Forecasting in an Age of Uncertainty

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” (c) John Kenneth Galbraith, noted writer and economist

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with the Dallas Fort Worth Real Estate Research Forum and presenting some thoughts on being a real estate forecasting practitioner. In some ways, it’s a lot like being a weatherman in the middle of storm where everyone knows it’s raining and all you can talk about is how long it’s going to come down. In some sense, whether you’re concerned about Basel III or the change in cap rates on apartments or other property sectors, the sense and mood of the industry is changing. The DFWRERF is a great group of very thoughtful and knowledgeable people who are focused on getting it right, every day. In some sense, it means taking data that is sometimes counter-intuitive and making more sense out of the outliers in the data than the trend itself. I came away from the meeting with a sense of feeling so pleased to have had a chance to meet such a great group and I can only hope to see them again soon.

One of the joys of being in Dallas is to look at some of the properties in the area. Dallas has turned out to be a great indicator of what the most current thinking is in design, operations and leasing. Between the various districts and some of the newer infill properties, Dallas represents to me, as a real estate research practitioner the trends that shape how the multifamily industry is adapting to market conditions. Some of the design in other cities is remarkable too, and I’ll be sharing more about that later.

I think from an apartment development perspective, Dallas has a traffic problem in that the main transportation corridors haven’t kept pace with the needs of a rapidly growing city. Contrasted against many other metropolitan areas, Dallas developments seem to blend well in a mix of transportation oriented rental buildings and desirable higher density areas. District for district, the rest of the country could learn a lot here.

I’m not going to complain about the heat or the traffic because I enjoyed the energy of the city so much and the attitude of people there. Being outside of the beltway in DC, it’s refreshing how positive things can look without the pall created by Congress. Maybe that’s why Dallas is growing so fast, and ultimately will have an amazing future.

Jack Kern is the research editor of Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive magazines and a frequent forecaster of real estate trends and data. Please visit the research section of our website to see more about the markets. Jack can be reached at