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Tracking US real estate trends over time

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The real estate market is an ever-changing beast. Impacted by the financial state of the country and emerging real estate trends, it’s hard to keep track of what people are saying.

Tracking conversation over time is easy with Relative Insight Heartbeat. Heartbeat is a text analysis visualization tool used to monitor the evolution of conversation over time. 

To track changes within the industry, we uploaded real estate forum conversations to Heartbeat. This allows us to map out market and consumer trends over the course of nearly nine years. 

After uploading the data, we chose which themes to track – themes are groupings of relevant words. The themes we tracked all relate to industry trends surrounding the state of the market.

  • Price – cost, price, cash
  • Competition – competitive, competition, compete, competing
  • Value – value, worth
  • Ease – easily, easy, simple, easier

We also tracked specific words relating to architecture style to understand consumer real estate trends.

  • Victorian
  • Modern
  • Mid Century
  • Colonial
  • Craftsman
  • Cabin
  • Georgian

Tracking these two perspectives gives us a comprehensive understanding of not only what type of homes buyers want, but also how difficult it is to secure those homes. Here’s what we found:


Real Estate Market Trends

We see a spike in 2015 for the theme of ease. This tells us that 2015 was likely a buyers market, with ample supply and low prices. This supports the statistics that show 2015 was the best year for new single-family home sales since 2007.

Beyond 2015, we see a steady decline in the use of words relating to ease, which correlates to the increase in prices and decrease in supply we observed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the volume of conversation, we can see that forum users talked a lot about price. At its height, over 14 % of messages included words relating to price. Even at its lowest point in 2020, price still made up the largest percentage of messages. This implies that price is the biggest determining factor when buying a home.


Real Estate Design Trends

Our Heartbeat tracking architecture trends appears to be much more erratic than industry real estate trends. 

Modern design is by far the most discussed across forum conversations, but sees extreme drops immediately after spikes. This implies trend burnout, buyers are obsessed with modern design for a short period of time but lose interest just quickly. 

During a dip in modern in 2017, we see a surge for the word cabin. This suggests that buyers rejected modern design in favor of something completely different – rustic architecture. 

Conversation surrounding the remaining styles remains pretty consistent year to year. Mentions of colonial homes peak in 2016, craftsman in 2017 and Victorian in 2018. Each year, a new style rises to prominence replacing preferences of the year prior. 

Understanding the evolution of past conversation can help predict future real estate trends. Pairing Relative Insight Heartbeat with Explore allows for further, more in-depth market research analysis. Explore contextualizes word usage and discovers the why behind the what.

Track trends with Heartbeat