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Archive for the ‘Oodle Index’ Category

People Want to See All the Listings

There are two types of classifieds listings: private party listings, where consumers buy and sell with each other, and professional listings, where a business (car dealer, landlord, real estate agent) is selling to a consumer. When you’re looking to get the best deal, it’s important to see both types of listings so that you can evaluate all of your options.

A few years ago, I was shopping for a used Suburban. It was extremely useful to see both what other people in my area were selling, as well as what was for sale at the local dealers. I only needed to pay a little more to get the car from a dealer (which is what I did). If something went wrong, they would be a lot easier to deal with.

Every category has its own natural ratio of private party to professional listings. Merchandise & Personals are made up almost entirely of private-party listings. About one-third of Car inventory is private-party (the other two-thirds is made up of dealers and independent lots). In contrast, Real Estate is almost entirely professional listings (except for a small, albeit growing list of for-sale-by-owner listings). Rentals and Employment are similarly comprised of almost entirely professional listings. Interestingly enough, however, small landlords and employers act a lot more like consumers than professional sellers (but that’s fodder for another blog post).

Across our network, we continue to explore ways to better integrate private-party and professional listings to provide the best user experience. One area we are currently working on is better integration of the seller identity in search results. Private-party listings are increasingly tied to a person’s online identity (on Facebook, MySpace, Oodle, etc.).  Similarly, professional listings will be increasingly tied to the local advertisers brand and online identity.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll buy a home or rent an apartment directly from another consumer. So as we roll-out new categories in the Facebook Marketplace, such as Cars, Homes and Jobs, we’ll also be experimenting with ways to best introduce professional listings into the mix. Integrating professional listings into Oodle’s community marketplaces such as Facebook and MySpace goes beyond figuring out ways to appropriately mix the two types of listings, however.  We’re experimenting with ways to present professional listings in a way that makes them more social. More on that in my next blog post…

Summer Time, Summer Deals

picture-3.png As we’re gearing towards those really hot summer months, what better to do than go out buy one of those really hot summer cars? I’m talking about convertibles — Boxsters, Mustangs, G4s, the goods. For the best deals on used sports cars, check out Oodle’s handy little tools: maps and pricing guides.

Cool stats about Porsches in the LA area:

  • Average price for 2004 Boxster: $34,062
  • Number of 2004 Boxsters for sale: 29
  • Number of hot 2002 Boxsters in Hollywood: 628

You can search either by make/model or just for convertibles in general. Trust me: you won’t be disappointed.

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Q1 Real Estate Trends Take II: Strong Markets on the West Coast

Following my last post on Q1 activity in the housing market, we had some inquiries as to the other strong real estate markets (apart from New York). The two other strong markets are both on the West Coast – L.A. and San Francisco.

Prices in the San Francisco real estate market were unyielding in the face of a general first-quarter slump, when price softening is associated with a low-volume period in the real estate market and more significantly in the face of a national housing slow-down. L.A. real estate prices slipped, but only very slightly – by 2% (compared to Boston’s, which tumbled 10%).

In San Francisco, overall real estate prices in Q1 were up on average 3%, indicating a vigorous market. In the 2 Bedroom sector, the prices were down, but only slightly from $790,100 to around $770,000. The overall rent price was also down by a couple of percentage points – the average 2 Bedroom rental rate went from $3,230 at the end of Q4 to $3,100 at the close of Q1. We saw lower volume in both real estate and rentals, typical of the season, in San Francisco.

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In L.A., while real estate prices slipped 2%, rental rates stayed high (up 1%). The 2 Br property price shifted down from just over $660,000 to around $650,400. The average price of 2 Br rental moved up from $1,840 to $1,910. Again, the rental price movement was counter to both expected and observed trends in other parts of the U.S. In L.A. we also observed comparable numbers (relative to earlier periods) of both sales and rentals in the housing market. This is another sign of a healthy market.

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Q1 Real Estate Trends: Boston Slumps, New York Hangs Strong

The first quarter is typically a low-volume period in both the real estate and rentals market, and lower prices are associated with this slow period in the housing cycle. The Boston market, which has seen continued price deflation, is a great example of this dynamic.

In the first quarter of 2007, real estate prices in Boston came down by approximately 10% from where they started. Average rental prices slipped by roughly the same percentage. The price drop in the two-bedroom sector of the Boston housing market (plotted below) was even more pronounced, with average rental prices down to $1,950, from $2,560, and real estate prices falling from $380,000 to $350,000. This softening of the housing market is visible around the country in other top markets, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Phoenix.

