National home and real estate websites are in a heated competition to generate the most up-to-date, accurate home sales figures.
That's good news for homeowners, who are getting more help figuring out the accurate value of their home before they sell it, and for homebuyers who want to peg a good price on a home before they make an offer.
The latest salvo on that front really has a unique twist - it's a new technology from Trulia that calculates the short-term future price of U.S. homes and rentals.
The new technology, called the Trulia Price Monitor and the Trulia Rent Monitor, aims to take a stab at providing what Trulia calls "leading indicators" on home and rental price trends across the U.S.
Information released by Trulia show the Price Monitor is expected to "reveal monthly home prices and rent estate trends, specifically showing price patterns several months ahead of the leading sales price indexes, nationally and locally in the U.S.'s top 100 metros."
"Based on the for-sale homes and rentals listed on Trulia.com, these Monitors take into account changes in the mix of listed homes, reflecting trends in prices and rents for similar homes in similar neighborhoods through March 31, 2012," Trulia says in a statement released Wednesday. The Price Monitor is officially being released today, according to company sources.
Trulia says that current home pricing models reflect events that have already taken place in the economy and in the real estate sector. The difference with the Pricing Monitor, the company says, is that takes into account events that are happening now to provide
a more current indicator of housing market trends. The monitor will be released at the start of every month, Trulia says.
"With all eyes on the lookout for signs of home price increases now that sales and construction are improving, the Trulia Price Monitor is the finger on the pulse of price trends almost in real time," explains Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist, in a statement. "Asking prices lead sales prices by two or more months, and sales price indexes have a five-to-eight week lag in reporting. That means the Trulia Price Monitor can detect price movements - such as the 1.4% quarter-over-quarter increase in March - at least three months before the major sales-price indexes do."
So what makes the Price Monitor tick, and what specifically does it offer consumers?
On the home purchase side of the equation, the Price Monitor gives buyers a good idea of the asking prices in a given city going forward - even, as Kolko notes, several months down the road.
Right now, Trulia's Price Monitor says that on a national basis, asking prices are up by 1.4% on a quarter-to-quarter basis. More specifically, the data gives consumers a price range to expect when considering buying a home in a specific region.
For example, Trulia says that asking prices are up 14.8% in Cape-Coral-Fort Myers, and 14.1% in Miami, while asking prices are down 9.1% in Seattle, and are down 8.3% in Sacramento.
Calculating home prices by using asking price instead of sales price is a new wrinkle in real estate pricing evaluation tools.