How a Leading Home Builder Validated Their Investments with Unacast Data

Accounting for nearly 1/3 of our client’s national home closings in 2021, Florida is proving to be a market powerhouse for the real estate industry. With The Sunshine State driving so much housing demand recently, many are rethinking its long-standing reputation as solely a retirement destination. That said, Florida isn’t immune to shaky market conditions spurred by a national economy in flux. And that’s why one of the top homebuilders in the US turned to Unacast to gain data-backed insights into an ever evolving real estate market.

Challenge

Responsible for supporting land acquisition, contracting, and market research, our client’s regional market intelligence director was all too familiar with the frustrations of working with outdated, industry standard datasets via the IRS and Census Bureau. As an advisor to regional strategists, the director was challenged to provide adequate support to the teams that identified opportunities for growth. 

“Up until we started doing business with Unacast, our migration datasets were from the IRS or Census Bureau, and they were very outdated.”

–Market Intelligence Director, National Home Building Company


Come Q1 of 2021, our client struggled to find sustainable alternatives that would provide guidance around investment strategies after COVID threw traditional assumptions to the wind. While snowbird retirees would continue to support temporary migration trends, the impact of an influx of younger professionals and families on the hunt for affordable housing was unknown. Relying on data older than 12-18 months old, our client didn’t have the capacity to answer whether these trends would continue long enough to warrant a pivot in their investment strategy. 

While market conditions hinge on a suite of variables, the impact of accuracy underscores the entire land acquisition process. Understanding the significance of variations in demand, pricing, and income trends would only go so far as to paint a picture of directional changes. What was needed were real-time, and reliable migration pattern data to provide the needed insights to make investment decisions.

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Solutions

Starting with an analysis of internal CRM data, our client was able to pinpoint specific  spikes in migration but lacked a third party that would extrapolate  trends more broadly across the  industry. The home builder valued a more detailed, comprehensive view of mobility data, positioning them as a power user for Unacast’s Migration Patterns product

The biggest question was, can we believe that these trends will continue? Or, is it going to shift at some point? We just didn’t feel like we had enough data to be able to track that in real time like we could with Unacast.

–Market Intelligence Director, National Home Building Company


Leveraging the Migration Patterns Dataset

Our client chose the Migration Patterns dataset to achieve three key criteria:

  • Identify income trends across regions
    With a close eye on increasing incomes, our client could identify regions that would be best fit for new living community developments.
  • Select areas with prime growth opportunities
    Pinpointing which areas experienced the highest population outflows would help our client narrow down candidates to those with sustainable growth.
  • Understand regional differences in behavior
    Digging into residents’ behavioral patterns would help tie a throughline across data sources spanning rural, urban, and suburban areas.
One thing that's really been powerful for us is the way that the data is tagged with the source migrant’s income level enabling us to calculate affordability. Essentially what we found is that there's more affluence coming into the state. So when we look at out of state buyers they're coming in with 20% higher household income per Unacast data.

–Market Intelligence Director, National Home Building Company

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Results

Supplementing internal research and CRM data, our client took home two wins while partnering with Unacast. The first was successfully pairing new housing demand with migration trend data from Unacast. Through heat maps, the home builder analyzed 18 months of post-COVID trends down to the census tract level. Mapping areas in Tampa specifically, they overlaid housing demand data resulting in a “very clear parallel that migration was coming in and driving a strong portion of the housing demand.” Looking forward, the home builder articulated how strong shifts even in the past 60 to 90 days will slow down home purchases. 

The second win was in confirming nationwide trends and aligning to three pillars that would indicate high growth potential: new jobs, income increases, and migration inflows. According to our client, the state’s newly added jobs are tied to high incomes, becoming a huge draw on top of the 55+ crowd they’re known for.

We believe that Unacast will help us set ourselves up for success and weather the pending storm regardless of its status as a recession or correction. We feel more confident knowing we have the data we need at our disposal.”

–Market Intelligence Director, National Home Building Company


While economists continue to deliberate over what a recession could mean, one thing is certain– that our client is well prepared with real-time data to analyze market fluctuations, monitor trends, and lead the industry in leveraging location data to achieve key performance indicators.  

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