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Misery Loves Campaigning: The Housing Misery Index and the 2012 Election

According to Trulia’s Housing Misery Index, next week’s Arizona and Michigan primaries could be the last we hear from candidates on housing until California votes in June.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
February 23, 2012

The housing crisis hurt some states especially hard. In those states, like Florida and Nevada, the Republican presidential candidates couldn’t ignore housing. But in states that weathered the housing crisis better, the candidates won’t spend precious money and attention on housing policy.

To see which states are suffering most, we created a Housing Misery Index. Like the original Misery Index, which adds together unemployment and inflation, our Housing Misery Index takes two important indicators of a state’s housing market and simply adds them together. For every state, we add (1) the percentage change in home prices from the peak until today, from FHFA, and (2) the percent of mortgages either severely delinquent or in foreclosure, from CoreLogic.

Why these two indicators? First, big price drops lead to more underwater borrowers and less household wealth, which hurt the housing market and hold back economic recovery. Second, defaults and foreclosures damage consumer confidence in the housing recovery, and foreclosures cause pain not only for people who lose their homes but also for their neighbors.

States That Are Most Miserable When It Comes To Housing

State Housing Misery Index
Nevada 73
Florida 62
Arizona 55
California 54
Michigan 37
Idaho 35
Rhode Island 34
Georgia 34
Washington state 33
Maryland 32

Note: Index is sum of peak-to-2011Q4 price decline (FHFA) and 2011Q4 delinquency (90+ days) plus foreclosure rate (CoreLogic). Top ten states ranked by the housing misery index are shown.

… continue reading


For The Love Of Real Estate

Ahead of Valentine's Day, Trulia surveyed Americans across the country to see how much real estate and dating choices intertwine.

the Trulia Trends team
February 13, 2012

When it comes to dating, we all have our own kooky preferences for finding that special someone. Whether we’re looking strictly for dog lovers, vegetarians, outdoorsy types or homebodies, everyone has a check-list of “must haves” or “would likes” to screen out the best possible prospects.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we asked ourselves whether a person’s living situation affects their chances of finding love? Are women more attracted to men who own a home? Do men prefer women who rent in the suburbs vs. the city?  We fielded our Love & Housing survey asking more than 2,000 US adults how much they care about a potential partner’s housing preference.  

We found some surprising and some not-so-surprising stats on how today’s singles view dating and real estate.

Trulia Valentine's Day Survey, part 1


Single and living with your parents? It may be time to move out.
It is now officially official that if you call your parents, “roomies,” you probably have a non-existent dating life. According to our survey, only 5% of unmarried U.S. adults would prefer date someone in that living situation.

But parents aside, most unmarried adults (62%) would rather date someone who lives alone versus someone who lives with other people — which makes sense. Living alone means no distractions and more privacy. However, when it comes to location and the type of home, there was definitely a noticeable difference between men and women. More women preferred to date someone who lived in a house in the suburbs and more men preferred dating someone in an apartment in the city. What can we say, guys like the fast-paced city life and girls long for the white picket fence!

Would you, personally, prefer dating someone who lives…?
Total, Unmarried U.S. Adults
Alone 62%
With other people 14%
Other or None 24%


Would you, personally, prefer dating someone who lives…?
Total Unmarried Men Unmarried Women
Alone in a house in the suburbs 33% 29% 37%
Alone in an apartment in the city 29% 32% 25%
With roommates in either the suburbs or the city 9% 14% 9%
With their parents 5% 6% 4%


More men open to shacking up to save money
When you take that big step to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you are ultimately giving up your single life and layin down some commitment. But these days, this move is sometimes less about the solidifying the relationship and more about being economical. In our survey, a whopping 74% of unattached renters (meaning those who don’t own a home and haven’t tied the knot/haven’t made the decision to live together) said they would be at least somewhat willing to live with their significant other to save money. What we found was rather interesting. Men are more likely to be very willing or willing than women (51% vs. 34%) to giving up the bachelor pad to save some money!

