Downtown Housing Needs Assessment in Charleston, WV

In January of this year Bowen National Research were hired by the Charleston Area Alliance to conduct a Downtown Housing Needs Assessment in Charleston, West Virginia.  Patrick Bowen, the principal and author of the report, presented the report’s findings last Tuesday (April 21st) at the Charleston Area Alliance “Think Tank” event.  You can read more about the presentation via the link below of the article in the Charleston Gazette.

In addition, Mr. Bowen’s presentation also made television on the local news channels WCHS and WSAZ in Charleston.  You can visit the link below to view the short video.

Regional Housing Needs Assessment for the City of Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville PresentationBowen National Research recently completed a regional housing needs assessment for the city of Asheville, North Carolina that included analyses of the city of Asheville and the four-county region of Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.  The principal, Patrick Bowen, had the opportunity to present the study several times last week to groups of city officials around the Asheville area.

Bowen National Research is an Ohio-based real estate research firm that conducts a variety of real estate studies throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  Notable studies recently completed by the firm include studies of Springfield (Illinois), Morgantown (West Virginia), Nederland (Colorado), Joplin (Missouri), Evansville (Indiana) and a statewide analysis of Vermont.  According to the firm’s President, Patrick Bowen, “Government entities understand the value of the comprehensive housing and retail studies our firm provides and the benefits they offer as a key element to their strategic planning and marketing efforts.  Plus, our clients benefit from our experience of evaluating growing and stagnant markets, small towns to entire states, and even studies focused on neighborhoods or downtowns.”

These types of large-scale reports are very beneficial for city, county and state governments, as well as the private sector, as they illustrate the current and future demographic, economic, and housing trends of the selected area.  These reports are valued as an essential planning tool for our clients and bring to light issues that may have never been discovered otherwise.  This particular report highlights on the overall issue that the city of Asheville is predicted to face: large demographic growth and lack of available housing.  To read more about the report please see the link below of the news article summarizing the study or contact Patrick Bowen at or at 614-833-9300.  You can also visit our website for additional information at


Ohio Statewide Tax Credit Rental Housing Data

OHCoverSince 2011, our firm has been conducting statewide rental housing surveys on Tax Credit properties for various states that we select. Thus far we have surveyed nine different states, which include Georgia (2013), Indiana (2012), Iowa (2012), Kentucky (2013), Ohio (2014 our most recent), Pennsylvania (2012), South Carolina (2012), Tennessee (2013),  and Virginia (2012).  These surveys are all conducted by telephone and include properties that only operate with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (both 4% and 9%).   Some of these projects also operate with a project-based subsidy, such as Section 8 or Rural Development 515, and/or have market-rate units.  While these surveys do not include all Tax Credit rental housing projects, we aim to survey approximately 75% of the published Tax Credit rental housing alternatives in each state, which provides a good representation of the affordable Tax Credit rental housing market conditions in each state surveyed.

            We recently completed a statewide rental housing survey in the state of Ohio that included 815 rental projects comprising 57,072 Tax Credit units.  There were 1,146 vacant Tax Credit units, yielding an overall occupancy rate of 98.0%.  Note that our housing data is segmented between non-subsidized Tax Credit units and Tax Credit units that operate with a concurrent subsidy.  The occupancy rate among the non-subsidized Tax Credit units was 97.1%, while the occupancy rate among Tax Credit/Government-Subsidized units was 99.2%.  The statewide median collected rents for studio up to four-bedroom units range from $323 to $725.  We also derived the median collected rents on a county level as well as the occupancy rates.  To access the full Ohio statewide rental housing survey, including aggregate occupancy and rental data, overall demographic growth trends, low-income household growth trends, general economic data and more, please visit the Research Center on our website.  You can also see the full statewide reports of all nine states our firm has conducted.

            Although we are not hired to conduct these statewide rental housing surveys, we complete these reports for several reasons.  One of those reasons is for our internal use.  It makes our process more efficient when we have this data readily available in our database.  This improves our accuracy and turn around time for site-specific feasibility studies.  Secondly, it expands our coverage areas.  It ultimately adds to our expertise in these markets, specifically, the states we do a vast amount of work in.  Lastly, and most importantly, we can assist our current and future clients to identify markets that are performing well in terms of housing conditions and demographics, and what markets are lacking affordable housing.  With these statewide rental housing surveys we are able to see a quick summary of the entire state’s affordable rental housing market conditions including breakdowns by county levels.  This is valuable information to our clients as it gives great insight into that state’s affordable rental housing market.  Although it is not an in depth analysis, it is a good starting point for developers.

