Ingo Winzer is the founder of Local Market Monitor, a Vertical IQ product, which provides timely real estate assessments and forecasts of more than 300 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), 2,000 counties, and 20,000 ZIP codes across America. He’s been analyzing and forecasting real estate markets for more than 30 years and graduated from MIT with an MBA from Boston University. He resides in western Massachusetts.

My analytical work for a mortgage insurance company 30 years ago convinced me that the local economic conditions that prevail when a consumer buys a house have a large effect on the future value of the house, and therefore on the risk of mortgage default.

I discovered a way to measure that risk and concluded that this information would be useful to a lot of companies involved with real estate and mortgages.

That’s why, in 1989, I started Local Market Monitor, which presented economic data for 100 local markets through easily understood charts rather than mind-numbing tables of numbers, along with a short commentary. The product was a printed booklet, one page for each local market, containing only the information I considered relevant.

Although I thought my insight about risk was the most important feature of the product, it turned out that the clear presentation of the local economic situation was most important to my customers, who were mainly home builders and mortgage companies looking for markets in which to expand. The subscribers to my service were most often the CEOs of these companies – who, I assume, used the easy comparison of markets and the national coverage to prompt further research from their staff.

I was fortunate that the economic agencies of the government were, at that time, among the first to make large amounts of data available free online; and that inexpensive data and graphics packages (first Harvard Graphics, later Excel) enabled me to create my product single-handedly, ready to be printed and bound.

The product itself was my only marketing tool, along with membership directories of various industry organizations. I simply mailed a copy of the latest version to the CEOs of companies that might be interested. I think the product was successful because it was simple and there was no competition – at least not at the $889 price I was charging.

Eventually, I created a website and moved the product online, which enabled me to add features – although I was careful to keep the product simple and focused.

The risk assessment feature of my product showed a growing – and alarming – increase in risk in many local markets from 2005 to 2007, which put me in the news but didn’t allow me to forecast exactly when a correction would come or how deep it would be. This prompted me to explore the possibility of forecasting home prices (and eventually rents), which is now one of the main parts of the product.

The 2008 recession and real estate crash put a lot of my customers out of business and also changed the market for analytical products like mine. Regulators now required banks to receive formal economic advice (or at least, products they can display, even if they don’t understand them) from national companies. The mortgage industry consolidated around big banks. The home building industry disappeared for a while. And risk analysis became a big business for big companies.

There is still room for quality economic analysis – and especially for home price forecasting from companies like Local Market Monitor – but the marketing challenges are much greater. That’s why becoming part of a larger organization in a similar field, like Vertical IQ, makes a lot of sense. I’m excited to be a part of the team to help provide customers with deeper, more granular data at the local level and better showcase the local conditions that drive success for a particular industry.

>> Learn more about Vertical IQ’s acquisition of Local Market Monitor

Image credits: Entrepreneur, Local Market Monitor

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