Would you be willing to live with a boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other to save money due to the economy?
Total Unmarried Men Unmarried Women
Very Willing 21% 23% 18%
Willing 22% 28% 16%
Somewhat willing 32% 28% 36%
Not at all willing 26% 21% 30%


Homeownership is NOT a deal breaker.
A majority (63%) of unmarried U.S. adults said it didn’t matter whether their significant other owned their own home or rented. That said, there are definitely more than a few picky daters out there who do care. Women in particular are more likely than men to prefer dating a homeowner versus a renter (36% vs. 19%). What can we say, some women really know what they want.

Would prefer dating someone who rents or owns their own home?
Total Unmarried Men Unmarried Women
Owns their own home 28% 19% 36%
Rents their home 2% 2% 2%
It Doesn’t matter to me 63% 72% 54%
Not Sure 7% 6% 8%


Younger daters say homeownership signals commitment
Among unmarried U.S. adults, 43% said homeownership is NOT an indication that someone may be serious about being in a long-term committed relationship, such as marriage. And when we looked at what men and women said separately, there was only a sliver of a difference — 36% of women and 33% of men said owning a home was a signal that someone is ready to settle down.

However, when we took a at the differences in opinions across different generations, 44%  of  millenials (18-34 year olds) felt that homeownership does equal commitment while only 26% of Baby Boomers (55+ year olds) felt the same.

Do you think homeownership indicates that a person may be serious about being in a long-term committed relationship, such as marriage?
Total 18-34 YO 35-44 YO 45-54 YO 55+ YO
Yes 34% 44% 28% 26% 26%
No 43% 35% 50% 54% 47%
Not Sure 22% 21% 21% 21% 26%

What spells love at first sight for first-time homebuyers
We asked all U.S. adults surveyed to select every amentitiy that would make them “fall in love” with a home. For men and women in the market for their first home, both sexes are actually seeing eye to eye on what’s most important — which according to our survey is the master bathroom, followed by a … walk-in closet!? Guess there is a lot more synergy between the sexes than we thought and that men care as much about their shoes and clothes as women do!

Maybe the battle of the sexes on this issue isn’t much of a battle after all.

Love and housing – it’s a tricky little thing :)


Where Are House Hunters Searching? Visualization Preview

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Where Are House Hunters Searching?

More than 1 in 3 home searches cross state lines. Trulia's Metro Movers report reveals where these house hunters are looking to move into and move out of.

the Trulia Trends team
February 2, 2012

About three months ago, the data geniuses at Trulia kick started a never before seen housing report that starts with where people live today and where they want to live tomorrow. We dubbed it the “Metro Movers Report” because it’s a quick-and-dirty analysis of house hunting activity between people living in one metro area and homes located in another.

Well, we’re going to revisit this study today (specifically looking at all the home searches on that happened in the last three months of 2011) and give you the inside scoop on where today’s house hunters are headed tomorrow.

Where’s Everyone Going?
We found that more than 1 in 3 home searches on cross state lines. So if that tells you anything, there’s a notable chunk of people looking to move really far away. Meanwhile, everyone else wants to stay somewhat close to where they live now.

To illustrate what we mean, we built a really cool map that shows you from where people are looking to move in and move out. Using San Francisco as an example, here’s how this maps works.

When you click on San Francisco and on the “Inbound Search” button at the top, San Francisco becomes highlighted in black and the top 10 metros with the most home searches to San Francisco are highlighted in blue. If one of the blue circles is abnormally big (relative to all the other blue circles), that just means there are many more home searches heading into SF from that metro than from others.

As you can see from the map pasted below, San Francisco is quite a draw to a whole slew of house hunters across America, namely from Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Phoenix and Houston.

Meanwhile, if you were to click on New York and on the “Outbound Search” button at the top, you’ll see that New Yorkers looking to get out of New York and its surrounding suburbs prefer to head to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami or West Palm Beach.


