Tag Archive: Zonda Blog

  1. We Tell All On How AI Will Change Homebuilding at DCX 2018

    Our team went down to cool and sunny Austin this year for the Digital Transformation Summit by BDX to learn what new digital trends are on the market and how the homebuilding industry is contending with new digital challenges in an ever-evolving space.

    Tim Costello of BDX

    How will AI Change Homebuilding?

    Knowing that we’d be challenged by Tim Costello, CEO at BDX, to be disruptive and to disrupt ourselves, we wanted to address the massive force that is artificial intelligence and machine learning. All companies today, including homebuilders, sit on vast amounts of data. With the massive rise of cognitive intelligence tools such as Google Cloud and IBM Watson, our industry must begin to experiment with how to make use of AI to leverage that data.

    Shagane Barsegian Launey, VP of Product Design, Ludmilla Schappert, EVP of Product, and Hamin Balaporia, EVP of Technology, hosted a workshop at the DCX Zonda lounge to help identify entry points for starting the AI journey.

    The Meyers Research team at DCX 2018

    If you have taken a Lyft or Uber, chances are you’ve encountered a chatbot. Intelligent chatbots are conversational user interfaces that send timely notifications or help us accomplish simple tasks. Or perhaps you have used a support bot to find a restaurant, which makes recommendations based on questions you ask. In this case, instead of having to browse through search results for “Chinese Restaurants nearby” and compare all the details between restaurants to make a decision, you might instead prefer the ease and the productivity of getting a personalized recommendation. Chatbots are able to make these types of recommendations by pulling data from a database of knowledge the software contains and making relationships with that data. There are countless other examples of how we can use AI; it’s been used to trace retail shopper trends by counting cars in parking lots, and to optimize job descriptions to have greater submission rates.

    During our workshop, we mapped ideation paths for teams to explore pain points: work and people. If you conduct this exercise with your team, the insights you discover will help you track AI developments through a more focused lens and be ahead of the homebuilding industry to adopt advancements that ease and alleviate your pain points.


    • What are you and your company slow at? How can we make it faster?
    • What is repetitive? How can it be more intelligent?
    • What tools do you use? How can they be enhanced?


    • Where is your training effort? How can we shorten the cycle?
    • What takes a lot of time? How can we expedite it?
    • What is your largest labor force? How can we assist it?
    Zonda: Your Tool For Democratizing Data

    Although data has always been an integral part of the homebuilding industry, access was traditionally limited to those within a company’s research team, and not fully accessible to the greater organization. Extracting information from the data was slow and time-consuming, sometimes taking days to get answers. As we interacted with a diverse sales and marketing crowd at the Zonda Lounge over the course of the event, it was clear that the tide is changing for liberating intelligence.

    Freeing up access to the data means that we are now seeing more teams framing their strategy on the foundation of data, no matter where they fall on the org chart. From executives who used to depend on someone to compile a report for them, or an analyst who was isolated from access to the data.

    But not everybody is on board at first, and typically there are questions that organizations need answered in order to understand how data quality holds up and will integrate with the unique systems and processes established in their organizations. Thus, we will often first dive into discovery to understand your goals, your mix of tools, and to help your team with specific recommendations on where you can be running more efficiently, such as tracking pricing daily or opening instant access to the latest land listings. As we look ahead our goal is to help more builders have instant information at their fingertips.


    Schedule Data Discovery


    Top Tweets Showcasing Culture, Vision, and Innovation

    From Lennar, BDX, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines, here are the top tweets we’ve gathered highlighting the biggest takeaways from each session:

    Follow the hashtag #BDXSummit to read more trending tweets on what happened at DCX.

  2. April Zonda Newsfeed: Home Sales Up 6% Year-To-Date

    April Zonda newsfeed

    We now have a glimpse into spring selling season trends, and for the most part, the housing market has been trending positively. Mortgage rates remain historically low at 4.58%, even after rising 63 basis points since the start of the year. The median new home price rose 6% year-to-date this year compared to the same time last year. The combination of rising mortgage rates and prices have negatively impacted affordability. Comparing 1Q17 to 1Q18, the monthly payment for the median priced new home is 7% higher. That’s on top of growing 11% from 1Q16 to 1Q17. Even with this rise in housing costs, home sales are resilient. Purchase mortgage applications, our preferred gauge of home sales, grew 6% year-to-date compared to the same time last year.

    Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research

    Price Appreciation Continues

    Median existing home prices have recorded year-over-year gains for 73 consecutive months. 

