Insights from the online house hunting phenomenon

Recently Trulia – the online residential real estate site for home buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals – released an interactive data visualization tool illustrating their users behavior patterns by day, time of day, location, and device type.

As you can see the peak house-hunting day and time is 9 pm on Monday, but 9 am through 10 pm on all days of the week there is a lot of activity.  After looking at all 50 states (yes, I really clicked on each and every one) I found that this trend is generally consistent and why wouldn’t it be?  The vast majority of people in America are sleeping between the hours of 1 am and 6 am and not surprisingly traffic is significantly lower during those hours, again a trend which is consistent across all states.  However, when you begin to slice the data by device type some interesting trends begin to materialize.

In the first screen shot to the right you will see the same data above although it has been constrained to only those users accessing Trulia via a computer (desktop or laptop).  Not surprisingly there is a lot of activity during the traditional American work days (9 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday) when most people are ostensibly spending a lot of time behind a desk with a computer in front of them.  What is interesting about this data is how low access from computers is during the weekend.  Apparently people when freed from their desks do not then again sit down behind a computer at home to surf Trulia for a new home or they simply do not spend as much of their Saturdays and Sundays looking for residential real estate (a statement we know to be incorrect based on the first image above).

It is only when we look at the mobile data set does the truth become plain – people are using their mobile devices (smart-phones and tablets) to access Trulia on the weekends and shunning (comparatively speaking) their computers.  We can also see that users seem to favor these devices at night when they’re not at work and sitting in the comfort of their own homes.  This trend is again relatively consistent across all fifty states with a fairly low level of trend deviation.

Obviously the insights above presuppose that the vast majority of Trulia’s users are people looking to buy or sell a home, instead of real estate professionals who might have a very specialized usage pattern.  In additional it also assumes that the majority of users are adults who use a computer during the aforementioned typical American work-week.  Both of these seem to be reasonable assumptions.

What do you think?

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