University of California at Berkeley professors Geoff Boeing and Paul Waddell analyzed 11 million Craigslist postings made across the country between May and July 2014 and compared the median rents of those postings in each metropolitan area to the median rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Overall, the median listings match up with the HUD data – “except when they don’t”, according to CityLab’s Tanvi Misra.
The median rent for Las Vegas skews lower on Craigslist than the corresponding HUD data, while New York’s median Craigslist rent was far, far higher than its HUD rent. Geoff Boeing attributes these discrepancies to the economy and culture of the listings’ location. A high price could be negotiated down by an interested renter, while a low price might anticipate a bidding war.
“Craigslist is not representative of the entire housing market,” in the U.S., Boeing emphasizes. What it is, however, is a source of “far fresher and finer-grained” information to get a quick and dirty feel of rental markets across the U.S.