A real estate data company has launched live market information for five major U.S. metro areas.

Altos Research Corp., based in California’s Silicon Valley, scans Internet Web sites for information about for-sale properties and converts that raw data into charts and reports for its subscribers. The company does not subscribe to multiple listing services.

While some industry sources for statistics have a lag time of a month or more based on how the information is reported and collected, Altos Research targets real-time data based on the current inventory of for-sale properties.

The company captures a range of information about broker-listed for-sale properties. “The properties are advertised and we aggregate a whole bunch together,” said Michael Simonsen, co-founder, president and CEO of Altos Research who has 15 years of experience in software development and product management.

The company provides a real-time market snapshot for various geographic areas. This week, Altos Research announced that it is offering real-time reports for the Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle real estate markets.

Simple charts of city-specific market conditions, including median home-price trends, a “Market Action Index” that gauges real estate supply and demand, days on market, and price per square foot are available for free at the company’s Web site, AltosResearch.com.

Real estate professionals can subscribe to receive live charts they can place on their own Web sites and to have access to market reports that they can self-brand and send to clients.

The real estate market data that the company gathers includes almost all for-sale properties in a given area, though the company does not track for-sale-by-owner properties, Simonsen said. The company updates its analysis of local real estate data on a weekly basis at a ZIP code level.

Consumers can subscribe to the site for $15 a month to receive weekly updates on market conditions, he said.

The company launched in 2005 and began marketing its offerings in the San Francisco and Seattle markets a few months ago, said Simonsen, who had served as vice president of marketing and product management for Nevis Networks, a network security systems vendor.

Simonsen and Altos Research co-founder and vice president of engineering Jason Buberel began building the company’s system in 2003, he said. “At the time we were in Silicon Valley. The NASDAQ bubble burst, the ‘nuclear winter’ was all around us,” he said. Simonsen recalls that he read an article in the San Jose Mercury News newspaper that listed real estate information by ZIP code, though information was lacking for his own ZIP code.

The statistics reported in the newspaper were outdated based on the actual market conditions, he said. “I could walk out my door (and see) 100 homes for sale. At that time we had the realization of what we wanted to monitor.”

The real-time reports can be useful for Realtors to “sit down with clients and say, ‘Here’s what is actually going on in your market.’ (They can) give insights that are difficult to find in any other capacity,” Simonsen said. The market analysis can be useful for investors, too, he added, as the company can show flipping trends in a given market area.

So far, most of the subscribers to the company’s reports are real estate agents and brokers, Simonsen said. Subscribers can display the company’s market charts on mobile devices, or e-mail the reports to clients.

A sample report at the company’s Web site shows median list price, average list price, least expensive and most expensive listings, asking price per square foot, average days on market, total inventory, total properties sold, median house size and lot size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, median age of properties, and a gauge of market action for that week.

Also, the company’s weekly reports display market conditions for four segments of properties, ranging from the most expensive 25 percent of homes to the least expensive 25 percent of homes. The reports also show charts and specific property listings for a given ZIP code area, along with list price and expected price.

Simonsen said that the charts displayed on subscribers’ Web sites could help to generate leads from online property-searchers.

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