    • The US median price for a detached single-family home rose to $252,100. Current prices are 6% higher than last year and 13% above March 2016 levels
    • Both detached and attached home prices are 6% higher in 1Q18 compared to 1Q17
    • Home prices in the West reported the largest gains, up 8% YOY
    • The Midwest remains the most affordable region, with a median home price of $192,200

    More Supply Coming Down The Pike?

    Total housing starts grew 11% year-over-year, led by the multifamily sector. 

    • Multifamily housing starts accelerated 24% compared to last year. While the margin of error is high for this data set, looking at the quarterly trend, we see an 8% jump compared to the first quarter in 2017
    • Single-family housing starts increased a steady 5% YOY and are now 16% higher than the 748,000 in March 2016

    Treasury Yields Hit 3% Threshold

    Investors have long cautioned that a 3% yield is a threshold we should pay attention to.

    • This is the first time since 2014 that 10-year bond yields have hit the 3% mark. Bond prices and yields are negatively correlated, so higher yields suggest there’s optimism about the current state of the economy
    • 10-year Treasury yields are a moving target, and are currently range-bound between 2.8% and 3.0%. Short-term yields have also risen
    • Going forward, however, there are some implications for the broader debt markets. Rising bond yields generally impact mortgage rates, interest on auto loans, and other lending categories. They also can eat into corporate profits


    Zonda updates housing data instantly in real time, so you don’t have to wait monthly or weekly for the latest insights. Plus, you’ll have access to over 50 Market Reports full of rich infographics and news highlights spanning coast-to-coast. Curious?


  3. You Asked, Zonda Listened. Upgraded Sales & Marketing Features

    Today we relaunched enhanced sales and marketing features, which are more robust than ever before based on feedback from division presidents, analysts, and sales agents across the country. With the analytical rigor, Zonda delivers for every project, run your teams intelligently on real-time competitive data.

    Spot changes with mobile notifications. Technology that enables organizational change can drive success. This is why 2 years from the first reveal, this feature ranks #1 on our list.
    • Get an update only when projects change
    • Scan new colored notifications with eye-catching logos
    • Catch when builders increase pricing on plans
    • Find newly posted supply via quick move-ins
    • Get alerts on new competitors in your radius

    The updated Analytics Report now matches all Zonda reports. Your team always gets fresh insights into consumer buyer behavior with our BDX partnership and their New Home Source data, harnessing over 2 million unique home buyers each month. Run your sales reviews with the following data.

    • Monitor consumer search traffic for county, city, and zip code page views
    • Adjust product positioning based on consumer preferences data
    • Understand shifts in price sensitivity and unit size


    Zonda Sales & Marketing is powered in partnership with BDX, the nation’s leading provider of digital marketing solutions for home builders and was formed by a consortium of 32 of the largest builders. These relationships provide unparalleled depth and breadth of data for sales and marketing teams.

    View Alara Analytics Report


    Advance you mobile work even more with the latest tricks from Apple.

    • Save files to your iPad
    • Drag and drop with nifty multi-tasking
    • Draw on screenshots

    Thank you for checking out the updates. To schedule a Zonda demo of the new features get in touch with our team.

  4. March Zonda Newsfeed: Strong Momentum For Spring Selling Season


    It’s no surprise that the Federal Reserve, with Jerome Powell at the helm, decided to continue the normalization process by raising rates this week. The move was well communicated, and it set the tone for a high likelihood of two more increases this year. Inflation concerns were downplayed in the prepared remarks, but there are hints on the consumer side that more is on the way. While the housing industry is worried about the corresponding rising mortgage rates, demographic tailwinds and buyer urgency point to another strong spring selling season.

    Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research

    Price Stability Persists

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew 2.2% YOY.

    • Core CPI, a more stable indicator that strips out highly volatile food and energy prices, increased 1.8% YOY
    • While the 2.2% looks above the 2.0% target that the Fed outlines, CPI is not their preferred measure of inflation. The Personal Consumption Expenditure Index, the measure closely followed by the Fed, grew 1.7% YOY, similar to the growth in December
    • Higher inflation could cause the bond market to react and drive up yields, which are directly correlated with mortgage rates. Higher inflation could also trigger the Fed to raise interest rates more aggressively, also influencing mortgage rates and overall economic growth


    Consumer Confidence At Highest Level Since 2000

    The index came in at 130.8 in February, which is the highest reading since November 2000.

    • The primary driver of this consumer confidence read is the strong labor market. Nonfarm payrolls have increased for 89 consecutive months, the longest stretch on record
    • Looking forward, the Expectation Index rose 5.5% MOM. The reading reflects consumer optimism for the future state of the economy
    • The Fed chair noted that consumers will drive economic growth going forward as household balance sheets improve


    Strong Momentum For Spring Selling Season

    Housing market shows strength over last year despite higher mortgage rates.