Haven’t You Heard, Florida Is The Place To Be
Call us crazy, but there sure has been a lot of buzz about the Sunshine state and housing. Must have had something to do with the latest round of votes between the last two men standing in the race to find a Republican presidential candidate.

Well, it’s not just the Grand Old Party (GOP) that’s interested in Florida. Turns out, a LOT of house hunters have a quite the love affair with the bargain bin homes for sale throughout the state — especially if they live in the Midwest and Northeast. Believe it or not, one-third of all the home searches in Miami on are made by people living far, far away (think 500+ miles away). See for yourself.

But here’s an interesting factoid. Of the top 10 metro areas where there are more homes searches by out-of-towners looking to move in than home searches by locals looking to get out of dodge, 7 are in Florida. That’s right, there are more people looking to move to America’s retirement capital than leave. We kid you not.

Where Demand Among Online House Hunters Is Strongest
# U.S. Metropolitan Area # of Inbound Searches Per Outbound Search
1 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 8.80
2 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 7.60
3 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL 6.62
4 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 2.59
5 Tulsa, OK 2.48
6 West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, FL 2.46
7 Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL 2.44
8 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 2.43
9 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC 2.40
10 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 2.30

NOTE: The inbound-to-outbound ratio for a metro area divides the number of incoming property searches by out-of-towners by the number of outgoing property searches by locals looking to leave. A ratio of 2 means that there are twice as many home searches by people looking to move in than leave.

To check out all the cool trends that we uncovered this time around, click through the slideshow below.

To learn more, here’s the full press release.


Buying the American Dream with Euros Visualization Preview

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Buying the American Dream with Euros

International house hunters have snapped up American homes left and right since the crash – but will Europe’s Financial Crisis put an end to this buying frenzy?

the Trulia Trends team
January 11, 2012

A few weeks ago, we worked with Bloomberg BusinessWeek to put together a list of the priciest homes sold in 2011. Lo and behold, the top three were bought by European billionaires (and their heiress daughters). Just see for your self:

1. Los Altos Hills Mansion
Sales Price:
Buyer: Yuri Milner, Russian tech billionaire

Yuri Milner Los Altos Hills Mansion

(Source: Google Maps image)

2. Central Park Penthouse
Sales Price:
Buyer: Ekaterina Rybolovleva, 22 year old daughter of Russian Billionaire Dmitriy Rybolovlev

Central Park West Penthouse

(Source: Brown Harris Stevens)

3. Spelling Manor
Sales Price:
Buyer: Petra Ecclestone, 22 year old daughter of British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone

Spelling Manor

(Source: Google Maps image)

(HINT: To see more eye candy homes of the rich and famous, check out our sister blog, Trulia Luxe Living)

If you ask us, some people have way too much money to burn ’cause just thinking about the property tax for these homes is giving us heart burn! But honestly, it’s not that surprising. Last year, foreign homebuyers reportedly bought about $41 billion worth of homes on U.S. soil.[1] In fact, some experts have suggested that these buyers will help stabilize America’s housing market (though it will do little to bring about a full recovery).

America as Europe’s Piggy Bank
Now before we pin all our hopes on these international house hunters, we should probably take a closer look at what’s brewing across the pond. As you may have seen in the news, Europe is kind of a hot mess right now. How bad is bad? Well, let’s just say that Reuter’s finance reporter, Felix Salmon, has resorted to using Lego toys to explain what’s happening and why Europe’s financial mess is much worse ours – check out the video pasted below.

As for what really matters, we turned to our Chief Economist Jed Kolko (@jedkolko) for his thoughts on how Europe’s money woes will likely affect the U.S. housing market in 2012. Here’s what he had to say:

“As Europe’s financial crisis turns into a deeper recession, Europeans will spend less on nearly everything, including real estate. But for those Europeans who would still be in a position to invest, U.S. assets — including U.S. real estate — could turn out to be safer investments than European stocks, bonds or property.”