Importance of a Market Feasibility Analysis

Houses with arrows - HM cropped

End users such as developers, syndicators and/or state agencies often hire professional market analysts to conduct a market feasibility analysis (market study) for a proposed development within a particular market.  But what is the need for, or importance of, a market study?  Further, and more importantly, what makes a good market study?

The need for, or importance of, a market study is quite simple.  This analysis is to provide a disinterested third party point of view for a given project based on the project’s competitive position within a particular market, while also determining the demand for the proposed project within that market.  Conversely, the components which make-up a good market study are more complex and can vary greatly depending upon the proposed project type.  However, there are several key components which every market study should include.

First and foremost, a Primary Market Area (PMA) must be established by the analyst, based on the proposed project’s location and project type.  This is the smallest geographic area from which the majority of support for a proposed project is expected to originate.  Accurately defining a project’s market area is crucial to providing an accurate and effective market study.  If an analyst defines a PMA which encompasses too large of an area, it is possible that demand for the proposed project will be overstated, which could result in the development of a project that is too large for a particular market.  Likewise, if an analyst is too conservative and defines a market area that encompasses too small of an area, it is possible that demand will be understated, potentially resulting in the development of a project that is too small and does not meet the needs of the market.  Inaccurately defining a PMA, primarily one that is too large could also result in the identification of inaccurate comparable properties.

Once a PMA has accurately been defined by an analyst, research of market trends should begin.  This includes, but is not limited to, identifying comparable/competitive properties, analyzing demographic and economic trends, conducting interviews with local stakeholders and identifying any comparable projects in the development pipeline within a given market.  The identification of comparable properties along with any comparable projects in the development pipeline is particularly important, as this along with the demographic trends will ultimately determine the type and size of product a particular market could realistically support.  The identification of accurate comparable properties will also help provide guidance in determining the competitive position of a project within a given market in terms of unit and project design, achievable rents and amenities offered.  This is particularly important during the early stages of development, as the identification of accurate comparable properties will ensure the developer does not leave out any key features being offered in a market, or include features that are not desired in a market.  In addition to analyzing the competitive position of a project within a market, it is also important that the impact a proposed project may have on existing comparable properties is considered.  In essence, a strong market will be able to support a new project without adversely impacting future occupancy rates among the existing comparable supply.

As indicated earlier, demographic and economic trends within a given market also play a crucial role in providing an accurate market study.  While overall demographic trends (population and household counts) are important components to a market study, more specific demographic trends should also be analyzed, based on the proposed product type.  For example, if the proposed development will target seniors or a specific special needs population (i.e. homeless, substance abuse, disabled, etc.), analysis of demographic trends within these demographic segments should be conducted, as often trends within such demographic segments differ from overall demographic trends within a market.  Economic trends such as business expansion, new business development and/or business closures/layoffs are also important factors to consider when conducting a market study, as economic growth often times will result in increased housing demand, while large-scale layoffs/closures could potentially result in a significant number of residents relocating to other areas, thus diminishing the need for housing in a given market.

If the market study being conducted is site specific (proposed site already determined), an on-site evaluation of the proposed site is also important, as this will reveal specific site attributes that could potentially impact marketability of a proposed development, both positively and negatively.  These include site accessibility, visibility, proximity to area services and an evaluation of surrounding land uses to determine the overall marketability of a proposed site.

Based on the key components discussed above, a market study should provide valuable insight to the end user in regards to the competitive position of a particular project, and more importantly, the need/demand for a particular project in a given market.  In conclusion, a competitive project is not always needed and a needed project is not always competitive; a good market study should be able to tell the story of what type of product is both needed and competitive within a given market.

Welcome to Bowen National Research’s New Blog!

Welcome to BNR’s new blog! Are you interested in the latest news, trends and up to date knowledge in the real estate industry? If so, you are in the right place! We will be utilizing this space to share real estate information that we have researched, analyzed or discovered in our process of conducting market feasibility studies, housing needs assessments, and various real estate research services. We are a national firm so expect to find real estate news from all over the country on our blog. In addition, if you have a particular interest in any of our blog topics or posts, please let us know if we can help you explore that topic further. We are here to assist in all of your real estate research needs!