New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco represent the few strong markets that have managed to buck this trend and show surprising strength in Real Estate pricing. Overall real estate prices in New York City were up around 7%. Prices in the two-bedroom real estate sector in NYC (shown below) climbed from $570,000 to just over $600,000. Overall rental rates did fall, but more moderately than those in Boston (dropping just 4% at the end of the quarter). The two-bedroom rental rates were up slightly $3,220 to $3,420, again contrary to expectations.

Prices for a 2 bedroom apartment and home in Boston v. New York

Q1 Boston Housing Trends
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Real Estate Trends – Taking the Local Pulse

For the past three quarters, Oodle has been tracking local and national housing prices based on the listings in our index – both real estate listings and rental listings. We are currently tracking over 2M real estate listings and 1M rental listings in the US.From an economic standpoint, evaluating rental markets can provide valuable insight into the potential direction of real estate markets. Rental and real estate markets typically move inversely: as the real estate market shows signs of over-heating (high prices, slowing demand), more potential buyers become tentative, unwilling to invest in an asset with a declining value. The rental market then typically heats up, with competition for available rentals driving up prices.

Rental prices in big cities climbed the last three quarters of 2006, up on average 5% from Q3 to Q4. Meanwhile, real estate prices fell 7% during that same period, partly attributable to a seasonal slump in real estate sales.

The housing trends in some prime markets, including New York, San Francisco, and L.A. appear to lag the national trends. Rental prices in these three cities increased more sharply in Q4 than in Q3, and the real estate prices have not adjusted downward significantly. Sitting on the sidelines may be the right position for the average would-be-buyer in these markets.
2006 L.A. Housing
In contrast, rental prices trended down or stabilized in Boston, Seattle, Philly, and Chicago, indicating buyers may be ready to re-engage.

2006 Chicago Housing
We’ll cover real estate trends city-by-city in next week’s post. In the meantime, for in-depth reports on 12 major cities, including New York, L.A., San Francisco, and Chicago, take a look at some reports we recently wrote based on the Oodle Index.

Used Cars – What’s Popular

Oodle tracks all the used cars on the market in every region of the country. In addition to looking at pricing information, we thought it would be fun to look at what cars people are selling both nationally and at a regional level.

At a national level, one thing that jumps out is the popularity of American trucks. Three of the top five cars of the national list are trucks, with the Ford F150 and the Chevrolet Silverado snagging the top two spots. Eight of the top ten cars are American made.
national cars
Only two Japanese vehicles made the list – the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. Although it only takes fourth place nationally, the Honda Accord showed great popularity in major cities around the U.S., topping the chart in six of 12 cities.

This is just one of the differences we find across regional markets. All have different lists reflecting the nature of that region.

Atlanta: A National Mirror

Atlanta’s top 10 list has the greatest overlap with the national list. Eight of their top 10 made both: Honda Accord, Ford F150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Mustang, Ford Taurus, Dodge Ram, Ford Explorer, and Toyota Camry. The differences? The Honda Civic and the Nissan Altima.

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Boston: ‘I L-O-V-E- My S-U-V’

Boston is the only city with two SUVs in the top five. The most popular car in the city is the Jeep Grand Cherokee; the Ford Explorer finishes fourth.

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Chicago: The Heartland of Cars

Chicago had the most American cars on its top 10 list of any city surveyed. The only foreign-label cars in the top 10 were the BMW 3-Series (#7) and the Toyota Camry (#8). Cars such as the Pontiac Grand Prix (#3), the Chevrolet Malibu (#9) and the Chevrolet Trailblazer (#10) were favorites among Chicagoans but not drivers in any other major metro.

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Dallas: Land of the American Truck

Although the car that tops Dallas’s list of favorites is the Honda Accord, the American truck is clearly the choice ride, with three American trucks filling the next three slots. They are, in order, the Dodge Ram, Ford F150, and Chevrolet Silverado.

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L.A.: Don’t Label Me

L.A. has a reputation as an eclectic city and its residents’ tastes in cars reflect that. From big (Chevrolet Tahoe) to small (Honda Civic) to flashy (BMW 3-series) to fast (Ford Mustang) to American-born (Chevrolet Silverado) to foreign-label (Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Jetta), there’s no single label for LA.

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New York: Smaller is Better

America’s biggest city is one of the biggest homes for small cars. Eight of the top 10 cars in New York are small to mid-size sedans (the other two are SUVs).

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Orlando: Top Down!

