Matthew Fienup and Dan Hamilton of Calfornia Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, or CERF, won the Zillow Crystal Ball Award for most accurate forecasts of home price expectations – the third consecutive year they have won the award.
CERF, which also produces economic forecasts for San Fernando and Ventura County, was up against about 100 other forecasting organizations in the United States for the award.
Fienup, CERF’s executive director, said that the past few years have been a challenging time to be a forecaster considering the consistent uncertainty that has riddled the U.S. economy.
“At CERF, our goal has always been to provide objective, clear-eyed forecasts that reflect what economic theory and state-of-the-art forecasting tools reveal,” Fienup said. “In this effort, we see our role as one of calling balls and strikes, rather than advocating for a preferred outcome.”
The Thousand Oaks-based forecasters employ a range of forecasting tools and macroeconomic theory in their efforts. They said that economic theory has had a lot to say about how recent years have played out.
“In the case of our home price forecast, we see a story that has been dominated by a dramatic lack of supply and, recently, by investment dollars reaching for yield as a result of monetary policy,” Fienup said. “We see these as primary drivers of the dramatic home price appreciation of recent years.
Fienup and Hamilton credited the support of their advisory board and forecast sponsors for helping them maintain focus on their work, “rather than validating whatever policy prescription was fashionable at the moment,” according to Fienup.