinction about the two types of markets behind an upsurge in residential prices.

Money also taps key online housing resources that stand out for dashboard readers:

* Foreclosure Rate Heat Map from for foreclosure filings expressed as a ratio.

* Housing Barometer from charts normalcy as a basis for comparison among three housing market indicators.

* Zillow Digs, new from from, for renovation project estimates. 

- March 2013

Notable Mention: The Buzz Around REITs

Investing in REITs
by Ralph L. Block. 4th Edition. 2012. Wiley, Hoboken, N.J. 432 pp.

For readers intrigued with the whole idea of REITs, a step further into awareness of the investment vehicle, its compliance requirements, and its management is warranted. With his fourth edition of Investing in REITs, author Ralph L. Block’s encyclopedic work impresses in content and appearance, yet with a tone both folksy and sophisticated, giving it broad appeal.

The first REITs were

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Notable Mention: Educating Oneself about Home Inspections

The Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller by Restovate Ltd. 2012. Time Home Entertainment, Inc., New York. 108 pp.

The word inspection can conjure the assumption there is a thoroughness taking place. With the The Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller, Mike Holmes contends the incidence of unexpected problems arising after closing on the purchase of inspected homes is unreasonable. “The time to find problems is during a home inspection,” Holmes says, “but, way too often, that’s not happening.”

Holmes presents ten clear reasons why the home inspection process does not always serve

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Methodologies for CRE

Financial and Investment Analysis for Commercial Real Estate
by Joseph L. Petrole, CCIM, MAI. 2007. Dearborn Financial Publishing, Chicago. 179 pp.

Expertly written, Financial and Investment Analysis for Commercial Real Estate is the go-to source for understanding: analysis of income and expenses; valuation of property; financing its acquisition with components of debt and equity; and measuring investment performance. The author is Joseph L. Petrole, CCIM and MAI—for readers unfamiliar with the acronyms, that’s Certified Commercial Investment Member issued by the CCIM Institute; and Member of the Appraisal Institute.

Each of the four chapters begins with

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Notable Mention: Laying Groundwork in Market Analysis

Handbook for Real Estate Market Analysis
by John M. Clapp. 1987. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 264 pp.

Noteworthy events in 1987? On January 8, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 2,000 for the first time. Later, on October 19, "Black Monday" saw stock markets crash around the world. How about those apples for bookends?

A fine set of bookends deserves a fine academic text in between. In 1987, Prentice-Hall published the Handbook for Real Estate Market Analysis by Dr. John M. Clapp. An award-winning author,

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Notable Mention: Explore Careers in Real Estate

The Inside Track to Careers in Real Estate
by Stan Ross and James Carberry.  2006.  Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C.  182 pp.

For persons considering career reinvention, read The Inside Track to Careers in Real Estate.  Author Stan Ross, Chairman of the Board of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and Distinguished Fellow--along with contributing author James Carberry, and with publisher the Urban Land Institute--assembled the most current and comprehensive overview of "private sector real estate career paths."  The authors cover information about university programs, specific lines of work, companies, jobs, compensation ranges, and career profiles of numerous professionals in the field who contributed to the Careers book. 

- December 2011

Hammering Home

A Carpenter’s Life as Told by Houses
by Larry Haun. 2011. The Taunton Press, Newtown, CT. 264 pp.

With A Carpenter’s Life as Told by Houses, the versatile builder Larry Haun writes of Americana, hardscrabble and all. He does this with an accessible narrative for non-carpenters, and occasional still photography for accent, some from his home life and others from job sites.

Haun authored several articles and books, bringing vibrancy and historical authenticity to the discourse on built and natural environments over the arc of his career. Readers familiar with

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The Not-So-Simple Easy Living

Condo Living: A Survival Guide to Buying, Owning and Selling a Condominium
by Robert M. Meisner, Esq. 2005. Momentum Books, L.L.C., Troy, MI. 178 pp.

Flashcard: Condominium living will not suit everyone.

With Condo Living: A Survival Guide to Buying, Owning and Selling a Condominium, attorney and author Robert M. Meisner built a compelling read that serves as the “standard text” he strived for: to inform people what it is like to live in a condominium. His plain-spoken delivery with

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Demolition's Thoughtful Cousin

Unbuilding: Salvaging the Architectural Treasures of Unwanted Houses
by Bob Falk and Brad Guy. 2007. The Taunton Press, Newtown, CT. 248 pp.

Sometimes things have to go. Starting over fascinates people. Perhaps the uptick in media attention to demolition these days is attributable to teardown economics in the Northeast and boom cities, and right-sizing and re-sizing strategies in the Rust Belt and New Orleans. Whatever the case, in real estate, something gets removed so that something else can take its place, even if that something else is

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