Which housing markets are attracting the most online interest?
Most sources of real estate look at essentially two factors: volume and price. How many homes are selling and how much are they selling for? Reading these tea leaves can often help predict the future. Tumbling volume on rising prices indicates that the market is getting toppy -- that was the first sign of the end of the housing bubble. Rising volume on tumbling prices suggests that the buyers are coming off the sidelines and the bottom is near: That's the situation we're in now.
But Trulia and CNBC looked at a different statistic: the increase in the number of people who are logging onto the internet to look at real estate in certain cities.
In February of 2008, Fort Myers was the 39th most searched for city. In 2009, it rose to number 13. In fact, the six cities that drew the biggest increase in traffic were in Florida: Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Miami, Sarasota, Naples and Fort Lauderdale. The similarly hard-hit Scottsdale, Arizona was number 7.
What does it all mean? It would seem to suggest that the headlines about tanking real estate prices are luring some lookey loos to the internet. If some of those convert into bona fide property hunters, the bottom could be near in those markets.
It's unscientific data, but it could be a pretty good predictor of what's to come.