    • Purchase mortgage applications rose 1.4% compared to last week and 4.0% above last year. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently sits at 4.45%, higher than 4.44% last week and 4.23% last year
    • Mortgage applications are a leading indicator of the housing market that gives a pulse of future purchase activity. For example, the purchase mortgage data is updated through mid-March, while the existing home data released this week lags as its shows data through February
    • With mortgage rates steadily climbing since the new year, the refinance share of applications declined to 38.5%, the lowest level since 2008



    Zonda updates housing data instantly in real time, so you don’t have to wait monthly or weekly for the latest insights. Plus, you’ll have access to over 50 Market Reports full of rich infographics and news highlights spanning coast-to-coast. Curious?


  5. Potential Inflation Largely To Blame For Market Correction

    Zonda Newsfeed

    On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its single largest one-day point drop ever. As of writing this, it seems the selloff has leveled out, but the question remains, what happened? It’s hard to pinpoint the exact catalyst of the correction, but the most obvious culprit is inflation (algorithmic trading has also been blamed). Although the 2.9% increase in wages from January’s employment report is great for consumers, it fuels inflation fears and corresponding worries that the Fed will need to raise short-term rates quicker than anticipated. The new Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, is expected to push three rate hikes this year, but he may need to change policy if the economy shows signs of overheating.

    Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research

    Low Housing Supply Continues To Drop

    Resale inventory totaled 3.2 months of supply in December, which is far below the 6.0 equilibrium level.

    • Housing supply has dropped year-over-year for the past 25 months
    • There were a total of 1.48 million units available for sale at the end of December, down 10.3% from last year.
      The lack of inventory is pushing prices up and lowering affordability, especially in the face of the aforementioned healthy housing demandMonths of Existing Home Inventory Zonda
    Low Supply + High Demand = Price Appreciation

    The Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index for November increased 6.4% YOY. The national index also rose by 6.2% over the same period.

    • This is the 67th month of continuous year-over-year growth. While this is positive for existing homeowners, home prices are rising three times faster than inflation and more than twice as fast as wages making it difficult (but not impossible) for entry-level buyers to enter the market.
    • Markets with the largest YOY gains include Seattle (+12.7%), Las Vegas (+10.6%), and San Francisco (+9.1%)
    Millennials Drive Up Homeownership Rate

    The homeownership rate rose from 63.9% to 64.2% in the fourth quarter. This is the third quarter of growth, but remains below the historical average of 65.4%.

    • Millennials had the largest year-over-year increase in homeownership among any age group
    • The ownership rate among those under 35 increased to 36.0% from 34.7% a year earlier. This is in-line with the data we collect about Millennials each year, which shows 35% of those 28 and older want to own a home in the next 1-3 years.

    Zonda updates housing data instantly in real time, so you don’t have to wait monthly or weekly for the latest insights. Plus, you’ll have access to over 50 Market Reports full of rich infographics and news highlights spanning coast-to-coast. Curious?



  6. Monthly Meyers Index: Hurricanes & Job Losses Impact Numbers

    Starting today, we’ll reveal the strength of the housing market in our new monthly series “The Monthly Meyers Index,” which is based on the latest data from the Zonda iPad app.

    “The Meyers Index provides an excellent barometer of the monthly changes in the health of the national, state, and metropolitan housing markets.”

    – Rick Peiser, Real Estate & Urban Development Professor at Harvard Design School


    Steady Rise Over The Past 5+ Years

    September was the first month to reflect the hurricanes with the US index falling 15 points to 559. This drop was driven by job losses, mostly in the hospitality and retail sectors. It was also driven by a modest decrease in permits balanced by a modest increase in new home sales. Even though September’s value is down 2% compared to last year, it remains 18% higher than the 7-year historical average of the index and 6% above where the value was two years ago.

    Our Top 5 CBSA Highlights

    Reporting on regional growth across the markets is one of the most powerful aspects of the new Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) rankings in the Zonda Market Reports. While for top markets there is value in comparing different CBSAs, don’t be alarmed if your smaller metro isn’t batting in the major leagues. For example, Baltimore’s rating has bounced between 300 and 400 in its entire 7-year history, which is nowhere near the 900 rating for some top markets. It’s important to use the Meyers Index on a relative basis for CBSAs compared to their own historical averages.

