The housing market is a complex web. Its strands stretch across the nation, a fabric woven from the thousands of transactions that happen every day. It can be easy to get caught up in it, to lose all sense of direction, to get stuck.
But Andrew Turley knows how to find his way forward.
To understand the market – really understand it – he pulls on each of these threads. From his office in Phoenix, Arizona, Andrew spends his days untangling these data points from each other, revealing key market insights others often miss.
“I’m always gearing up, using better data. We’re not playing around.”
For the last 15 years, Andrew has been determined to unlock the information that guides the market in Maricopa County. Pitch him a simple question about the area’s health and, instinctively, he rattles off the current trends and stats like they’re common knowledge.
Mixed-use projects? They’re going up.
The homes themselves? A smaller footprint. But at the same time, enjoying better design, with energy efficient construction, bigger floor plans, and more natural light.
There’s been more change in the last two years than in the 10-year period before them.
“Style is accelerating,” reveals Andrew. “We’ve noticed the predominant interior design is changing much faster than it used to. And thanks to pop culture, our country’s obsessed with real estate.”
Over the years, Andrew has earned a reputation for producing extremely thorough and accurate assessments, leading him being highly sought after for his expertise. He has be asked to manage a national fraud and loss mitigation review project, provide expert legal testimony and appraise some of the most valued residential properties in Arizona.
Needless to say, if the country has a fascination with real estate, it is imbued in Andrew as well.
Before becoming an appraiser, he was drawn to understanding the human mind. A freshman at Arizona State University, Andrew enrolled as a psychology major. The program’s website boasts it is one of the top of its kind in the country, where students, “gain insight about themselves and others while learning about research methods, conducting scientific inquiries, and building critical thinking skills.”
Your view will forever be transformed, promises ASU. And Andrew’s was, albeit in a slightly unexpected way.
“I wasn’t interested in psychology to help people get over their fear of flying, but rather, how do the bulk of people interact?” he recalls thinking during his college days. “What are the motivations behind people’s choices? What do they value, and how can you test for that?”
As questions of behavior were ricocheting across young Andrew’s mind, his appreciation for real estate continued to grow. Not wanting to go into practicing or teaching, the question inevitably came up: could he combine his interest in people with his passion for real estate, and make that into a career?
Andrew tugged at the thread, wondering where it would lead him. Eventually, he found the answer: appraising.
In appraising, Andrew discovered a profession that not only let him work on a flexible schedule, but one that encouraged him to blend his analytical mindset with his curiosity for the human condition.
He is part of a new generation of appraisers, one that is turning the ubiquity of the digital age into a competitive advantage. As an appraiser, Andrew has a single overarching goal: to produce and share accurate industry information. It’s a part of the job he takes seriously, especially following the market crash of 2008.
To bolster his reports, Andrew is constantly seeking out new information that can help tell the story of the market in a more detailed and precise way. In addition to his own work, he also subscribes to a number of services that help him stay on top of the latest trends.
“As more people are interested in real estate, that raises the bar for appraisers to meet when customers want to buy a new house or remodel,” said Andrew.
One of those services is The Cromford Report, a daily digest operated by Mike Orr, the director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. For years, Mike has been tracking the trends and history of the residential resale market in the Greater Phoenix region, and giving appraisers like Andrew a boost.
“Every one of my reports includes metrics from him,” said Andrew. “He puts together reports that segment 30 different metrics per zip code. It’s incredible!”
Other resources he’s used in the past include The Data Quick News, along with US Census Bureau data. After pulling together all of these intel, Andrew applies his own segmentation and analysis of the market.
“For me, the question is always: how can I better mine the data? What software can I use? You can either stay the course, or take your time with analysis and submit a better quality report.”
But market statistics will only reveal part of the picture. In addition to the data, he also maintains a robust network of contacts: clients, homeowners, agents and other appraisers. Together, they fill in the gaps.
“That’s why having a good network of agents is so important. You have to build those relationships,” said Andrew. “They’re privy to information that you would never find elsewhere. They’ll point you to what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Blending the two worlds together, the digital and the personal, reveals a more complete picture.
“You still have to get anecdotal information. I’ll talk to homeowners. I’ll call the agents and ask, ‘What are you seeing in the market? Are your clients sensing the same sort of info?’ More often than not, together that data will lead you in the right way,” he added.
Thanks to his dedication and hard work, Andrew has been awarded the Extraordinary Appraiser distinction by Solidifi, recognizing his outstanding performance, customer service, and commitment to quality.
“It’s pretty damn rewarding,” exclaimed Andrew recalling when he first learned he’d received the award. “As an appraiser, it can sometimes feel like we’re lone wolves, grinding it out. When you find a client who understands why you’re different and what makes you exceptional, there’s no monetary bonus that can equate that.”
For those appraisers who continue to push themselves to reach the same extraordinary level, Andrew offers this advice.
“No one was born with the Crown of Knowledge. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. You’ve got to push yourself and be open to change. Try new software to offset manual labour, meet up with local appraisers, grow your network. The only reason I got to where I am is because I got kicked by better appraisers in the effort to get better.”
As far as he’s come, Andrew knows there’s still much to be done if he’s going to continue doing his part in the industry, providing the best possible reports. That means sifting through more information, meeting with more clients, and unravelling more threads.
“The conundrum with appraising: we’re always looking at the past, not the future. I would love to see more forecasting in the industry, but to do that you’ve got to dig deeper into the data,” said Andrew.
“What’s the point of always looking backward?”