For a different look at Cleveland-area housing activity, dig into online traffic, search results (Plain Dealer)

“We’re having a listing contest right now, because we’re in desperate need of listings,” he said. “The buyer activity is just incredible right now. … Just in the last three months, we’re seeing bidding battles on houses. We’re seeing incredible traffic at open houses. We’re seeing incredible traffic online.”

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, based in Pittsburgh, is trying to learn from that online traffic. By cross-referencing showing data with information about listing inquiries on HowardHanna.com, Realtor.com and Zillow.com, the company hopes to better track the market.

For example, a report on recent showings of $200,000 to $250,000 houses in Lakewood, held against a report on the number of searches for similar listings, would pinpoint whether there’s a gap — or a marketing opportunity.

“We have different points of tangible data, but we haven’t been able to put them in one comprehensive report that’s easy to read,” Hanna said. “By the end of summer, we’ll have one page for the whole company that we can use to say ‘Here’s where we need inventory. Here’s what buyers are looking for.’ And we can use that when we go out to homeowners and tell them it’s a good time to put their home on the market.”

Data from HowardHanna.com, which saw nearly 250,000 unique visitors in the Akron, Canton and Cleveland area last month, is private.

But sites including Trulia and Zillow post their own reports and commentary — plus ratios and charts, some useful, some less so, that anyone can play with.

Realtor.com publishes monthly reports on the most-searched markets and their price and inventory trends. In June, the Cleveland area, which includes Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties, was the 39th most searched in the country — up from number 41 in May.

“It’s really tough to pinpoint how traffic translates to home sales, in the end,” cautioned Katie Curnutte of Zillow, which approached 35 million unique users on its website and mobile apps in June. “Our traffic has been growing consistently, even through the toughest parts of the market.”

She said Zillow is looking at ways to adjust the data it collects — as Google does on its search insights website — to account for changes in overall online activity and other factors that might distort information about trends.

“People look at homes for many reasons,” said Kolko, of Trulia. “Some are ready to make a move. Others are thinking months, or even years, into the future. And still others are looking to browse. I don’t expect that every search or every view that someone makes online will turn into an actual purchase or sale. But it is a good, meaty indicator of where we might see growth in the future.”

Read it from the source.

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