I got this suggestion from were1non, who writes in with the following note:
I was just looking at the webtraffic statistics for mls.ca, and realtor.com to see if there was any correlation between the housing collapse and traffic to these two sites (mls.ca being the biggest listing site in Canada, and realtor.com for the US). I think this is an interesting time because this is the first time we can use web statistics to gauge interest in the housing market.
If we look at the alexa graph for realtor.com we see traffic start a steady drop in 2006, almost mirroring the US housing market slump:
Oddly enough, when you look at the traffic graph for mls.ca it does almost exactly the same thing, and as we all know there was no Canadian housing market crash in 2006:
So is it a coincidence that traffic drops off at realtor.com in 2006? Or perhaps there are competition factors at work here – my initial thought was that sites like zillow in the US and individual realtor VOW sites in Canada may have siphoned off traffic from these two main sites, but looking at a graph for zillow.com we see the same drop:
So whats happening here? Are we seeing interest in real estate fade in North America as a whole, is the traffic more evenly distributed, or are there other factors at work? One thing seems likely to me: it really is different this time – this is the first real estate boom that has played out online and no matter what happens the sheer amount of data, analysis and opinions that are out there and easily accessible is unprecedented.
update: David G from Zillow left a comment about the unreliability of Alexa data, Zillow traffic is actually up 30% over the year despite the condition of the US market. These graphs track daily percentage reach and not absolute numbers but I still view them as an interesting proxy in the absence of more reliable web traffic data.