Study of Craigslist Ads Shows State of the Housing Market

Craigslist, love it or hate it, has become the resting place of all kinds of housing ads in markets across the country. Large homes, small homes and apartments are all listed on the site, posted by everyone from mom and pop shops and independent landlords to large companies and nationwide realtors.

That’s why researchers at the University of Berkeley chose to look at millions of Craigslist posts to uncover details about the housing market in a new way. With more rental cost data than commercial providers can give and better real-time information than the Census Bureau, Craigslist seemed like the best place for the Berkley Urban Analytics Lab to start to gather housing market data.

What they found, reported on in the Washington Post, reveals familiar news—New York, San Francisco, Boston and North Dakota have the most expensive rents in the country. The data also showed some new trends including the monetary difference between the most expensive and least expensive rents in each city.

It also found the differences in each market as to what is available in lower-cost options. For example, a renter will have a hard time finding a San Francisco apartment at the running cost of Atlanta housing. For many more expensive cities, lower-cost units are not widely available.

Researchers identified some problems with the data, including that not all landlords/apartments use Craigslist for advertising, some markets rely more heavily on brokers and others had more plentiful posts. But by taking 1.5 million posts from 2014, they believe that they reported some very useful insights.

To read the full article published in the Journal of Planning, Education and Research click here.