Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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How to find stories in real estate websites

September 1, 2016

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Millennials are buying houses later and they’re also bypassing smaller “starter” homes in favor of larger, more expensive homes. (Photo via pixabay.com)

Real estate websites are great tools for consumers looking to buy, sell or rent property. They’re equally helpful to business reporters developing a variety of stories. In addition to housing prices, many have established research centers with data on sales, inventory and prices.

Here are three real estate websites that may be helpful when formulating a new business story.

Redfin.com

Redfin Corporation is a real estate brokerage whose website contains data on the state of the housing market, helpful for creating a compelling nut graph for almost any business impacted by real estate. Look here for reliable data on home sale changes in your region; you can filter your results by metropolitan area, property type, month-over-month change and year-over-year change, with visualization charts that change with your selections. Continuous growth or decline in housing prices often contains a good business story. For example, San Francisco’s housing price acceleration has finally started to slow after four years of double-digit inflation.

A look into inventory reveals news too. In July, Redfin.com reported that San Francisco had a larger than usual two-month supply of homes for sale. This is a significant change in that housing market, indicating that the market is not as tight as it had been, and that more homeowners are now listing their properties.

Zillow.com

Zillow.com is a popular online marketplace for finding and sharing information about real estate and mortgages. Zillow has data on 110 million homes across the United States and produces home value reports for over 130 metropolitan areas.

Zillow.com provides easy access to housing price trends. The website updates data including home values, rental figures, forecasts, negative equity and affordability. For instance, in June 2016, zillow.com reports the median home value in the United States was $187,300, 5.1 percent up over the previous year but still 20 percent below the 2007 high. Zillow predicts values will continue to rise another 2.4 percent within the next year.

Zillow.com also releases informative reports on real estate trends. For example, a study released on Aug. 25, 2016, shows affordability is homebuyers’ biggest concern, particularly among millennials.

Cbre.com

CBRE Group Inc. is the world’s largest commercial real-estate-services firm, serving owners, investors and occupiers in office, retail, industrial and other commercial spaces. The group’s website is a rich source of local, national and global market data in industries including hospitality, healthcare, education and retail. The information is updated quarterly.

A major feature of cbre.com is that its data is related to job postings and company movement. For example, business reporters can tap into office space occupancy conditions to tell which industries are moving into and out of an area. The Wall Street Journal used cbre.com data to report that tech companies account for more than 29 percent of the occupied office space in San Francisco, double the percentage in 2010 and—perhaps more critically—during the 2001 doc-com bubble.

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