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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.



Staycations in the Sun or Snow

Although it's been a pretty warm winter, Trulia dug through its data to figure out where house hunters can find relatively cheap vacation homes near the beach or on the slopes.

the Trulia Trends team
January 31, 2012

When it comes to winter vacations, you’ve got two options. Head up to the mountains for an adventure on the slopes or down to the coast for day at the beach. Most people book a hotel and call it a day, but for hardcore winter vacation goers, nothing less than a destination vacay home will do. Kinda gives a new meaning to the term “staycation” (aka staying home as a vacation), doesn’t it? Heh.

Here at Trulia, we’re all about helping you find your very best place to live. If that means where you live on the weekends while on vacation, we’ve got your back there too. To start off, we looked up zip codes that are practically next door to popular ski resorts or beaches. We then compared these zip codes by the median home prices.

When it came to the most expensive winter homes, nothing compared to Aspen, CO (for the ski bunnies) and Santa Monica, CA (for year-round sun worshipers). While the homes in both of these places feature some pretty incredible, over-the-top palaces, our little analysis revealed that there are also beautiful, lovely, charming, wonderful (we could carry on for days with adjectives) homes for sale in comparable climates at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in the ritzy, glitzy towns.

Ski-in to these Winter Wonderlands
In the celebrity-infested mountain town of Aspen, the median price of homes in 81611 is a whopping $1.95 million. It’s great if you’ve got the cash, but if you don’t, here are some cheaper alternatives in comparable ski-resort cities where you can get a much bigger bang for your ski-bunny buck.

Winter Vacation Homes in the Snow

In 80305 within Crested Butte, CO, you’d only be plopping down about $299,000. Meanwhile, in hip and happening within Boulder, CO 81225, the price will hover in the area of $399,900. For homes closer to the slopes in Southern California and Arizona, homes with a zip code of 92391 (Twin Peaks), 92341 (Green Valley Lake) and 92386 (Sugarloaf) are nestled close enough to the Big Bear skiing areas to make them both worth the drive and an attractive place to potentially purchase or lease a vacation home. Median home prices are around $125,000.

So long story short -you don’t have to spend a bundle to have a great home in a winter wonderland. Just remember to bundle up. It’s cold out there!

Soak up the sun, save some coin
Santa Monica has a famous pier, beaches for miles, and…pricey beach homes. Lucky for you, the sun shines everywhere and you can get a Santa Monica-esque experience in other coastal beach towns across America.

Not too far from Santa Monica is Long Beach, CA. It even got it’s own theme song – remember “Summertime in the LBC” ? — so you know it’s legit. Prices are even more sunny. The median home in 90802 run you about $224,000. Farther down the coast of California is “America’s Finest City” – San Diego. With unrivaled beaches and a fun seaside vibe, San Diego is another prime pick for a sunny vacation home spot. And the prices are right in 92105 specifically– about $214,000. And of course, we couldn’t forget about the great homes for sale in Florida. It is “The Sunshine State” after all. In Miami, snag something for around $71,316 in 33147. In neighboring West Palm Beach, you’ll be looking at a price tag of around $74,000 in 33417. Elsewhere in Florida, 33763 in Clearwater clocks in around $83,700. An endless summer can be found, and it can be affordable, if you just know the right places to look!

Winter Vacation Homes in the Sun

Thoughts? If you’re in the market for a vacation home (or thinking/dreaming about it), where are you looking to buy?


Asking What Our Country Can Do For Housing

5 years later and the housing market’s still stuck in the mud. Obama’s definitely got an uphill battle come election year (oh snap, that starts in two weeks!)

the Trulia Trends team
December 14, 2011

2012 is going to be a big year for Washington DC. Not only are we going to get more political skits from Saturday Night Live (remember this gem from 2008?), but we’re also going to hear a ton of campaign promises on how candidates plan to make things better for the economy, the government purse and housing.

But before we go down that rabbit hole, let’s take a step back and ask the American people what they want rather than listening to politicians tell us what we need. To do this, we asked people across the country (through an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive), what they thought needs to be done to fix the economy. We also asked them what would actually make them believe that things are getting better and if they still believe Obama can turnaround the housing market.