Only two cities had a convertible in the top 10: Phoenix and Orlando. The convertible? The Chrysler Sebring.

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Philadelphia: Sedan Central

Like New Yorkers, Philadelphia residents showed a preference for small to mid-size sedans: four of the top five cars in Philly are popular sedans, including the Accord, Camry, Altima, and Taurus.

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Phoenix: Unusual Tastes?

Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, a popular car? Who knew. But it makes the top 10 list in Phoenix, just ahead of the Dodge Grand Caravan. Phoenix is the only city where these two show up in the top 10.

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San Francisco: Beamers – A Dime a Dozen

San Franciscans love luxury with three luxury vehicles in the top 10: two beamers (the 3- and 5-series and 5-series) and the Mercedes E-Class.

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Seattle: If it’s not a Ford…

The Pacific Northwest, with its rugged landscape, is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. And apparently they’ve bought into Ford’s tagline about adventure. The Ford Explorer is the number one car in Seattle followed closely by the Ford F150.

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Washington, D.C.: Like My Californian Cousins

Like L.A. and San Francisco, D.C. residents have a penchant for beamers. The BMW 3-series, is the third most popular car in the city, right behind the Ford Explorer and the Honda Accord.

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Used Car Pricing Surprisingly Regional

With the launch of the Oodle Index last month, we began providing price guides for cars and housing (both real estate and rentals). Our price guides include price distributions — which show what’s on the market in different price ranges as well as the median price — and tradeoff graphs — which allow users to compare prices across different key attributes (e.g., neighborhoods for housing or model year for cars).

We’ve also been looking at this data and finding some pretty interesting regional and national trends. You can read an analysis we did for the top 12 markets. We’ll also be posting about the trends we find on this blog.

One of the things we found most surprising was the variance in used car pricing across the U.S. In fact, prices vary by so much in different cities, that it may make sense to take a short road trip.

Used car prices (given the make, model, year & mileage) often differ by thousands of dollars. For example, a Toyota Camry is $1,200 more expensive in Philly than in New York City. I now understand why my friend Tom took a trip down to L.A. from S.F. the other weekend to buy a used car. The average price difference between a used Honda Civic in L.A. and S.F. is over $800. BMWs run roughly $600 cheaper in L.A. than in San Francisco.

So which cities have the best and worst deals? We computed a price index using the top 10 most popular resale cars in big cities. For the best prices, head to Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, and Phoenix. Comparatively, steer clear of Seattle. Turns out that Seattle is the Manhattan of the resale car market, with prices for popular models uniformly between $1,000-$3,000 above the national averages.Oodle Index for Regional Car Pricing

Stay tuned as we share some more of our findings…

Oodle Index for Market Pricing

Today Oodle rolled out something that we think is pretty cool, the Oodle Index — a pricing guide for local classifieds.

Pricing is extremely inefficient in classifieds. We consistently see widespread differences in the local asking price across similar goods (e.g., the price of a 2004 Honda Accord with 30k miles may vary by five thousands of dollars within the Bay Area). There are also significant differences in prices across different regions of the country. The average price for a car in San Francisco is almost a thousand dollars more than the average price in New York. As such, it’s not surprising that we found the most early search activity when shopping with classifieds (either with Oodle or in the newspaper) is spent trying to simply understand the fair market price for something.

We’ll be doing more with the Index in coming weeks and months. Let me know what you think and please send in any ideas that you think would be cool.

With this in mind, we set out to build a pricing index that leveraged Oodle’s unique vantage point on the market, something that’s:

o Comprehensive – It’s based on the hundreds of millions of listings that flow through Oodle, not just a sample or a depreciation table.

o Timely – data is updated every day.

o Local – data is presented by local metro, city and neighborhood (where appropriate).

The Index, which launches today, makes it easy for consumers to quickly identify great deals in their local market and will initially be available for cars, real estate and apartment rentals. And it will be integrated directly into Oodle Search.

When a user looks for a 2004 Honda Accord, they can now see a price distribution graph (with current and historic inventory levels) along side the search results. This graph is interactive – they can click on the green bars to the see the current listings associated with that price range. If few are available, they can use historic data to estimate how often similar deals are likely to pop up and use Oodle Alerts to be notified when new ones are posted.

We’ve also rolled out preliminary versions of graphs to help users better understand tradeoffs they may need to make. For example, in car trading off year, mileage and price (e.g., how much more do I need to pay for a 2005 than 2004 if they both have 20k miles) or for a home or apartment, compare pricing for surrounding areas.

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