New Insights into Rental Housing Markets across the United States: Web Scraping and Analyzing Craigslist Rental Listings

Cite as: Boeing, G. and P. Waddell. 2016. “New Insights into Rental Housing Markets across the United States: Web Scraping and Analyzing Craigslist Rental Listings.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. Online first. doi:10.1177/0739456X16664789

Download PDF from JPER or from ResearchGate.

Check out the blog post summary of our findings.

Abstract

Current sources of data on rental housing – such as the census or commercial databases that focus on large apartment complexes – do not reflect recent market activity or the full scope of the U.S. rental market. To address this gap, we collected, cleaned, analyzed, mapped, and visualized 11 million Craigslist rental housing listings. The data reveal fine-grained spatial and temporal patterns within and across metropolitan housing markets in the U.S. We find some metropolitan areas have only single-digit percentages of listings below fair market rent. Nontraditional sources of volunteered geographic information offer planners real-time, local-scale estimates of rent and housing characteristics currently lacking in alternative sources, such as census data.