So what did our Winter 2011 survey tell us? To give you the inside scoop, we put together an infographic to help us walk though all the key findings. Let’s get started…

Get Your Priorities Straight – Jobs Before Homes!
The bigwigs at the capital might still be battling it out over how to fix the economy, but if you were to ask everyday Americans what they think the government needs to do, they’ll give it to you straight. Helping people find jobs needs to come before helping people buy homes. To flip this would be putting the cart before the horse, and it’s a sentiment that’s shared by both team elephant (Republicans) and team donkey (Democrats). Just check out the bar chart below to see just how aligned everyone is.

Jobs Before Housing Policy

It’s About Keeping What Ya Got
While housing ranked lower on almost everyone’s to-do list, 72% of Americans said government policies and programs should be pimping out homeownership. But wait! Before you get all up and arms about how “irresponsible” that is, let’s point out a notable caveat first.  By encouraging people to be homeowners, what Americans are really saying is that they want Uncle Sam to help current homeowners keep their homes, rather than helping renters buy their own pads. The chart below spells this out much better, illustrating the housing policies and proposals that voters care most about.

Housing Policies and Proposals We Like

Housing Recovery? Seeing Is Believing
While the housing market isn’t crashing and burning like it did five years ago, things aren’t exactly coming up roses right now. But really, what’s the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to a recovery?

To find out, we asked people to tell us what will make them feel better about buying and selling homes (by picking 3 things out of 10 options). Interestingly, the top three beacons of hope were things that you can see with your own two eyes. This includes fewer foreclosures, fewer lingering for-sale signs and fewer empty houses. Check out the flow chart below to see where prices and lower mortgage rates ranked.

What Will Consumer Confidence in Housing Market

A Change of Confidence We Can Believe In
Back in 2008, Obama asked the American people to “vote for change” – there was a bit of marketing magic in how he united the nation around his vision that “yes we can” make things better. Now fast forward to today and it’s almost safe to say that the more noticeable change we’ve seen is a change in consumer confidence.

How do we know this? Well, we had asked people back in 2009 about their confidence in the incoming president’s ability to turnaround the housing market. We then asked this same questions again in 2011 and then graphed the results in a side-by-side comparison. Clearly, America’s faith in Obama’s ability to stabilize the housing market has waned.

Housing Hurts Obama's Re-election

So long story short, if the president hopes to have a second term, then he best be ready to fight for it. With about 65% of Americans saying that housing hurt Obama’s re-election, Obama’s got an uphill battle waiting for him. Only time will tell if the President can bring back Candidate Obama from 2008. 

To see the full results from our latest consumer survey, click through the slideshare below:

To view a video of our Chief Economist Jed Kolko discussing the findings, see below.

To download the infographics pasted above, check out our Flickr account:


Moving Far, Far Away or Not Far Enough?

Most house hunters want to fly the coop with 59% looking to leave their metro area.

the Trulia Trends team
November 10, 2011

As Dorothy once famously said while clicking her ruby red slippers, “there’s no place like home.” If there’s any truth to that statement, then why do people move away? Well, one of the top reasons is because of a house. According to the good old U.S. Census, more than 4 in 10 people moved between 2009 and 2010 for a real estate-related reason, such as upgrading to a bigger and better house. Beyond that, people also move for love (this includes getting married and breaking up) and work (we all got to bring home the bacon somehow, right?).

Given this, you would think that most people aren’t looking for a fresh start when they move, just a change of scenery. Surprisingly, that isn’t the case. When we dug into how far people want to move – by examining where people searching for a home on are today and where they’re looking to live tomorrow – we found that 2 out of 3 (59%) house hunters want to pack up and get out of dodge.

So now you’re probably wondering how far is “far” when people say they want to move far, far away? Well, check out this pie chart we made using the data from our study to find out (it is best viewed counter-clockwise).

Trulia How Far Away Are People Looking to Move

Slice #1: Long distance moves (more than 500 miles) make up 23% of all the searches, which means that nearly a fourth of all the house hunters out there are looking for a pretty drastic change…as in goodbye San Francisco and hello New York City!

Slice #2: Regional long distance moves (less than 500, more than 100) aren’t nearly as dramatic, but are still a pretty big change, which is what 17% of house hunters are looking to do. If you’re familiar with the difference between NorCal and SoCal, it’s all California but practically two different worlds…as different as Mark Zuckerburg and Kim Kardashian.