In other words, the financial crisis in Europe might actually encourage people to invest in U.S. real estate; however, it won’t be everyday Joe Shmoes trying buy a piece of the American Dream of homeownership. Instead, it’s going to be men and women of means looking for a safer place to store their money.

More Greeks Looking to Move (Their Money)
When we last looked at what the international house hunting community was up to, we found that most of the interest was coming from our neighbors up north (aka, the Canadians) and that Florida was the crowd favorite.

This time around, we decided to shine a spotlight on Europe in order to answer the billion dollar question – will Euros keep on flowing into the U.S. housing market or has that cash flow been capped?

To find out, we compared all the house hunting activity on that was coming from members of the European Union at the beginning of 2011 with what was happening at the end of the year. (And in case you were wondering, yes – we did our due diligence and normalized the data to make sure we’re looking at a genuine spike in interest). Next, we zeroed in on the top 10 Eurozone countries (aka the ones that use the Euro) that are doing most of the house hunting on and then ranked them based on who had the biggest spike in interest.

Where Interest in U.S. Real Estate Spiked Up or Dropped

# Country 2011 Q1-to-Q4 % Change
1 Greece 17.8%
2 Italy 7.2%
3 Spain 3.1%
4 France -6.2%
5 Germany -12.0%
6 Belgium -14.3%
7 Austria -14.4%
8 Finland -15.7%
9 Ireland -19.5%
10 Netherlands -27.5%

Well, well, well, so what do you know. Greece – which has often been referred to as the “patient zero” of the region’s current debt epidemic – came in first place with a 17.8% spike in interest. While there are probably a multitude of other contributing factors, this simple observation suggests that many of these Greek homebuyers aren’t just looking for a home away from home. Instead, they’re looking to take their money and fly the coop.

Making A Rainbow Connection
Just looking at the most popular U.S. metros being eyeballed by European house hunters will tell you that international cities (Los Angeles, New York and Miami) are on almost everyone’s top 10 lists.

European House Hunters Looking at Los Angeles

European House Hunters Looking at New York City

European House Hunters Looking at Miami

Also, places with a TON of bargain bin homes are just as popular, if not more. Yes, we’re talking about you, FloridaLas Vegas and Phoenix, I mean, just look at the 20 most popular metro areas (as according to Europeans) – 10 of them are in one of these “sales rack” markets!

U.S. Metros Favored By European House Hunters

# U.S. Metros
1 Los Angeles, CA
2 New York, NY
3 Miami, FL
4 San Francisco, CA
5 Orlando, FL
6 Cape Coral, FL
7 Chicago, IL
8 Las Vegas, NV
9 Naples, FL
10 Fort Lauderdale, FL
11 Orange County, CA
12 West Palm Beach, FL
13 San Diego, CA
14 Washington, DC
15 Tampa, FL
16 Lakeland, FL
17 San Antonio, TX
18 Houston, TX
19 Atlanta, GA
20 Phoenix, AZ

As for some of the other notable notables:

—–House hunters from the tiny island country of Cyprus have a thing for Michigan. Detroit, Warren and Kalamazoo made it on their top 10 list. Who knows, maybe Cypriots are just trying to find a home for sale on America’s only floating zip code (though highly unlikely as 48222 is just a 45-foot boat….now why does a boat have a zip code, you ask? Well, why not? What do you have against boats?!)

—–Austrians seem to be following in the footsteps of their former compatriot (us Californians know him as our ex-Governator, Arnold Schwartzenegger). Several Southern California cities made it on their top list, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Riverside.

—–The Finns and Swedes – who live the furthest up north on the European continent – must be really be sick of the cold weather up there because they sure seem to love the homes in Florida. In addition to Miami, Cape Coral, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Naples and West Palm Beach also made it onto their top 10 lists.