    NE Dallas Stays Hot. Dallas is arguably one of the hottest markets in the country, and our Meyers Index captures that strength. The CBSA is #1 based on the Meyers Index, up 2% month-over-month and year-over-year. Dallas’ labor market is also on fire, with a 3.4% unemployment rate and 2.8% annual clip in new jobs. McKinney, Frisco, and Fort Worth have the most active new home projects within in the CBSA.

    Small Blip in Houston Data. Even after a blip in Houston’s score due to Hurricane Harvey, the metro remains a force to be reckoned with. You might be surprised that Houston is a top market for Millennials. These buyers, along with other young families, are school focused; the top 10 school districts in the market account for about 70% of the local housing starts.

    Power Outages Hurt Orlando. After Hurricane Irma swept through, Orlando and many of the top markets in Florida faced power outages. This explains why the state index slipped 37 points month-over-month, led by Miami (down 23 points), Tampa (down 20 points), Jacksonville (down 15 points), and Orlando (down 14 points). Storm aside, Orlando has done a good job diversifying away from tourism and hospitality while embracing new jobs in tech and engineering.

    Tech Still Drives Demand In San Francisco. A recent study placed San Francisco’s economy among the strongest in the nation due to tech giants remaining big players in the region. The average sales pace for builders in this market is higher than the national average, and the scarce inventory combined with pent-up housing demand is driving velocity for the communities that hit the market. Attainable housing is hard to come by for average (or even above-average) Americans, which has driven the demand for housing to the more affordable eastern suburbs.

    Affordable Alternatives In Riverside. Riverside’s housing strength is largely fueled by workers in the logistics, warehouse, and retail industries. While job growth is healthy in the market (up 2.7% compared to last year), many of the largest employers are only offering wages between $25,000 and $75,000 a year. These salaries contribute to a focus on price point for new homes. Baby Boomers, Millennials, and young families are heading to the Inland Empire for affordable alternatives to coastal living.

    About Meyers Index

    The Meyers Index is a single score between 0 and 1,000 to help you understand the health of the housing market at both U.S. and regional levels. Think of the Index as a quick economic and housing snapshot.

    How did we get this number? Rick Peiser, Real Estate & Urban Development Professor at Harvard Design School and Henry Pollakowski, Urban & Housing Economist at Harvard University have been working with Zonda to aggregate and weigh key housing data such as price appreciation, sales activity, demographic growth, household income levels, school scores, and affordability to interpret the strength of the housing market.

    Instant housing Insights with zonda

    Zonda updates housing data instantly in real time, so you don’t have to wait monthly or weekly for the latest insights. Plus, you’ll have access to over 50 Market Reports full of rich infographics and news highlights spanning coast-to-coast. Curious? Get a free Zonda demo.


  7. Zonda Newsfeed: November Update

    Let’s talk about how the proposed tax reform plans may impact homeownership. Bear in mind this analysis just skims the surface of the legislation. The initial drafts from both the House and Senate intend on doubling the standard deduction, which means individuals will now automatically get $12,000 and married couples will get $24,000. The bump in the standard deduction largely makes the popular mortgage interest deduction irrelevant, as the incentive to itemize taxes is lowered. There are also plans to either limit or remove the ability to deduct state and local taxes. We shouldn’t discount the fact that doubling the standard deduction does put more money back in the hands of consumers, but it does hurt one of the main selling points of homeownership.

    – Ali Wolf, Manager of Housing Economics at Meyers Research

    Homeownership Rates Slightly Increase

    Homeownership rate rose from 63.7% to 63.9% in the third quarter. The Midwest outpaced the national average at 69.1%, while the West lagged at 58.9%; historically, the West has had a lower rate than the rest of the country due to affordability constraints. Keeping with the positive momentum we’ve been telling you about Millennials, the homeownership rate for those under 35 grew for the third consecutive quarter to 35.6%.

    Homeownership Rates Increase November 2017

    Home Prices At All-Time High

    The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for August increased 6.0% YOY. This marks 64 straight months of year-over-year growth. The Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index increased by 5.9% over the same period. The continued growth indicates solid expansion for the housing market. However, home price appreciation is outpacing both inflation and wages, which stretches affordability.

    Case-Shiller Home Price Index November 2017


    Mortgage Rates Still At Historical Lows

    The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate flattened to 3.94%. The rate was 3.65% last year. The Fed raised short-term interest rates twice this year and are planning a third for next month. Many experts believed those hikes would drive up mortgage rates, but the lower bond yield is keeping rates suppressed. Mortgage rates are still below 4.0%, which is favorable for housing demand.

