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ASU Adds Subscription Fee To Upgraded Housing Research

Metro Phoenix is one of the most erratic housing markets in the country, and research by Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business has long been a cornerstone of information and analysis.

On Wednesday, that research got a big enhancement when ASU rolled out some new features on its website. In addition to the written monthly reports, the website also includes graphs and charts that allows users to customize data such as foreclosures, home sales and prices down to the ZIP code level.

“A written report, while it might be quite interesting, it doesn’t really answer most people’s questions about what’s going on in their particular area or in a particular segment of the market they’re interested,” said Michael Orr, director of the business school's Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice and the one who produces all the monthly housing research.

But to get access to any of ASU's housing research, users will now need their credit cards. As part of the Wednesday roll-out, access to everything now costs $360 for an annual subscription or $45 for one month. Previously, the monthly reports could be downloaded for free.

Because ASU is a taxpayer-backed entity, many things are a matter of public record. But Dan Barr, a First Amendment attorney with Perkins Coie LLP in Phoenix, said things such as housing research are exceptions essentially because ASU isn't compelled to produce them by law.

“I guess I would look at this as they charge, they make programs for football games and they charge for them," Barr said. "I mean I’m sure they create all sorts of other publications and they charge for them. So I would view this no differently than that as a matter of law.”

While the price may be steep, the revenue the expanded research will generate will go back into funding the software behind the graphs and charts, which Orr said he will continually be improving and expanding. Of course, that creates even more work for Orr, who runs the real estate center and conducts all the research by himself, so the revenue will also help pay for another staff member.

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Kristena Hansen covered commercial and residential real estate for the Phoenix Business Journal for the past two years, which involved a range of topics from housing trends, publicly traded home builders and real estate investment trusts (REITs), and commercial development.