[1] National Association of Realtors, April 2011


Grass is Greener When You’re Growing Fast Visualization Preview

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Grass is Greener When You’re Growing Fast

From zero to 27+ million online house hunters each month — what can we say, people love our inside scoop on real estate!

the Trulia Trends team
January 5, 2012

We’re super excited about 2012 and to help ring in the New Year, the Trulia Insights team decided to get a little fancy and do a proper send off to 2011 by looking back at how much we’ve grown (literally) with another awesome infographic.

All in all, more than 27 million online house hunters each month use Trulia in their search for a new home – which is nuts ‘cause that doesn’t even count the 6+ million mobile house hunters who make up about 27% of our weekend traffic.

So Hit The Lights, Uh, Oh, Oh!
Since we opened Trulia’s doors to house hunters 6+ years ago, we’ve had a TON of visitors (which is awesome), but what’s even more tru-li-a-mazing  is that you all keep coming back (we love you too!).

Just look at how you all have lit up our world over the years!

Trulia's Website Growth Over Time

When we kicked off this little New Year’s project, we started by mapping out where house hunters did the most of their window shopping over the years. Each light (er…white dot) represents a zip code where a house for sale was looked at by a prospective buyer. To call out the obvious, big cities shined the brightest which means they got the popular vote. This makes sense since there are a lot more homes to buy in bigger metro areas and most people aren’t really looking to live the simple life in the middle of nowhere.

Where the Green Grass Grows Tallest
Now for all you design/data geeks out there, you’re probably thinking to yourself – “oh how original, a city lights map,” while rolling your eyes. Well, to all you naysayers, please. We’re not too keen on being copycats.

Rather than just illustrating each property view as a single dot that gets lit up when a home gets checked out in a zip code, we’re adding another layer of detail – popularity.

So here’s what we’re looking at (and no, it’s not America as a poorly kept lawn). Each blade of grass…er…spike…represents a zip code where a house for sale was looked at. The taller the blade, the higher that area ranks on the popularity scale.

Trulia's Website Traffic in 2011

Call us crazy, but today’s house hunters must really be influenced by the glamorous lives of the rich and famous. The places that got the most eye balls looking for homes in 2011 were LA LA Land (Los Angeles, CA), the beaches of Florida and the pricey parts of New Jersey.

Most Popular Zip Codes of 2011

# Zip Code City/State
1 90210 Beverly Hills, CA
2 90265 Malibu, CA
3 07030 Hoboken, NJ
4 92592 Temecula, CA
5 34145 Marco Island, FL
6 33914 Cape Coral, FL
7 32137 Palm Coast, FL
8 90068 Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, CA
9 34953 Port St. Lucie, FL
10 90077 Bel Air in Los Angeles, CA
11 32164 Palm Coast, FL
12 60657 Chicago, IL
13 90069 Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, CA
14 08226 Ocean City, NJ
15 10023 Upper West Side in New York, NY
16 92264 Palm Springs, CA
17 11209 Brooklyn, NY
18 34135 Bonita Springs, FL
19 08540 Princeton, NJ
20 34293 Venice, FL

Looking at this list, here are a few interesting things to point out:

— 90210 – probably the most famous zip code in the world thanks to Aaron Spelling’s popular 90s teen drama – was at the top of the list. Must mean that there are a lot of fans looking at LA for their next move who couldn’t resist checking out what Beverly Hills has to offer.

— As far as Florida is concerned, the central east and west coast are more popular than the north (sorry, Jacksonville), the south (tough love, Miami) and the  state center (seriously, no one wants to live in Disneyworld…err, Orlando?).

— The windy city of Chicago was the only Mid-West city to make our top 20 list. Must have something to do with the snow and slow migration of Chicagoans to the Sunbelt States of Arizona and Florida.

— Several Jersey cities made it on our list – and looking at where these cities are located, I’d say house hunters are trying to be part of the Real Housewives of New Jersey community (hello, Hoboken) or trying to hang with the cast of the Jersey Shore (hey there, Ocean City – holla!).

So that just about sums up Trulia circa 2006 through 2011 – only time will tell what 2012 has in store for us.