Slice #3: Moving to a nearby city (less than 100 miles, different metro) is kind of like a local move but not. Imagine living and working in San Francisco – you’re just a walk or bus ride away from pretty much everything you’ll ever need and want, but you have a very tiny living space (on average, homes go for about $522 per square foot). Should you then move away to the suburbs in Pleasanton (a town on the outskirts of the SF Bay Area) and keep your job in the city, you’ll likely have more house than you know what to do with (we’re talking about an average $317 per square foot) along with a draining commute and a can-not-go-anywhere-without-a-car way of life. Be it for a bigger house or something else, about 19% of house hunters are looking to make this kind of move.

Slice #4: On the flip side, 41% of house hunters are lifers (someone who voluntarily lives and dies in the same place that they were born) or at least they seem like they’re going to be.

Question to all our wonderful readers: how far away did you go the last time you moved? Tell us in the comments below!


Mo Homes for Sale, Mo Problems

Finding homes to buy and sell today is pretty easy thanks to the Internet, but as for making sure all the need-to-know info (that’s been posted online) is correct – not so much.

the Trulia Trends team
October 4, 2011

A question to all you house hunters out there – have you ever found your dream home through an online search, only to later discover that it’s no longer for sale or that the price has changed? Well, you’re not alone. This is actually a very common, industry-wide problem. But rest assured – Trulia has taken the first steps to help fix what’s been broken by (1) doing regular “checkups” to see how much bad data is out there and then by (2) prescribing a treatment plan. While you can read more about that whole effort here, we thought it would be fun to share some of the insights that we found after accessing all the real estate data that’s online right now.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right
When we asked more than 1,000 homebuyers, sellers and real estate pros on what their biggest headache was when it came to online house hunting, an overwhelming number said it was making sure the details on the homes for sale were right. Hands down, nothing can be more frustrating than falling in love with a home only to later find out that it’s completely out of reach. Given this, it’s not surprising that price and status (e.g., pending sale, sold and for sale) were listed as the biggest gripes.

Trulia Real Estate Listing Data Quality


The Usual Suspect: Third-Party Syndicators
So what gives – what’s with all this bad real estate data? Well, let’s take a step back and look at how most homes for sale are posted online. As a first step, home sellers will hire an agent or broker to add their home to the official “homes for sale” list that only real estate pros have access to (this would be the Multiple Listing Services, or MLSs, for those of you in the know). Depending on the MLS, the listed homes will then be posted online to real estate listing websites like Trulia. In other cases, real estate pros will manually post the homes that they’re trying to sell onto these websites OR they will use third-party syndicators (online services that will automatically make these updates on a number of websites all at once) to do the work for them.

In a perfect world, any and all changes to the price or status of a home for sale will be quickly updated by the agent or broker where ever they have posted it online. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. When we analyzed all of these methods, we found that the source of all the bad real estate data floating around on the Internet is the result of sheer forgetfulness. In fact, more than two-thirds (69%) of all the errors that we found came from third-party syndicators. So just like a game of telephone, some details get lost.

Trulia Real Estate Listing Quality


Breaking Bad Data
To figure out how bad is bad when it comes to real estate data, we looked at 1.2 million homes for sale that can be found online on one of 250 real estate sites and compared them with what’s listed on the MLSs.

The verdict? We hate to say it, but this is bad news bears, my friend. The deets on 1 out of every 10 homes for sale (that’s roughly 120K errors – ugh) that you can find info for online is wrong! Yikes, that’s not good especially when you look at the breakdown. About half (51%) of the errors were related to price while the other half (41%) were wrong statuses. Even worse, a small fraction (8%) was caused by a double jeopardy of both price and status errors.

Call us crazy, but we’re pretty sure most house hunters look at more than 10 homes when they’re searching for a new house. Needless to say, this is definitely a problem – but what can we do about it? Well, as they say in AA, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. Now that we’ve exposed what’s happening and have shed some light onto the root of the problem, Trulia is taking the bull by the horns because enough is enough. To help make sure prices are up to date and statuses are correct, we’re taking leadership steps to (1) tag and ID bad real estate data, (2) correct anything that’s wrong on Trulia and (3) tell real estate pros when there is something off kilter with the online info about the homes they’re selling, allowing them to fix things ASAP. If you ask us, this is all part of a giant leap towards making housing hunting a little less frustrating for everyone.

Trulia Real Estate Listing Data Quality

(To download a PDF copy of this report, click here.)