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Housing/Real Estate

Construction and real estate are key economic sectors. In 2010, together they accounted for more than 15 percent of total U.S. GDP.

Every data set has advantages and disadvantages in terms of timeliness, geographic coverage and industry detail. The selection of the dataset to use should be based on the specific task at hand.

Advantages: good indicator of residential construction activity; timely; coverage includes U.S., states, metropolitan areas and counties.

Disadvantages: multi-family construction is very volatile and top line number can reflect this volatility

Advantages: good indicator of local real estate markets since existing home sales generally account for 85% to 90% of total home sales and are therefore the primary indicator for gauging housing demand;

Disadvantages: includes only sales made through the MLS; not very timely since existing home sales are counted at the time of the actual closing and therefore tends to lag demand drivers such as income, job growth and mortgage rates.

Advantages: good indicator of trends in housing prices across the United States

Disadvantages: geographic coverage limited to U.S., states and metropolitan statistical areas