    30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage November 2017


    Ali Wolf, Manager of Housing Economics


  8. Zonda Hits 25 Version Releases. What’s Next?

    We recently reached an important milestone of 25 version releases since the launch of the Zonda iPad app in fall of 2013. Our clients’ valuable feedback continues to shape what we build next. We are humbled by your support, and are more excited than ever to execute on the roadmap ahead.

    Building knowledge on-the-go is the commitment we made when we launched Zonda. Every bit of data we introduce and feature we add is focused on giving you fast, easy-to-use tools that make your homebuilding industry research more powerful, insightful and accurate. After 25 version releases, your stories let us know that we’re making an impact on your work, and continue to motivate us.

    “Zonda is a force multiplier for our company. Now our teams are quick, efficient and decisive.”
    – John BohnenCOO at RSI Communities (TX)
    “Our leadership team and regional divisions are powered by Zonda’s easily accessible data to drive decisions on product and pricing.”
    – Tom JacobsTexas Region President at M/I Homes
    “I rely on Zonda for accurate market data and prompt customer service. My project questions are answered within minutes and updates show up in 24 hours.”
    – Trish SingMarket Analyst North Region at DR Horton

    Creating a better product starts with listening. Your feedback directly shapes what we launch next, so let’s hear it!

    • Do you find Zonda valuable and helpful? Review us on iTunes.
    • Do you have ideas Zonda should support? Send us an email.


  9. Zonda 5.1 Release: Optimize Home Prices Based On School

    In our update, correlate schools and home prices in any neighborhood. Use the new school filter available now in the Zonda 5.1 release to understand the intersection of home value, school performance, and location. Preview the feature with a short case study below.

    Land Feature: Optimize Home Price To School

    Instantly reveal the school influence with the new map filter. Quickly create project, closings, and listings price graphs to pit pricing per square foot for one school boundary against another. Use alongside the school district filter to showcase the location.



    Our Case Study

    We know 25% of buyers value school quality during their house hunt, and another 20% consider the proximity to school as a motivational factor in their home purchase. Using data to optimize price strategy, how can builders quantify the premium for schools?

    1. Pick your schools. Using the Zonda iPad app, we zoomed in on two older and well-established high schools in Irvine, University High, and Woodbridge High. The schools are three miles apart. Though both have a good reputation, anecdotally, local home buyers consider one academically superior to the other.
    2. Check the scores. The GreatSchools rating, the widely-used resource for evaluating school performance, showed both schools rated at a 10 (above average). In addition, the older Academic Performance Index revealed that University High outperforms in academics.
    3. Create a price graph. To understand how higher test scores might influence home values, we created two closing price graphs of existing homes within each of the school’s boundaries to see how they compare. Around Woodbridge High, homes were built in the early 1980s with lot sizes of roughly 4,800 square feet selling for $1.0M (or $441 per square foot). By comparison, University High homes built at the same time sell for $1.1M (or $483 per square foot) for lot sizes averaging 5,400 square feet. While both schools are outstanding by many standards, resales surrounding University High, which ranks higher in academics, achieves 10-13% higher value.

    That’s it, quick yet powerful. Understanding the nuances of school boundaries and academic performance can guide homebuilders in pricing their homes (even more so for infill locations) as well as boost the confidence of consumers to purchase your home as an investment.

    We’re pleased we could bring more clarity and consistency to your Zonda experience. Thank you for checking out the updates. To schedule a Zonda demo of the new features get in touch with our team.


  10. Zonda 5.0 iPad App: More Powerful With MLS Listings & Metro-Level Data

    Power up your team with Zonda 5.0, and get from data to decisions faster. Close the loop on supply with the new real-time MLS data. Let’s explore what’s in this release: 

    Browse Rich MLS Listings

    Never lose the pulse on resale competition. View over 1 million active and pending listings.

    • Poke around. Navigate new and existing home MLS listings. Find them on city and zip code when you are on the Supply tab.
    • Don’t miss a detail. Scroll through images and get more detail on the Zonda Listings website.
    • Power up on land. Access an improved feed of land listings. Find them on CBSA, county, city and zip code when you are on the Supply tab.

    Advance Field Work

    Intuitively filter and chart new data. Generate MLS listings price graphs with the same ease as projects and closings. Track a multifaceted view of pricing and supply.

    Unearth CBSA Trends

    Put metro data to work. Save time on tracking down CBSA metrics and maps, and instantly build on knowledge in your market. Discover the best-selling project in Houston, or see how Denver’s job market is faring.


    To help you get familiar with these changes, we have documented the design changes for the icons in this post.

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