How the Real Estate Industry Uses Census Data

During a Census Bureau webinar, real estate brokerage firm Redfin Corporation demonstrated how it used a combination of private and public data — including LODES, the American Community Survey (ACS), Census Bureau population estimates, and Bureau of Labor statistics — to develop the Opportunity Score, a data tool based on the Walkability Score that helps Americans find affordable housing with short commutes to jobs.  (Census Bureau)

“One of our goals was really to help people understand job accessibility,” said Taylor Marr, lead economist for Redfin. “For any address, you can look up and see … how accessible via a car-free commute each property or house to good-paying jobs.”

The Redfin Opportunity Score, available in more than 350 U.S. cities, is a rating from zero to 100 that measures the number of jobs within a 30-minute commute from a given address. The higher the score, the greater the access to nearby jobs. ​​​​​​​For example, the White House has an opportunity score of 100. That means there are a lot of jobs within 30 minutes (without a car) of where the White House is located.

Redfin’s Job Opportunity Tool also uses Census Bureau and other government data to show the total number of workers by occupation in a metro area and their median salaries, education level, and how many work remotely.

Here’s how other real estate companies use Census Bureau data:

  • Zillow merged rent and LODES data to gauge the housing supply and demand impact of the tech boom in Seattle, Washington — and found that rent increased 17% from 2011 to 2015.
  • REMAX used ACS data to examine homeownership by race and ethnicity, particularly among the Asian American Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations. Its research showed that the racial gap in homeownership rate narrowed as income rose but the lag of homeownership among all other races in comparison to White Americans persisted.