Consumers look for homes most in March and April. However, peak-search season happens now in Hawaii and Florida, but is six months away in Montana and Oregon.
As winter’s end approaches, the housing market wakes up. All key measures of housing activity–searches, prices, starts, sales, and inventories–typically hit their annual lows in December or January. But at the start of each year, would-be buyers come out of hibernation first: search behavior starts to pick up in January, reaching its peak in March and remaining strong through August. Sales and inventories then peak later in the year. But local housing markets have their own rhythms. To see when each state’s housing market heats up, we looked at six years of search history on Trulia – January 2007 to December 2012 – for properties in every state. (This is based on the state where the property is located, which is not necessarily where the person searching is located.) Of course, Trulia’s site traffic has grown dramatically over these years, so we used a seasonal adjustment model to strip out the upward trend and uncover the regular seasonal rhythms of search behavior across the country.
Nationally, the peak months of search activity are March and April. After a slight dip in May, there’s a second peak in the summer months of June and July. As the year ends, search activity drops off. December is the slowest month, followed by November. At the state level, though, the peak month for search activity ranges from as early as January to as late as August. This month, January, is Hawaii’s peak month for search activity. Next month, February, is the top month for search traffic in Florida. In these warm states, winter weather is good for home searches and going to open houses. Across much of the country, though, home search activity peaks in the springtime, including in the Midwest, the Plains, and much of the West and Northeast. The summertime – June through August – is the peak for most of the South and a few states in the Northwest and northern New England. No state enjoys peak season in September, October, November, or December.
Even though the earliest two states to peak each year–Florida and Hawaii–are warm, southerly states, and the last two states — Montana and Oregon – are northernly, home searches generally peak later in the South than in the Northeast, Midwest, and Plains. Why do Minnesotans search most in March and April, rather than in the warmer summer? And why do Mississippians look most in June and July, rather than in the milder spring? To avoid the rain: in most of the Northeast, Midwest, and Plains, it rains less in the spring than in the height of summer, but in many Southern states, it rains less in the summer than in the spring. The punchline: warm weather is good for search traffic, but dry weather helps, too.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening right now. The interactive map shows, for each state, whether search activity is above or below the annual average for that state. (That means every state is above its own annual average in some months and below in other months.) In January, search activity in most states is already out of the winter slump and is above the annual average. In Florida and Hawaii, January search traffic is more than 10% above each state’s annual average. January search traffic is below the annual average only in four New England states – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island – plus North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
Click on the February button at the top of the interactive map, and you’ll see that Florida, Arizona, and Wisconsin are more than 10% above their annual average. In every month from March through July, all (or all but one) states are above their annual average in search traffic. By October, every state is at least a little below its annual average of search activity, and in December every state is 10% or more below its annual average.
It’s clear that housing swings with the seasons in every state. But where are the swings biggest? Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio have the largest changes in search traffic throughout the year. In contrast, search traffic fluctuates least over the year in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Hawaii, and Idaho. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, get in sync with the rhythms of your local housing market. Home sellers looking for the most buyers should list when search traffic peaks. Home buyers, however, should think about searching off-season – they might find less competition.0 comments
Marketing psychology, tradition, and superstition can sneak into home prices. Here are the secrets to setting a “lucky” asking price for your home.
What tricks do sellers and their agents use when setting the price of a home? To find out, we looked at the asking prices of homes for sale on Trulia since October 2011, excluding foreclosures, to see whether certain numbers show up in home prices more than others. We found that some numbers are a lot more popular than others, and different lucky numbers turn up in home prices in different regions of country.
Of course, lucky numbers aren’t the only factor sellers and their agents use in setting asking prices. A seller who loves the number 54 isn’t going to price a home at $540,000 if it’s really worth $200,000. But they might work “54” somewhere into the price without straying too much from the home’s expected value, such as pricing at $200,540.
To find patterns, we looked for numbers that appeared anywhere in the asking price, and we paid special attention to the “last non-zero digit” in the price. For instance, in the above example, the last non-zero digit of $200,540 is 4, and the last non-zero digit is 9 in $149,999, $259,900, and $11,900,000. Nearly all home prices – 96% – end in 0, and the vast majority – 91% – end in 00. The last non-zero digit is the number that “costs” the least to set based on marketing psychology, tradition, or superstition because it won’t change the value of the home as much as digits further up in the price. It turns out that 9 is, by far, the most popular last non-zero digit in asking prices, so let’s start there.
The Power of 9
The number 9 shows up in a lot of everyday prices. A Ronco knife set costs $39.99, the featured product on Trader Joe’s website last week was roasted & mashed sweet potatoes for $2.49, and my 16-gig iPad mini is $329. Why do prices of goods so often end in 9? One theory is that people rarely have exact change when a price ends in 9, and in a traditional retail store the cashier needs to open the register to make change, and therefore can’t cheat the storeowner by pocketing the cash and not recording the sale. Of course, that’s irrelevant in a world of credit cards, debit cards, and online shopping, so another reason prices end in 9 is perception: those Ronco knives sound like a much better deal at $39.99 than at $40 because the price is in the $30 range, rather than in the $40 range.
Do home prices use the same psychology? Absolutely. Even though the vast majority of home prices end in 0, the most common last non-zero digit is 9: more than half – 53% – of home prices have 9 as their last non-zero digit. The next most common is 5, which is a nice halfway point between round numbers. No other digit comes close to 9 and 5.0 comments
Believe it or not, a home’s address suffix can mean a 36% difference in its asking price.
Ever wonder if the homes on “avenues” are typically more expensive than the homes on “streets”? We have. Using our very own database of homes for sale on Trulia, we analyzed the median price per square foot for different types of address suffixes. In this analysis, we limited the results to only address suffixes that currently have at least 10,000 homes for sale (which comprise 97% of the sample). Here’s what we found:
As it turns out, homes on “boulevard” ($117) are the most expensive while the cheapest are those on “street” ($86) – that’s a 36% price difference! Although saying you live on “Whatchamacallit Road” may not sound that fancy, at $109 per square foot, homes located there are actually the third most expensive of any suffix type. In fact, the median home on a “road” is respectively 8% and 9% more expensive than those located on seemingly more upscale-sounding “court” and “circle.”0 comments
You can get a lot of house for practically pennies OR very little house for way too much money depending on where you’re looking.
Sure seems like everyone is looking for a deal these days, especially when it comes to buying a home. But the truth of the matter is that where a local market ranks on the value scale depends a LOT on its location.
Why is that? Well, consider this real estate fact of life — a “bargain bin” home in New York City’s got nothing on the dirt cheap real estate in Detroit. But, what happens when we look at the price of a home on a per square foot basis? It levels the playing field and allows us to see how much of a bargain homebuyers can really get in different cities. And those numbers are definitely surprising.
To help shine a little spotlight on this very important data point that every homebuyer and seller needs to consider, we charted out the median square footage for the 100 largest U.S. cities, and then sorted everything by the price per square foot. Check it out.0 comments
From zero to 27+ million online house hunters each month — what can we say, people love our inside scoop on real estate!
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!
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.
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
|1||90210||Beverly Hills, 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|
|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|
|18||34135||Bonita Springs, 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.0 comments