URBEK Backstory

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was created in 1968, and included the Federal Housing Administration, FHA. FHA was created in the 1930’s and had a long history of providing market analysis services to the FHA Field Offices. FHA central office in Washington, D.C. had a formal two-year training program in market analysis. I was part of the 1968 class of about 10 individuals in that program.

At FHA, market analysis complimented the appraisal process. It was not a substitute for an appraisal. For a particular market, the objective was: visit the market, see the site, establish a reasonable primary market area definition, and identify potential competitors. The narrative might conclude that the market is over-built in specific product types.

There were a small number of HUD Field Economists. In 1973, I accepted a position as one of the field economists in Seattle. I soon learned there was a private sector interest in market analysis. In 1980, I left HUD, and established a business called URBEK, short for urban economics. I have a registered service mark on the name URBEK.

Early in my business, I did substantial work in Florida. Delta airlines had a non-stop flight from Seattle to Atlanta, and from Atlanta I could fly to any major market in Florida. Nearly all my early work was in Florida. I also had the good fortune to do market analysis for a not-for-profit organization in Oregon. I then learned that not for profit does not mean “losing money”! The Oregon work led me to a Michigan-based not-for-profit group that had properties nation-wide.

URBEK market studies quickly found their way to private sector lenders – further expanding the business. Brian Halbert began collaborating with URBEK in 2014.

Today, each URBEK market study is tailored to client needs.



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