Triangle Construction’s Good News

Housing ConstructionHousing and construction has been in the news a lot over the past few days.  And this news has been positive.

The news substantiates discussions I have been having with those I know in the construction industry, both residential and commercial, that construction is on the upswing.  Now, I am not saying it is on the late 1990’s, early 2000’s upswing.  But then again, look at what ended up happening.

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Homebuilding In The News

House Under ConstructionIt’s been a while since I wrote a blog about the home building and residential real estate. It has been three months since I even mentioned the industry in this blog and over seven months since I talked about the economic conditions of the market, locally or nationally.

Although it has been some time, I have not been ignoring the market. I have recently had discussion with those employed by builders, big and small, as well as a investor interested in a local large project. Also, over the past 10 days, I have seen a number of articles and news stories about the industry. So, I figured I let you all know about some of the news and provide an overview.

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Oops, we did it again!

No, I am not a Brittany Spears fan, but I think Raleigh is trying to emulate her chart topping song.

Downtown RaleighThe Raleigh-Cary area is consistently getting top rankings in it seems every ranking by every newspaper, magazine, or study. This week is no different. In an ABC news story, the Raleigh-Cary area ranked #3 for the Most Optimistic US Metro Area.

For the past 20 months, the Raleigh area has been at or near the top of 114 list, including 10 so far this year. The types of lists ranges from quality of life to residential market quality to various employment clusters to being one of the top funniest cities.

I moved here in August 2003 from southern California. I had the same reaction that most people do when they move here, “Look at all the trees!”. But after that I got to experience the Triangle and all the great things about it. This is more so now. With such things going on, such as the great entrepreneurial and start-up cultures in both downtown Raleigh and downtown Durham, the increase attention from national studies and publications, and continuous strong presence of NC State, Duke, and UNC academically and athletically, the Triangle will continue to become a major player for new businesses and growth that would make larger cities jealous.

What is your favorite thing about living and working in the Triangle?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

Economic, Construction, and Real Estate News

We have had a lot of economic, construction and real estate related news in the past few days.  Instead of looking at just one of them in a vacuum, I am going to highlight many of them.

    • Nationally, consumer sentiment rose to 70.8 in February from 61.5 in January, achieving a sizable improvement. Consumers’ expectations rose to 88.0 from 76.7, while their views on current conditions increased to 45.0 from 38.8.  See the full story here.
    • Whouse constructionarren Buffett says along with equities, single-family homes are a very attractive investment right now, based on a CNBC interview.  He believes that the market is getting back into a situation that if the homes are held for a long period of time and purchased at low rates, the houses are even better than stocks.
    • An article in the Triangle Business Journal states that economic activity appears to be picking up across North Carolina, with fewer people filing first-time claims for state jobless benefits and forecasters predicting a bounce in new housing starts by 2013.

There have been a number of stories in the past several days about the local construction and real estate industries.  Some of it was good and some of it was not.

  • One of the negative stories was the report on the change of the Triangle’s construction industry employment figures.  I feel like we all logically knew this.  However, the numbers show that the Triangle peaked in December 2007 when payrolls were hitting 40,400. Then came the contraction.  By December 2011, according to Virginia-based Associated General Contractors of America, Triangle payrolls had dropped 30 percent to 35,300.  (Check out the full article here).
  • California-based commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis filed for bankruptcy.  Grubb & Ellis does have an affiliate in the Triangle.  It appears that Grubb & Ellis will be bought by New York-based BCG Partners Inc. as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.  There is no news of how this will affect the local affiliate.
  • The residential market update for 2011 from Birch Appraisal Group was released showing 2011 average prices and percent to assessed value by jurisdiction for Wake County.  Cary had the highest average price and Apex had the highest percentage.  Garner came in with the lowest in both categories.
  • Preston Development looking at 7,108 acres for Chatham Park, a masterplanned community that mixes the golf course and executive homes of Prestonwood and business hubs of Research Triangle Park.  The idea is to essentially develop a RTP 2.0.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

What I Learned At AnalyticsCamp NC 2012

AnalyticsCampI had the fortunate experience last weekend to attend AnalyticsCamp 2012.  Now I can hear you saying, “What the heck is that and why should I care?”

[If you are starting to wonder what analytics is, here is something I pulled from Wikipedia.  It is described there as it is the application of computer technology, operational research, and statistics to solve problems in business and industry. Analytics has evolved with the application of computers to the analysis of data and this takes place within an information system or software environment.]

Here is what their website states it is:

AnalyticsCamp is the unconference for analytics. Whatever flavor of analytics you work with—web, email, social media, marketing, big enterprise BI, you name it—this is the place to meet and learn from interesting people in the field.

It’s a Barcamp-style unconference, and anyone can pitch a session. Sessions include technical, business and career topics, from beginner to advanced levels, so everyone is sure to learn something.

Now the why you should care is even better.  Because I learned some cool new stuff and I get to share it with you.

analyticsIn the first session I went to, I saw Martin Smith, Director of Marketing at Atlantic BT, discussing branding keywords into your online presence.  The discussion involved a number of topics including taking a logical approach to developing your website in relation to data analytics.  You just cannot look at the data.  Also don’t just market to only demographic and psychographics. You need to understand the pains & personas of your audience.  Lastly, Google Analytics likes “more & more, better & better, faster & faster”.

For the second session, Dean Peters of McClatchy Interactive discussed “Google Analytics API to create a Most Popular Pages Widget”.  There were a number of takeaways, especially if you are into code writing.  My biggest takeaway, is that the “Most Popular Stories” that many like on news oriented websites can be easily done on WordPress sites, which is the basis of about 15% of all the world’s websites.

In Ask a “Social Media Analyst”, Vimal Patel, of Argyle Social, and Ryan Sweeney, of Ignite Social Media, had a great discussion of analytics with Facebook business pages and the Argyle Social Platform.

The last session I went to was an excellent open group discussion on “Comparing Web Analytics Tools”.  There was a lot of discussion between paper.li versus scoop.it for curation sites.  Another topic was the use of HootSuite, TweetDeck and Argyle for managing and analyzing multiple social platforms.

In conclusion, it was a Saturday full of coffee, networking, and analytics.  There was a lot of information that I absorbed.  There was a lot more that I know I missed because of the sessions I missed.  I would highly recommend the event next year and I am excited about how I can use analytics on a regular basis.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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